With the off-road season coming to a close, the final round of the District 37 BIG 6 series headed to Pala, CA with a few championships in the balance. First to be decided was the AMA West Coast Grand Prix championship where I led Colton Udall by sixteen points; meaning that if he won, I just had to sneak inside the top five to clinch it. Sunday’s classes held a little more parity as the points between Timmy Weigand and myself were quite close and a mistake either way could swing the destination of the number one plates: in the 4-Stroke class I had a small cushion and if Timmy won the race, I would have to come in second to prevent a tie and take the crown. The HWT was exactly the opposite, with Timmy holding the advantage, leaving me hoping for a bit of luck in order to sweep the series. Hosting the event would be the Vikings MC who marked out a fantastic course, and Mother Nature decided to bless the event with a bit of rain which would keep the track from getting too silty, allowing the riders to truly race for their respective championships.
With Saturday’s West Coast GP race coming on the heels of my performance in Baja, I was quite motivated to push hard for the win and get a little bit of my pride back. As the green lights fired and the pro line headed towards the first turn, Colton had a slight advantage and took the hole shot as I settled into second. As there was a little dust in some sections, I used the first couple laps to feel out the course and size up Colton’s speed, but by the third lap I’d closed right up and began to apply some pressure. We had already begun lapping some riders from the “sweep race” line and as the racecourse headed toward a rhythm section on the motocross track, Colton hesitated in trying to get past a couple back markers. I saw my opening and shot through a gap between the two riders, pulling alongside Colton, owning the inside and making the pass. Colton attacked hard trying to re-take the lead, but I was able to hold it through the initial adrenaline rush and, once I settled down, began to pull some time. I pulled out around twenty seconds over the following few laps and the race started to settle in there. Through around eighty minutes I was maintaining my lead and controlling the race until Colton realized he wasn’t going to catch me and sat up, giving me around a minute’s advantage and I was able to really enjoy my last lap as I took the win and with it, the number one plate.
Sunday morning’s 4-Stroke race started much the same as Saturday’s pro race with Colton just edging me out of the hole shot, Timmy sliding into third. Colton was inspired, pushing hard, and I was right on his heels, looking for any opportunity to make a pass, but as we came around to complete the first lap, the red flags were out and the race would have to be restarted. Unfortunately Trevor Beere had crashed really hard on one of the biggest jumps on the track; I haven’t heard how he’s doing, but I hope he’s ok as our sport has suffered too many serious injuries this year and that was an awful place to go down.
As the race restarted Timmy got the upper hand and raced through the first turn in the lead. In the theme of my weekend, I came around in second place and again started pressing for a way by. Through the first two laps Timmy was able to hold his advantage and I was beginning to feel frustrated knowing I had more speed. As we came around to a big double, I decided to take a risk and make a sketchy pass. Timmy hadn’t been hitting the double as it took some serious commitment, but I was tired of getting roosted and decided to go for it. Luckily Timmy held his line (he actually said he saw my shadow and turned away from me as quick as he could to make sure I didn’t land on him) and as I landed with more momentum, I made my way by and took the lead for my own. From there I stretched away pretty quickly, gaining about a twenty-second advantage over Timmy, but Colton (who had crashed early) was charging and soon made his way into second place. He was pushing it like he had nothing to lose and slowly closing the gap to me, but I knew how much time was left and crossed the line just under ten seconds ahead, taking the win and my second championship of the weekend.
In the third race of the weekend I would need to win and have Timmy get third to have a shot at winning the championship; I was slightly pessimistic that Colton would finish between us and keep his teammate from the crown, but anything can happen and I wanted to put a full effort into the race to see how it would play out. Unfortunately my effort didn’t get off to the best start as I came around in third, behind Timmy and Colton, and to make it more difficult, the track had dried out and there was now some silt in the back sections. I fell back initially because of the dust until about mid-way through when I decided to make a big push and try to add some pressure to the Honda boys. I was closing in on Colton and had cut Timmy’s advantage as well, but I was taking some risks and after flying off the track for the second time in the motocross section, I decided to back it down and take the third place. I still had some fun with the crowd, showing off my goon riding capabilities, and I appreciate everyone cheering me on to the last lap as it made it even more enjoyable.
All in all it was a great weekend as I took two of the three championships available to me and had a blast in the process. I want to congratulate Timmy and Colton on their performances all year long; it was fun battling it out with them for Big 6 supremacy. I want to thank me team: THR Motorsports, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts Kawasaki for a fantastic effort in the series and giving me the opportunity to contest for the titles. Thank you to my sponsors: Fox Racing, Asterisk, HookIt.com and John Burr Cycles for their stellar support and to all of the District 37 club members who put on eight great GP events this year. There’s one last race on my 2012 calendar and that’s the Johnny Campbell Christmas Classic; it’s such a jovial event at one of my favorite venues and I look forward to closing out the year with a bit of fun!