Nationals at South Park BMX always bring some of the fastest craziest downhill racing and this year was no exception, although it didn’t start out looking that way due to the weather. Upon arriving at the track on Wednesday night we were met with rain and lots of it. So much rain that Thursdays all day practice session and clinic was cancelled, and it rained most of the day. When you ask how the track looks and get responses describing it as looking like the surface of the moon, it didn’t sound good or make it seem like we would see any form of fast racing this weekend. Thursday the track was covered and left that way until Friday morning when luckily the team of volunteers worked their magic and had the track ridable for the only practice session of the weekend as Saturday’s practice was cancelled due to the possible large turnout over the holiday weekend. Making the track ridable was not an easy feat and required the entire stock of kitty litter from a local store, raking and blow torching the dirt to mold it back into its former dry shape. By Friday night the track was just as fast as ever, and the racing was just like you would expect, incredible. Day One started out almost like an indoor National where after some laps are put down the track surface starts to harden, and before you know it the track is buttery smooth. Just like every other time there is a National here this weekend was littered with some serious carnage, even during first round qualifying laps whole racks of Expert Girls went down multiple times trying to claim their spot in the Main Events. The USA BMX Live Feed camera was even involved in some qualifying mayhem, when it and the railing that was protecting it was ripped from the deck where it was setup.
Pro racing even had a tough time on Friday when the legendary Pro Set was an optional path around the track rather than being mandatory. In practice many amateur riders were thrown from their bikes after landing and hitting the soft slow dirt following the first jump, so it was not really a viable path. There was a decent Pro turnout even though the weather was not forecast to be very nice, there were just under 50 riders there on Friday. Day One’s Vet Pro final Main was the not miss Pro Moto of the weekend, Johnathan Suarez pulled Barry Nobles on the first straight, as he had all weekend, and held that lead into the second turn, then Nobles flew past him on the third straight. Suarez tried to get under Nobles in the final turn but bumped Nobles and had to pull the brake before being ejected off the turn. Having won one other Main out of the three this was the only day that landed him on the top podium spot this weekend, Suarez grabbed up the next two days top spots. Olivia Armstrong took the win both days in Women Pro and Joris Daudet had a fairly easy time snatching up two wins in Men’s Pro. Even through the 15 – 16 Expert Girls class was littered with wrecks all weekend Manuela Munoz Velez managed to have a perfect weekend winning all three days. This was the pattern for a lot of the Girls/Womens classes as Maizey Walser, Malia Alverez, Maya Gadbois, Hannah Leakey, Shelby Elder, Valentina Davalos, Elida Beeman, Danielle Jolicoeur, and Hidi Cramer all went home with triple wins this weekend. There were so many great laps put down this weekend by the Boys/Men it is hard to pick which ones were the best but there were a couple of stand-out classes where the racing was over the top.
Rippers as young as 13 were hitting the Pro Set with success, if you managed to make it through there it was definitely shorter and put you into the last turn under the outside path so you could be at an advantage over the outside riders. This did not always help though since the angle from the Pro Set exit was sharp it was easy to wash out and finish last as local rider Tommy Bruny found out on Day Two when he did exactly that. When he came into the last turn three wide he sent the two outside riders smashing into each other, and this ejected Sawyer Sides into the strider track. Local 15 Expert rider Gavin Stazetski had his hands full this weekend with Ronnie Kim, the first two days Kim had the fastest first straight and he never lost the lead and won both days. Finally on Sunday Superman Stazetski had a perfect first straight and took the lead but it was short lived when he unclipped on the second straight and Kim took back the lead and went on to win the final day as well. I do not think that it was a big surprise that local rider Cameron Bramer won the first two days in 17 – 20 Expert being that it is his home track, but what was a surprise was on day three when he had a giant lead over Drew Polk going into turn two, and he was chased down on the third straight and had the door shut on him in the final turn allowing Drew to steal the win for the final 17 – 30 Expert Main. One this is for sure South Park does not disappoint, even though the weekend had started out looking grim due to the weather forecast, which probably kept the moto count in the 200’s, the racing had some of the best action-packed moto’s I have seen all year. This is always one of those not-miss weekends so make sure to add it to your calendar next time we are back here.
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