Glen Helen is World Class track and its no surprise that Dubya USA chooses to host the annual 32nd annual Vet world Champs at this amazing track. Vet motocross Riders from all over the USA and World come to Glen Helen in hopes to be the fastest rider in their respected age group and class. Classes range from the highly competitive 30+ pro, 25+ novice to 70+ open. With that being said it makes the track development like no other. The bumps start earlier and end later due to the diversity of talent on the track in one day.
This year I knew my competition was going to be tough with the likes of New Zealand MXGP star Josh Coppins, fellow Kiwi Darryl Hurley, former 125cc West Champ and Yamaha test rider Travis Preston and the usually rippers Sean Collier and Arik Swan. I was bummed defending champ and fellow KTM employee Ryan Morais wasn’t going to be racing after a practice crash a few months earlier had him not wanting to race.
For myself the 2016 Vet World Champs at Glen was one to remember after being a shocker of a race in 2015 and 2014 Travis Preston had me covered quite easily. I came into the 2016 race in great shape and healthy and wanted nothing more to put my KTM North American R&D 350sxf on top of the box. I knew it wouldn’t be easy with each year I get older and the new 30 year old riders come in to the race ready to rip. This year I came in as prepared as I was going to be. I was doing motos during the week and racing REM on Saturdays with my good friend Mike Diorio 30 intermediate contender and 40 and 50 plus pro contender Kurt Nicol.
Race day was here and I was feeling pretty damn nervous! I put the work in, my bike was dialed so it was up to me. The gate dropped for the 1st moto and I found myself right where I wanted myself to be, upfront by the time I got to the top of Mt. St Helen. Once I got to the top of Mt. Saint Helen and went to pull a tear off and the tear off ripped. I fully freaked out and Josh Coppins got me down the down hill while I was trying to pull my ripped tear off of the other one. While I was freaking out Travis Preston got me also and now I was really tripping! 3 laps later I was able to sort out my tear off issue and I found myself back in the race. I passed Preston back for 2nd going into Talladega and went after Coppins. He was riding so smooth and while I was trying to find a place to pass I was over riding the track and it caused me to pump up. We had put a gap on Preston and the rest of the field so after making a couple big mistakes I decided to settle for 2nd.
After I got back to my Van from the 1st moto I was relieved I had the speed but I was a little worried that I would pump up again in the 2nd moto and if I did I was not going to beat Coppins. The 2nd moto I lined up right next to Coppins and when the gate dropped my 350sxf shot out like a cannon and it was a drag race to the 1st turn where I came out with the lead. Collier ran me deep into turn 2 after he didn’t lift on his KX 500, but I was able to sneak through and hold onto the lead. The race was on!!! the moto 1 winner was right on me when we crossed the start finish line. For the next couple laps I rode at 95% and had a plan that if the boys were faster they needed to go around me. I wanted to save a little and not get tight like the 1st moto. While I was putting in some solid laps Coppins was all over me and he went for the pass after the finish line and made a slight mistake. That gave me a 4 sec lead at the half way mark. I put my head down and dropped the hammer. I changed up some lines since I had some room and that was all I needed to go on to win the moto and the Overall on the day.
I couldn’t have been more stoked! In the big picture these races don’t mean that much, but it was a personal goal of mine and I made it happen. I sacrificed time away from my wife and children to train and race prior to the race so it felt good to make it happen! On another not Kurt finished 2nd to Darryl Hurley in the 40+ class and won the 50+ class by a mile. My buddy Mike also won his first Vet title in the 30+ class. We left GH feeling pretty good about ourselves that’s for damn sure because winning is just rad no matter what you win! Next year the targets on my back, but until then I’m stoked to pencil my name in the book of past winners.