Las Vegas Nationals Race Report
One of the first things you might see when you enter the SouthPoint Casino are some giant USA BMX signage - assuring you that you are in the right place for some insane BMX racing this weekend. As you walk past the big bronze cowboy on a horse, down the long hallway toward the SouthPoint arena, up the escalators and enter the plush SouthPoint equestrian center - you are instantly blasted with the familiar blast of BMX.
That huge rush of adrenaline hits you square between the eyes and your brain goes in to BMX mode. Here are some shots from the all-day practice session today - as a record number of riders dialed in the 700 foot long "short track."
WORDS AND IMAGES BY: JASON "SHOOTER" MCGUIRE and GORK
The annual Friday night pre-race kicked off with a record breaking 161 motos. Sin City definitely graced us with some of the best pre-race action in recent years. There was definitely a buzz going around the South Point and with the track in pristine condition, it was only a matter of time before the elbows started flying.
The Pro class helped us kick things off this evening with some big names such as Nic Long, Cristian Becerine and K.J. Romero making the trip to Las Vegas with hopes to earn a little extra cash. With such a short track it made the racing very interesting, as there is not much room for error. Through qualifying it looked as if Haro's Nic Long was on point and he would hold that all the way through the main. The "old man" of the group and Free Agent~Rockstar's Cristian Becerine gave Long a run for his money but unfortunately he came up just short and would have to settle for second. Factory Yess' Nick Fox would hold on for the three spot.
Jr. Devo was next in line to put on a show and as expected, it was none other then Factory 801 Extreme's Michael Boyle from Boise, ID that would clean house and pull away with a dominating win. It looks like his recent stay at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA has paid off for him in a big way.
The ladies helped put on some of the best racing I have seen in a while. Every single moto was packed with such intensity that it made the whole building shake. However, there was one class that stood out the most and it was the 15-16 year old girls. Out of the gate it was like a pack of wild banshees all hunting for the holeshot. Losing a top three rider down the first straight opened the door slightly for the girls in the back. Coming out of turn one, the ladies in first and second locked bars and battled it out but unfortunately they would both go down. At the line, it was Sarah Powell from Vail, AZ that would take home the win with Katelyn Willsey and Sierra Jennings rounding out the top three.
As for the men, 15X was a tough battle and one of my personal favorites from the evening. Going into turn one it was anyone's race as they were bunched up tighter then a rubber band ball. Sadly, that led to a big pile up leaving half of the field on the ground trying to dig their helmets from the dirt. It was tight and fast through the rest of the track and while the win was already on lock for Zaithyel Soekandar, the battle for the second and third position still raged on. Michael Newgen and Bobby worth were fighting desperately for second place. Newgen's last minute desperation attempt for a pass in turn three came up short and that left Worth with second and the Super Newg settling for third.
Friday night was a major success and with a record breaking pre-race, it can only mean good things for the future. Make sure you check back with us tomorrow both on the USA BMX Facebook page and USABMX.com for the latest news and updates from Sin City!
Day number one of the Las Vegas Nationals kicked off with a record-breaking moto count as participants converged on the South Point Hotel and Casino to form 372 action packed motos. Being in Sin City for one of the largest events of the year provides for many opportunities. That being said, everyone in attendance was graced by an opening ceremony speech from the former Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman.
As usual, the Pro class helped us kick things off and every round seemed like a main event battle. In round one of the main event, Factory Phoenix Racing's Kristian "Mini Coop" Cooper shot out of the gate like a bottle rocket. Sling shotting through each turn he would go on for the win and headed into round two with low points. However, it would be Tanner "T-Bone" Sebesta taking his recently new Answer~Ssquared powered ride to the top step of the podium as himself and Cristian Becerine would go one and two for the final two rounds and cementing the results for day one.
Some of the heavy hitters decided to get some extra track time in with the rest of the Jr. Devo class as Ryan Zinzow, Makieva "The Hulk" Hopson, and Dustin Hammond all set the pace early as to what some of the other competition would need to do in order to pull off the win. When their main event launched, it would be Zinzow who checked out and made his presence felt. His blazing speed was more then enough to keep Hopson and company out of range. Zinzow has been setting blaze to every track he steps foot on and it continues in Vegas as he pulled away for the win followed closely by Hopson and Hammond.
Girl power took over and the ladies fought for every position they could get while gathering the much needed national points in their quest for the title. As far as rider count is concerned, the 15-16 girls class pulled in 29 hotshots from around the country and it Factory Phoenix Racing's Kelsey Van Ogle once again why she is one of the most dominant women amateurs in BMX. Van Ogle took home the win after a tough battle from Supercross' Rachel Mydock. Currently, Kelsey has 13 Nag 1 titles, will this be the year she pulls in 14 and possible a National Championship?
The men's cruiser class put on a turn skills clinic for everyone in attendance. Whether it was elbows in the corner, a high low to go from fourth to second or even a bump and run sending the competition over the corner, there was definitely some high intensity maneuvering. Extreme Team's Danny Patterson and the rest of the 21-25 cruisers put on the best big wheel race of the evening. Out of the gate it was Patterson and Steven Grote bangin' bars for the holeshot. Grote led the pack out of turn one but Patterson was hunting the inside line for turn two. Patterson would make his one chance stick as he gave Grote a clean elbow that sent him over and out of turn two. Headed into turn three it looked as if Patterson had it on lock, however, Derrick King rolled the dice but could not make his move stick. In the end, Danny Patterson would grab the win, Shaun Chandler for the two and Derrick King taking third.
Who has the answer for what class had the largest rider count? If you are thinking one of the older expert groups, you are correct considering the 15X class showed up in full force with 54 riders. However, the 5&Under NOVICE class towed in 50 little dudes! That’s right, I said 50. That means these little ankle biters had to run quarter mains with the rest of the big kids. It is a wonderful thing to see such promise in the future of the sport we all love. These little groms are paving the path for the new generation of riders that will continue to push BMX further into the future.
Back to the 54 15 experts I just mentioned. Let me just start off by saying that if you made this main event then you are considered one of the fastest teenagers out there. After coming up just short in Jr. Devo, Makieva "The Hulk" Hopson was going to do everything in his power in order to redeem himself. When the gate slammed down and rumbled the arena floor like an earthquake the Hulk came out to play. Hopson took em' in and out of turn one without looking back. Justin Richmond, Cam Moore, Zaithyel Soekandar and Ryan Pettigrew were just a few of the guys trying to run him down but unfortunately for them, nothing stuck and the hulk would take the overall win.
Lastly, one of the best races of the evening came from the little dudes in 7X. Doublecross' Cannon "The Hammer" Wood, Haro~Promax's Jack Parker and Auburn~BOX's Dane Morales were battling it out all day long between class and cruiser. Wood was looking to double up in Vegas after edging out Morales in their cruiser race earlier but Jack Parker had other plans. Down the first straight and into the corner Morales had the inside line while Wood and Parker were throwin' elbows for the best position. Everyone made it out of the turn clean with Parker in the lead. Wood and Morales were trying to make moves as the track was getting shorter by the second. Down the rhythm section they go and Wood makes the pass in turn three on Parker and it was a sprint to the line. It would be Wood getting the double for the day and Parker would settle for second with Morales in third.
Saturday left everyone with a huge smile on their face and frothing at the bit for more! A huge record setting 372 motos provided us all with some of the best racing of the year. Sunday will prove to be even more interesting as all of the riders will be making last minute moves of desperation in able to walk away from Vegas a winner. Check back tonight at usabmx.com for the latest updates and photos from Sunday in Sin City!
Leading into day two it was guaranteed that the racing would be intensified as any rider on the track was going for broke in order to obtain a win. One great thing about short track BMX racing is that it will leave you on edge from the gate drop to the finish line. You never know who will get thrown over a turn or into the cheap seats!
The Pros had a wild main event over the course of three rounds with a battle between Morphine Industries Brandon "Fly Boy" McCoy, Felt's Gavin Lubbe and Factory Phoenix Racing's "The Mini Coop" Kristian Cooper. Heading into round number three of their main event these three went into the first turn three wide and came out unscathed. McCoy led the rest of the way out front while Cooper and Lubbe battled for the second place slot. In the end, McCoy took the overall win with Lubbe in two and Cooper for three.
When the amateurs took to the dirt elbows started flying. In the case of the ever-famous 41-45 cruiser class, it was well known that Vegas would be a key in aiding the recreation of their epic 2012 Grand Nationals main event that left the National No. 1 Cruiser Title going home with Redman~Rockstar's young gun Reid Austin. GT's Shan Hatfield was looking fast as ever all weekend long and when the main event came he shot out front once again! It looked as if he had the win on lock going through the rhythm and into turn three but Factory Phoenix Racing's Dave Archibald had other plans. Archibald cut hard to the inside and stuck his front end directly in the front end of Hatfield. Both of them hit the ground which also took out Extreme Team's "TP" Todd Parry which would leave the door open for Robert Riofrio who would go on to score the win.
For the experts, one of the great battles all throughout the weekend was with the 12X rippers. The list of riders in the main event both days was reminiscent of what you may see at the Grand Nationals. If any of these hot shots picked up a win it would greatly boost their national points for the year. Out of the gate on Sunday, Roman "Radro" Jaworsky, Hunter Brown, and Aram Schwinn battled it out for the holeshot. Radro would win that battle and once out front it would take everything he had to hold on for the win. Luckily he was able to hold off the late push from Aram Schwinn for the overall win and Hunter Brown would pull out the three spot.
Answer~Ssquared's Tyler Whitfield laid down the law in 17-18X. He picked up the win on day one after a tough battle with Extreme Team's Jeremy Smith. It was no different on day two as Whitfield left the rest of the 17-18X class in the dust. He created his own area code on within the first two straights and never looked back while the rest of the class battled for positions. This kid should be on everyone’s radar as we near closer to the Grands.
Once again, Sin City paid off big for everyone! With the schedule for the 2013 USA BMX National Series starting to dwindle away, Vegas played a huge role in helping add a few more points to riders national scores as they all have their eyes on the National No. 1 titles. Each and every year the South Point Hotel and Casino helps us put on a wonderful event that everyone loves to attend and we can only hope it continues to grow in the future. This is one of the largest races of the year and USA BMX would like to thank everyone who came out and attended the Las Vegas Nationals. We hope to see you all in East Moline, IL for stop number 19 of the 2013 USA BMX National Series!