We had a great day at the Johnny Campbell Christmas GP yesterday at The Ranch. It was a full schedule of events that culminated with a pro race that featured a $3000 first place purse. The course was laid out on the Carlsbad replica track and then had a number of short, but tight, off road sections incorporated into it.
I was planning on riding two classes, the Senior and Bomber events. In the senior race I got a flat tire half way through the first loop. Coming back to the pits, I decided just to hop on the vintage KTM 250 for the rest of the event. Needless to say, I didn’t get any trophies in that race. Later, the bomber race went much better. We were combined with a couple of other classes. I got off the line second, but got into first place part way around the first lap. I then had an open track and was able to catch a number of riders that started on the row ahead of us, all on modern bikes. The ’91 250 was a blast to ride. It is super fast and has great suspension. It was really more of a play race, not very serious, but we all had a good time.
The pro race was much more serious. With that kind of pay out up for grabs, the pros all had their race faces on. Off the start Robby Bell grabbed the holeshot, followed by Factory KTM rider Kailub Russell and Mark Samuels. As it turned out, Robby stayed out front the entire way, but Kailub kept him honest.
The best battle of the day was with Samuels and Quinn Cody. Quinn slowly gained on Samuels the entire race. By the final lap he was bearing down on Mark. As the riders started the last off road section they were wheel to wheel. Once they came out of that, there was a long rolling two track section and I was putting my money on Quinn for the pass. As Samuels came out of the trees, there was no Quinn, He had run out of gas on his stock tanked CRF450 with just over a mile to go.
That let David Kamo inherit fourth position, followed by Nick Stover, Johnny Campbell and Nick Hamill. Quinn would finish one lap back. Jake Argubright took a DNF after he pulled off with a stabilizer issue. Be sure to check out the;
Robby Bell Race Report
This weekend I decided to head out to the inaugural Johnny Campbell Christmas Classic to check it out and have some fun. It was touted as being a true variety of a course and it didn’t disappoint: The start of the course was a replica of the old Carlsbad motocross track, built by Marc Peters, then it went into a section of flowing single track. From there it headed down a fifth gear straightaway and then right back up, leading to another small section of single track before hitting the “ojos highway”: a tribute to Baja with fourth and fifth gear rolling hills and natural table tops. A couple small sand washes and a tricky rock section put you at the finish line with lap times just tipping over nine minutes. It was what a classic grand prix course should be: a mix of disciplines put together in a flowing course that was a lot of fun to ride.
Unclassified saw freezing temperatures and turned the motocross track into frozen tundra. I was a little balled up that I was so wild accelerating out of corners until I realized there was standing ice on the track. One corner in particular claimed many a front end and the running joke afterward was that everyone was trying to thaw the ice with their body heat by dropping the bike and lying on the ground. The 450 event was a bit of a warm up and I had a blast, getting off to a holeshot and really enjoying the race, finishing first ahead of JCR’s Quinn Cody and KTM’s Kailub Russell. The track was holding up really well and it was time for the Pro main.
I knew the start would be critical; there wasn’t much dust, but what little there was I wanted to be making. I got a good jump and was just able to pinch an accelerating Quinn off to the first corner. As I was getting to the first turn Jacob Augubright came around the outside of me and I had to really push to hold him off around the next few corners. I finally succeeded and three corners later I had the track all to myself, it was time to push for a gap. Kailub quickly moved into second with Mark Samuels in third and Quinn securing fourth. The first lap and a half I felt fantastic and was really moving, opening up around a seventeen second advantage. I had the race under control and was doing exactly what I had set out to do until I got into that tricky little rock section. It happened without warning; I popped up in to the rocks and suddenly my front end twisted left and sent me straight to the ground. It wasn’t a bad crash, more of a quick tip over, but the speed at which it happened made it pretty violent. Luckily the motor kept running and I quickly remounted. I noticed the bars were a little bent, but that was minor; a quick check to make sure the radiator was intact and I was off again, but had lost just over ten second of my lead putting Kailub around six seconds back. I got used to the bars pretty quickly and started attacking the track, opening the gap back up to around thirteen seconds over the next few laps. I was feeling pretty confident as the white flag was drawing near, but Kailub was preparing his last push to reel me in and try to claim the win for himself…
The white flag came out and I noticed Kailub was a bit closer and even with just a quick glance I could tell he was on a mission. He was on fire through the motocross track and had the gap down under 8 seconds. I knew I’d have to be at my best through the single track section because he had been faster than me through there all day long. In talking with Kailub after the race he knew this as well and was pulling everything he had out in hopes of reeling me in through the single track and getting close enough to be able to key off me in the fast stuff afterwards to try to make a pass. I pushed hard through the single track and felt like I went pretty quickly; I kept it pinned up the fast straight-aways, pushing deeper into the corners than I had all race long and suddenly the spectators on the sides of the course were motioning to me that I had a big lead. I looked back and noticed Kailub thirty plus seconds back and realized I could put it in cruise control for the last few sections of the course. It turns out he had pushed it a little too hard around an off-camber corner, just before reaching the single track, and lost the front end. I tip-toed through the rocks for the final time and cruised through the final couple corners to the finish line, crossing the checkered flag and claiming the win.
This win felt really good as Kailub put in a massive effort and pushed me all race long, he’s a great competitor and I look forward to racing him in the upcoming WORCS races he plans to attend. I want to congratulate Johnny Campbell for putting on a class grand prix, the course was enjoyable, it was well marked and well organized and I had so much fun participating in it. Thank you to my team: Monster Energy, THR Motorsports, Precision Concepts, Kawasaki. The bike was so good all day, even on the ice rink in the morning. Thank you to my personal sponsors, Fox Racing, Alpinestars and Scott Sports for being so great to me. I’m looking forward to a bit of a winter break before the season kicks back up again with the Best in the Desert Parker 250 on January seventh. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I’ll see you in Parker!
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