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2015 Stars and Stripes Nationals Race Report

Filed under General on July 03, 2015 | Comment(s)

FRIDAY

Lately the USA BMX semi truck has felt like Joe Btfsplk. For the younger folk, Joe was a character in an old newspaper cartoon called Li’l Abner. No matter where he went a dark cloud hovered above him.

 The legendary South Park BMX has had plenty of the precipitation this spring as have most tracks in the Eastern half of the country but the local crew here turned out another great track. There is a challenging step-up, step-down halfway down the first straight and a redesigned third straight that is putting even the best riders to the test.

 With the Pan-Am Games just a week away and the World Championships a few weeks after that, it was up in the air as to who we’d see make the trek out to the Keystone State. As motos went up we saw 19 Elite Men, including 2011 Pan Am Games Gold Medalist Connor Fields, in attendance. The rain held off until the third round of pro action. A fine mist started to give the track a needed watering but made the gate pad and turn just a little slicker than normal. In the final moto of Elite Men, Kenny G took it a bit wide and ran Connor a little wider than he was comfortable with in the first turn. There was a bit of chatter towards the exit of the turn and in last straight Kenny G found himself in a huge mud hole in the infield. No contact was made between him and the Con-Man and they smoothed things over afterwards. Both eventually qualified for the main where Fields was victorious. That’s racing. “The Herminator” David Herman looked ultra smooth in his second place effort and Stay Stong’s Tanner Sebesta was able to secure his first podium of the year with a strong third place finish.

Elite women had 2 racks of motos and was missing some of the usual suspects but the racing was fantastic none the less. Haro’s Brooke Crain looked good all day long and she took full advantage of being at the jumper’s paradise known as South Park BMX. She was able to overcome the elements and stay consistent for the win. Another Pan Am Games participant, Gt’s Felicia Stancil was in attendance and scored up the two spot and Chase/DHR’s Dani George was able to avoid some first turn carnage to round out the podium for day one.

We also had a few awesome amateur races in tonight’s 88 moto pre-race. In 10 Cruiser an awesome move in the second turn by Kentucky’s Gavin Lutz brought the crowd to their feet. He’d hold on for the win at the line. Another action packed main was in 14 Expert where the “fly guy” Paul Zentiska lived up to his moniker and took to the air to pass Out2win’s Aiden Kelly and take the victory.

We beat out the big rainstorm that was heading in later in the evening and the rest of the weekend looks very promising weather wise. We have no doubt about the racing action as it will be sizzling hot much to the chagrin of cartoonist Al Capp’s gloomy character.

 

 

 

Saturday

 

“There’s those clouds again” belted out gate starter and USA BMX transportation engineer Ron Jones. The day started out on the hazy side but ended up being absolutely gorgeous with no rain.

 As motos were posted we got our first view of the 26 men competing in the class and were surprised to see former Vet Pro champions Matt Pohlkamp and Cristian Becerine lining up with young men 20+ years their junior (both are 38). Things were definitely going to be exciting as these two are know to hold their own. Becerine, or “Big C” as some call him, took the youngsters to school for most of the day by winning lap after lap. The newest A-Pro Derik Bergh was also laying down some impressive first straights and even won his first lap ever in the class.

 

Once semis rolled around the both Vets looked poised to make the main event with Becerine winning his and Pohlkamp fighting for the final spot down the last straight but it just wasn’t meant to be for the Hollywood actor this time as he finished 5th.

 

After watching Becerine win all day long, he was easily the favorite for the win, especially from gate one. As the gate dropped, he delivered as shot straight to the front of the pack. Unbeknownst to him his skillful SSquared teammate Tyler Whitfield was languishing right behind him. “T-Whit” took a super inside line over the third straight pro set and was able to make the insane pass as they entered the final turn. While Becerine was trying to hold his line, Haro~Promax’s Andrew Townsend found his way around the former Vet Pro Champion as well and finished up in the second spot. We’ll see if Becerine decides to give it another against the kids tomorrow.

 

 

 The fastest ladies in all the land put on a show for the fans once again. Throughout the day’s qualifying rounds Haro’s Brooke Crain and GT’s Felecia Stancil looked primed to make their way onto the podium. Once the ladies lined up for the main and chose lanes adjacent to each other, we knew that we were going to be in for an early fireworks display on this 4th of July. Once the gate slapped down all eyes were on these two and for the right reasons. Felicia got the pop on Brooke and immediately closed the door at the bottom of the hill. Crain simply ran out of room and made an early exit into the infield halfway down the first straight. Stancil was pulling away at this point while Chase/DHR’s tucked into the second spot. Florida Yess BMX pro Amanda Geving secured the final spot on the podium (her first of the season) with some impressive riding.

With the number of riders falling to 16 for their second day of racing, each lap and subsequent finish position became more important than during yesterday’s event. Day one winner Connor Fields had a bit of trouble during the rounds but managed to again find himself in the main event. Also joining him was Chase/DHR’s Anthony Dean who was sporting some Band-Aids on his chin from a tumble he took in yesterday’s semi. Come main event time it was really anyone’s race as most of the gate had won at least one lap on the day including Crupi’s Argentinian Federico Villegas. Once the air ram released the horses, Fields cranked out and amazing first straight and took a commanding lead. The rest of the pack was busy jockeying for positions and Dean emerged in second. Close behind was Speedco’s Logan Collins who took his golden locks onto the podium in third.

We all dream of the day that a big USA BMX national event rolls into our hometown and we get to race on more than familiar soil. Those dreams often include some perfect laps against the best that the country has to offer. That dream came true for local 13 Expert Cameron Bramer today. We can only imagine how proud his friends, family and teammates were to watch him win not one, not two, but three classes. He started the day off by winning in open against 14 year olds, followed that up with a win on the big bike in cruiser and once more in the largest expert class of the day. We’ll see if he can capture the elusive triple-triple tomorrow.

 The only other triple on the day was secured by Ssquared’s Mckenzie Gayheart. “Skittles” jumped just about everything outside of the pro section on her way to three wins on the day. We hear that she’s going to give it a go at the world championships later this month in Belgium. With her skillset she’s sure to do well.

Cyaa’s Jason Baird laid the smack down on 16 cruiser be nearly half of the last straight. The kid looks like a middle linebacker and definitely can lay down some power.

 Jeremy Thompson is doing it for the Factory Powers Bike Shop crew and looked poised to be a National #1 Cruiser contender this season if he keeps riding like he did today. He held off Black Crown’s Shawn Diprete to grab a win in 41-45.

Local hero Anthony Jefferson looks more and more impressive every time we see him on the circuit. He took some familiar lines to victory and held off a hard charging Bob Coover. We hear that “the Coov” had a fresh pair on Vans on standby just incase the rain came before his main. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.

 

The 6 I group looks near ready to move up to the Expert ranks. Maryland’s Corey Brown, who is fresh off a second place finish at the East Coast nationals, wasn’t going to be denied today. The action right behind him was epic as Barrett Wienk muscled his way into the two spot right before the final turn. Good job young fellas.

 We like pink bikes, especially when they’re out front and 9 I Zackary Miller delivered. Coincidentally he’s also from Maryland. We wonder what Tom Sinchak is putting in the water down there.

 

Vendetta’s east coast threat Payton Ridenour looks faster every time we see her. She could probably race a few age classes up and still hold her own. She is that fast.

15-16 Girls was the largest class of the day and Factory Powers’ Kristen Klein took her prototype titanium forks straight to the front of the group. She’s well on here way to contending for the National Age Group Title and possibly the National #1 title if she can win a few more big events.

 It’s not too often that we find someone if front of the Nag Hag Meredith Lidstone, especially on a technical course like South Park but it happened today. The “recycled teenager” Monica Kelly represented the revamp of TNT Bicycles well and won the 31 & over Women’s class.

 

 There was an awesome battle between Gavin Freewalt and Aussie transplant Jack Davis in 12 Expert. This type of track really suits Jack’s riding style but he just couldn’t manage to find a way around Freewalt.

 14 Expert was hands down the best race of the day. Hostile Elite’s Aram Schwinn looked like he was just going to walk away as the group made it down the tiered course but C-Yaa Factory’s Evan Sinchak had one more trick up his sleeve. As they exited turn 2 Evan bolted towards the big pro set as Aram took to the outside. Sinchak came in so fast that his momentum carried him well up the last turn where the crafty Texan Schwinn was already making his hi-low move. This set up Schwinn perfect on the exit of the final turn where he regained the lead for good. We can’t wait to see these guys go at it again tomorrow.

 In the 16 Expert class there was a bit of rubbing in turn one and Jason Baird’s bike somehow ended up going over the turn without him. The scramble was on for the lead and SSquared’s Nick Deters emerged as the leader. The World Champion Bubba Gonzales gave it everything he had to catch the dynamite one but was simply a bit too far back to make anything happen.

 Early in practice we spotted 46 & Over Vegas local Gary Laurent sizing up the enormous step-table out of turn two. Try as he might California’s Bob Coover held the lead throughout the final lap of the day. Laurent didn’t give up and out smoothed Coover down the final dogleg straight to slide by for the win.

No rain and hot temps was the story on day one which ended well before dark and allowed families to get a bite to eat before catching the local Independence Day fireworks show.

 

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Tags: bmx, USABMX
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