GNCC Racing

Quick Fill #3: This Week in GNCC

Quick Fill #3: This Week in GNCC

Friday, January 26, 2024 | 11:35 AM
Friday, January 26, 2024 | 11:35 AM

Welcome to Quick Fill. 

The weeks are winding down and we’re now just around three weeks out from kicking off the 2023 GNCC Racing season. These last few days are going to prove to fly by faster than the rest of the off-season has and before we know what hit us, we’ll be in the middle of getting Big Buck off and running. This means all the little odds and ends we’ve all been waiting on for a while will need to be done sooner rather than later. Every racer and crew member know that anxious feeling of trying to get everything finalized and ready to go, but in the end it always comes together. 

The opening round of a new season is always one of the most exciting ones of the entire year as it’s the first time we see riders on their new machines, in their new gear and back on track for the first time since the previous season ended. While there are always a number of pre-season races that keep things pretty exciting, you never really know exactly what to expect when round one rolls around. There’s been a number of times that guys have flown under the radar coming into a new year, then come out and excel at round one. This always adds to the excitement of the opening round and just thinking about it should get you fired up! 

Speaking of seeing riders on their new machines, we talked about a number of these a few weeks ago but there are a few more that have been finalized since then. We talked about Thad Duvall riding a Kawasaki and hinting at a ride on the Rocky Mountain Red Bear Racing squad with Steward Baylor. Well, they made it official last week and even showed Thad sporting the green XC2 backgrounds. And yes, he is eligible for XC2 competition. The XC2 rules have evolved over the years and currently the rulebook states that racers who have earned two XC2 championships in the previous five years are required to compete in XC1. Additionally, it also says that former GNCC, National Enduro, Hare and Hound, Endurocross, SCORE, Best in the Desert or WORCS champions from the previous 4 years are not eligible for XC2 or XC3. 

Thad meets all those criteria, as does a guy like Josh Toth who actually made a recent announcement as well. Toth is still taking the Ryan Sipes style “try a bunch of different races” schedule but sounds like he will be doing this on different machines throughout the year. Toth shared that he’s currently riding a Honda 250, so he could give the XC2 class a whirl as well. However, the question is what will he be riding? This is a pretty cool program on Josh’s part that will ultimately put some eyes on him as everyone wonders what he’ll ride next. 

The other big announcement came from Josh Strang. We knew Josh would be on a different bike for 2024, he just did a really good job of keeping things as quiet as possible for a long time. Josh announced this week that he’s running his own program for 2024 with support from Sherco USA. This brings the Sherco brand back to GNCC XC1 competition for the first time since the Baylor Brothers gave it a go back in 2020 and Strang is the perfect guy to help Sherco further their program. Josh even mentioned in his social media post that the Sherco 450 is a bike that people shouldn’t sleep on, and that seems to be the general consensus from a lot of those who ride it. 

There’s no doubt that Strang’s program will have a few growing pains here and there, but Strang is also the most recent GNCC winner and there’s no doubt that he can find success on the Sherco. Strang is also no stranger to putting his own program together as he did this before back in 2013 and 2014 as he made his own efforts with some support from Kawasaki then Yamaha. Regardless, this will be cool to watch unfold as the season progresses. 

As for the ATV side of things, well you guys just continue to stay pretty quiet! I’d love to talk up some of the top ATV talent but since these guys all put together their own deals and each have their own little secrets they like to hold in as long as possible, so it’s definitely understandable why they like to keep things on the quiet side as long as possible. What we do know is that Hunter Hart continues that “Croom Life” in Florida week after week as he basically calls the Croom riding area home all winter long. 

Parts Unlimited hosted their annual NVP Product Show in Kentucky last weekend and Adam McGill made the trip to hangout as part of the Moose Racing display, and we’re sure that was a good time. Speaking of Adam, we’re collecting photos and info for the 2023 GNCC souvenir program and Adam submitted some pretty interesting photos for his profile in the program. Apparently, Adam now bears an exact resemblance to Joe Biden judging by the headshot he submitted. The off-season has aged him quite a few years, but he’s now dressing in a suit! 

When it comes to pre-season racing, usually the Florida Trail Riders have a couple of January events that always give a good teaser of the ATV crowd. They did have the one back on January 6th that we talked about a few weeks ago, but they’re not back in action until next weekend so we’ll have to continue to wait to see what comes from the ATV racers in a few more weeks. On the bike side, US Sprint Enduro kicked their season off last weekend with some good racing in Georgia. 

Johnny Girroir won the US Sprint Enduro title last year and came into their new season showing that was no fluke. He ended up winning both days to take the overall while Angus Riordan was on the gas big time to take the Pro 2 class win and score times good enough for second overall. Liam Draper would finish second in the Pro 1 class and third overall while Craig Delong rounded out the Pro 1 podium in fourth overall. Jason Tino rode to a solid second place in Pro 2 while Toby Cleveland rounded out that Pro 2 podium in third. 

Since we’ve still got a bit of off-season to get through, I’m going to wrap up my Quick Fill contribution here, but Ken Hill is back this week and this guy has already been doing some traveling. So, enjoy Ken’s contribution below. Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here next week! 

Ken caught up with this guy, Walker Fowler, recently!
Ken caught up with this guy, Walker Fowler, recently! Ken Hill

Catching Up With Ken Hill (Ken Hill)

It is hard to believe in a few short weeks we will be back to racing as round one literally is just around the corner! With the weather here and my health issues, the winter has been dragging on especially seeing I caught whatever the crud was that made its round forcing me to deal with the symptoms as the deer laughed at me since it hit the day before our rifle season started. As the season came and went, it took with it the muzzleloader season which left only archery. However, by then I was exhausted. I managed to get through the banquet okay except for having to jet out of there Saturday night as we had a family emergency to rush home and deal with, so it has been a very hectic “off” season. Now add to the hunting and what not, the fact my vision in my eye, yes the eye I had operated on, has decided it liked things the foldaway and other than the cataract being gone, I am back to being a one eyed bandit. Plans are to seek new docs after February 1st as new insurance kicks in so I am praying they can get me fixed up in short order. It is really affecting me as cutting firewood, operating equipment and generally reading are problematic. Thank the Lord for autofocus! 

The holidays command went, and my plans were to double down and really work at getting in better shape as I want badly to be ready when they tell me it’s time for the liver transplant. I knew deer season would have me sitting furlong hours, so my target was January 1st to get into things allowing me a month and a half before the season kicked in. Mother Nature got in on this hustle and we have been snow covered with arctic temps further limiting outdoor activities. Now as the writing of this, we are looking at rising temps which should reach low 60’s, which will leave a muddy mess in store as this snow and ice make things difficult! At the races, a mudder I can deal, with but I loathe shooting in the actual rain. Here, I work through the rain and snow but loathe having to run equipment knowing full well it creates a ton work later when I have to fix the damage. Sometimes you just can’t win and roll with it but I’m really hoping we see a good season graced with fine weather. 

Somewhere in all this chaos I ordered some new lighting equipment so that I could do some things this season that I used to do in years past. I hadn’t no sooner unboxed most of it when I got a text that I had to scoot down to Florida and knock out two racers, so off I went! The trip itself was pretty good albeit chilly as I never came out of my jacket and drove home through a snow and ice storm, but I was thankful for the opportunity to get to see familiar faces and step away from the daily grind here… Even if it cost me good guy points with my wife! Two things, actually three, you can count on. One, it will snow here when I head south, the Tomatoes will be ready the week of Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National and three, the wife lets me know how much she hates me haha! 

Now there was a lot of time to think on this quick run, but I wasn’t sold how I wanted to use up what I got news wise in Quick Fill. Both of these riders are sharing similar things as the season approaches and their attitudes are close in regard to the mental approach. They both have a very long career, and both have championships under their belt, they both have suffered near career ending injuries and both find themselves facing opponents that are rolling on the high of carrying that coveted number one plate. I am talking about Walker Fowler and ATV Motocross legend Chad Wienen. In all the years I’ve been tasked with doing their images, this was the first where the similarities were so stark that I couldn’t shake the words and actions as I put the miles behind me. 

Yeah, we know, Chad Wienen is an ATV Motocross guy... but Ken caught up with him, and the similarities to Walker are astounding!
Yeah, we know, Chad Wienen is an ATV Motocross guy... but Ken caught up with him, and the similarities to Walker are astounding! Ken Hill

Both seemed incredibly positive yet remained humble. Not a bad word was spoken about their fellow competitors, and both seemed very eager to get back rolling at full steam. Wish there was some hidden agenda or dirt as it were but there was nothing but admiration for the competition and the insane amount of respect they placed when we did discuss things. I suppose when you get to the top tier you get what got them there and it’s carrying over to their character on and off the track. It’s rare to see, even after all the years gone by of doing this type of work. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have fun and make light of things which helps brush aside any animosity as they both know I am going to use information in the media. Yet still, they weren’t guarded in any responses as they also know I’ve been around long enough to know when to just tuck info away, never to be revealed. I am happy to report the only deep dark info I gleaned was that Walker can’t grow anything and that Chad seems to have found a fountain of youth as he just keeps getting faster! 

That’s about it from me as I get ready for another poke and prod (6-month exam) and unless they see something in my blood work that sets off alarm bells, I am looking forward to another great season doing what we all enjoy. I will try and get another addition to Quick Fill out next week if I have any new info but with round one drawing down on us it will probably be the week the race before I muddle my way through trying to type without making error after error. My vision is part of it, but the fact that my Mac has suffered a misfire and buttons are sticking and my auto correct, and I are in the death spiral of this relationship! 

As always, be safe in all you do and may the good Lord continue to bless us all!