Stars & Stripes National race report
story & pics by James Pennucci
South Park BMX was the host to this year’s Stars and Stripes Nationals, and between the crazy fast racing at this Legendary track, temp’s hitting the 90’s, and epic mud sliding thanks to the powerful thunderstorms that brought out almost every kid and adult still left at the track to partake in sliding down the hill outside the track during the storm that stopped racing, it was a great weekend of racing fun.
South Park BMX is known for its super-fast downhill straights, big jumps, and its third
straight Pro-Set decision maker, but this year things changed. The third and fourth straights
were recently redesigned and to some riders dismay the Pro-Set was shortened and height
lowered, however this also sparked a younger generation of riders to try to use its
advantageous inside line. Riders as young as twelve jumped their way into better spots by
hitting it, even though the following double and near 180-degree hairpin turn required most of
them to slow down you could usually still pick up a couple of spots by taking it. This made it
almost necessary to take it to make your mains in those classes. The height change also brought
issues for the older riders as they were over jumping it, but track changes aside one thing that
did not change was the exciting racing that South Park BMX always has.
Passing thunderstorms were forecast for the entire weekend, which is exactly what
happened. The South Park BMX track volunteers kept the track in excellent shape considering
the amount of rainfall that they received and had tarps at hand to cover the track every time a
passing storm came through. Saturday’s race was cut short when the passing storm stalled and
brought a few inches of rainfall and had to be finished Sunday morning before Sunday’s race
began. With more bad weather in the forecast for Sunday afternoon, Day Three’s race started
with a One Moto Transfer which helped to get the Main Events in right before the rain started
during the last moto’s that day.
This weekend was Round-9 of the 2019 GoPro Pro Series and the action was hot.
Watching the Pros warm up was when you could see the short comings of the Pro Set, several
of them overjumped it by a few feet landing flat, but after practice they had it figured out.
Jayce Cunning won both days of A Pro, with Nick Dawson coming in second and Brandon
Roharik finishing third on Day One. On Day Two Roharik finished second and Thomas Zula
Vet Pro Day One had Ademir Silva Jr finishing first, Miguel Castro in second and Josh
Smith in third. Sunday Josh Smith took the early lead and was out-front by half of a straight and
easily took the win, Ademir Silva Jr was stuck in traffic early on and took Second and Josh
Lekaunas finished in third.
Felicia Stancil led every lap in Womens Pro and won both days, Ashley Verhagen took
second both days leaving Elida Beeman and Samantha Miller to take third Day One and Two
Connor Fields won both Days of AA Pro, Day One Justin Posey finished second and
Kenneth Gustofson third, Posey and Gustofson swapped finishes on Day Two.
Sunday’s Pro Open had Andrew Hughes and Alec Bob fighting for first place all of the
way to the third straight where they each chose a different path, Hughes took the Pro Set and
Bob took the long way around, even though they chose different paths they finished in the
same order and same distance from each other leaving you to wonder if the Pro Set was that
much faster all of the time. Shannon Taylor finished in third several bike lengths behind the
Korie Gilbert won all three days of 17-20 Women Cruiser, Marianna Gigliuto finished
second on Day’s One and Three and third on Day Two. DJ Harvey came in third on Day One, and
Gabby Crane Finished second on Day Two and third on Day Three.
12 Cruiser rider Parker Respass was one of the youngest riders I saw that hit the Pro Set,
not that he needed to since he always had at least a four-bike lead on his 24, maybe he was
preparing for Sunday when he would turn 13 where a lot more riders were doing it in the
Expert Class. Parker won all three days he raced Cruiser, Day’s One and Two were in the 12
Cruiser class while Day Three was in 13 Cruiser.
In the 14 Cruiser class Blake Powell and Dallas Gardener battled side-by side every day
until the third straight, where Powell would always try to take the Pro Set and Gardener the
longer way around. Day Two was different, Gardener got outside Powell in the second turn and
blocked him from veering right and they both took the slow way around. In the end it didn’t
work out for Gardener as he was passed on the last table by Powell. This left Powell to win all
three days, Gardener getting second on Day Two and Three and Evan Menditto snatching up a
Second on Day One by following Powell through the Pro Set but finishing third the next two
Day Two 17-20 Cruiser just proves that you should not stop racing until the end, there was a three-rider breakaway led by Nathan Davids, until the third straight. Davids and Brian Theirwechter were side-by-side fighting hard for first and Davids front tire washed out, still clipped in but with both tires in front of him, he made a hard right taking Theirwechter out with him. Now third place rider Yavant Hausler hit the gas and rode right past them for the win.
Right before fourth place rider Deemer Decker got to them they somehow quickly got up and back on their bikes, but decker rode past them to claim his second-place finish, meanwhile
Davids was fastest to start pedaling so he finished in third.
The 9 Expert class was action packed and won by Brady King every day, Day one ended
with a bang when second place rider Justin Donahue’s front tire hit the tip of the last roller,
fourth place rider Evan Douglass also had a mis-step in the same spot and took himself out as
well, leaving the finishing order King, Taylor Koll, and Jacob Lange.
13 Expert Day One was the only day that South Park BMX’s local rider, Gavin Stazetski,
didn’t win. Tyler Bailey was leading the race and coming out of the second turn he had the
advantage over Gavin because he came out to the left leading Stazetski away from the Pro Set
but still taking it himself. Stazetski worked hard through the longer side and came close to
catching up but couldn’t quite get there. Meanwhile along the last straight third place rider
Ethan Popovich was picking up speed and Passed Tyler Bailey right before the line.
That’s it from South Park BMX, see you in Las Vegas.