Welcome to Quick Fill.
And welcome to a special Tuesday edition of Quick Fill. More on that later.
We’ve officially reached the off-season! They say time flies when you’re having fun and it really seems like that was the case for the entire 2023 season. As quick as Big Buck rolled in and we kicked off the season, Ironman seemingly rolled around in a heartbeat, and we closed the book on a great year of racing. Maybe you don’t completely agree, but I believe that by and far the majority of the GNCC Racing Nation will look back and think things went by pretty quick for the entire 2023 season.
On our end, we’re wrapping things up from the 2023 season as we begin preparations for the banquets and meanwhile beginning to make preliminary plans for the 2024 season. A big question from a lot of folks is when you can expect a look at the 2024 GNCC schedule. That is in the works as well, but there are a lot of moving pieces that must fall into place first. We’re pretty close to having something put together but have to sure up a few other items first. So, stay tuned and we’ll be sure to share things when everything is ready.
Until that time comes, I can give a couple little teasers. One is that we’re working really hard to add one new venue and looking at returning to an old venue. This would help with some of doubled up events but of course is still a work in progress. As always, if you have or know someone who has somewhere around 500 or more acres, with somewhere around 75-100 acres of good parking, drop me a line at [email protected]. Even if we can’t put something together now, we always like checking places out again in the future.
Also, speaking of the banquet, we’ll be opening up registration for the banquet very soon, so keep an eye on the website, your email and social media for that announcement. It will be here before you know it, so as soon as you see that registration has opened, be sure to get registered. Of course, we’ll also have the finalized top 10 for that coming up very soon as well. Keep an eye out for that and be sure to check the spelling of your name when that comes out as these are what is used for the year end awards.
Now, why do we have a special Tuesday edition of Quick Fill? Well, it’s officially race week! No, there’s not a surprise additional GNCC event that you didn’t know about but rather we’re finally making a return to Japan to visit our friends with the JNCC series. For those who may not know about JNCC, it’s basically a nearly spot-on version of GNCC in Japan. Masami Hoshino is a long-time part of the Japanese motorcycle industry having owned Rocky Sports, a Japanese parts importer (he even sponsored a number of American pro racers back in the late 80s and early 90s, who always ran the Rocky logo on their helmet) He also began organizing some off-road style races with the premier event being dubbed the “Hurricane AAGP” in honor of Bob Hannah, his favorite racer.
Much like GNCC’s beginnings, the AAGP event was a long, grueling event that often took racers close to five hours to finish. In those early days, guys like Randy Hawkins and Scott Summers made the trip over and Randy became such good friends with Masami that there was even a brand of Japanese riding gear called HWK, named after Randy. Eventually Masami began modeling races after GNCC, and the JNCC series was born. Since 2006, GNCC and JNCC have participated in a racer exchange program with Japanese racers coming to try their hand at a GNCC event each year, and GNCC racers heading to Japan for their JNCC season finale, which is still dubbed the AAGP.
On the GNCC side, this rider exchange began with Paul Whibley and Robbie Jenks in 2006, followed by the trio of Jason Raines, Charlie Mullins and Rodney Smith in 2007. Nate Kanney and Thad Duvall raced in 2008, Josh Strang and Kailub Russell in 2009, Cory Buttrick in 2010, Jesse Robinson and Jason Thomas in 2011, then Rory Mead and Josh Strang in 2013, Jordan Ashburn in 2014, Chris Bach in 2015, Trevor Bollinger in 2016, Ricky Russell in 2017, Craig Delong in 2018 and most recently, Andrew Delong in 2019. COVID played havoc on this for the last three years, and this will be the first time since 2019 that we have been able to participate in the racer exchange.
And if you’re looking for a testimonial of just how much fun the JNCC event really is; outside of GNCC’s rider selection, Josh Strang has put together his own effort, out of pocket, to go two more times in addition to the ones mentioned above as Strang also raced in 2015 and 2019 (and winning both times).
JNCC racers Daiki Baba and Ryoto Suzuki came over for our season opener at Big Buck this year, and now we’re headed to Japan this week with Steward Baylor to participate in the AAGP. Stu will be competing in their AA1 class (their XC1 equivalent) and I’ll actually be racing their Morning Race. This should prove to be a lot of fun as this year’s AAGP takes place at the X-JAM Takaifuji Ski Resort and sounds like it will be a good bit on the woodsy side with some of the ski slopes mixed in as well. The JNCC staff was ecstatic to hear that Stu was our selection for the year, and they’ve even named a special section of their Afternoon racecourse “Baylor Woods” and it features numerous log crossings.
So, be sure to check back in next week’s edition of Quick Fill for all the details on the trip. With Stu, his mechanic Blake, plus Stu’s dad, I’m sure we’ll come away with some really good stories… Some of which we might not be able to share here! Just kidding, of course. I’ve also heard from quite a few GNCC regulars who are interested in going over and trying their hand at a JNCC event in the future. While the series is pretty popular, it’s not quite on the same level as GNCC and finding bikes to loan out is not an easy task the majority of racers there only have one bike. However, one thing I want to start working towards is developing more relationships with some of the JNCC racers and more of their staff with the hopes that maybe, possible, one day down the road we could have a mutual exchange program among amateur racers as well. Dreaming big here, but anything is possible!
There’s also a pretty big event going on this weekend at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. No, it’s not another race or trail ride but our own Event Manager, Griff Cotter, will be tying the knot! He and his fiancé, Rylee Bogges, who you may recognize from helping out at Rider Registration some for a couple of seasons, are getting married down at The Ranch. So, if you’re friends with Griff on any social media, have his phone number, or just happen to see him around, be sure to give him a big congratulations on Saturday.
Before we wrap this up, if you didn't get enough from Ironman, be sure to check out the piece we threw together for our friends at Racer X highlighting Ironman and the championship battles. You can view that HERE.
That’s actually going to do it for this week’s edition of Quick Fill. Enjoy the rest of your week, the weekend, and keep an eye out on GNCC social media for the latest happenings from Japan… The time change is a big one as Japan is about 13 hours ahead of US Eastern Time, but we’ll be sure to post up how things shake out over there. Other than that, we’ll see you back here next week for another edition of Quick Fill.