Saddlemen

Gaitten Unstoppable at Action Sports Vintage CC National

| 5 July 2012 2:11 pm

Ohio Vintage Cross Country Nationals
Action Sports Moto Park

Story and Photos by David L. Patton Jr.
ATHENS, OH, JUNE 23-24, 2012

No one could put the brakes on Josh Gaitten (75K) at the Ohio Vintage Cross Country Nationals.

Josh Gaitten is one of Ohio’s top enduro riders, and he dominated the 2012 Ohio Vintage Cross Country Nationals. Riders traveled from as far away as Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Wisconsin and New Mexico to challenge Gaitten, but in the end it was a veteran trio of southeastern Ohio’s finest riders who chased Gaitten home. Tim Shephard and Gary Roach have a great deal of experience racing vintage bikes, and they kept the pressure on Gaitten. Also, area fans were thrilled to see Terry Cunningham, one of the greatest off-road riders ever, return to action at the Action Sports Moto Park.

Terry Cunningham (36) returned to action at the Action Sports Moto Park.

Saturday

The first event of the weekend was the Penton Owners Group Vintage Cross Country Race, for bikes from 1974 or before. As Josh Gaitten waited for the dead-engine start, he assessed his chances.

“I have Gary Roach here beside me and Tim Shephard down on the end,” he noted. “They have a lot of experience on these bikes; they rode them when the bikes were new. I have logged quite a few laps here, and I am hoping that will help me.”

When Kyle Wolfe dropped the green flag, Cunningham and Roach jumped out in front, with Gaitten running near the leaders.

“I actually got a good start,” Gaitten said. “I have had a hard time starting these bikes, but it lit right off.”

Despite a bad start, Tim Shephard (11W) moved quickly toward the front.

Shephard, however, was buried at the back of the field.

“I thought it would start first kick, but I missed the kicker,” Shephard said. “I said to myself, ‘It’s an hour-long race; let’s just pick it up and start moving to the front.’”

By the end of the first lap, Gaitten had taken the lead.

“I followed T.C. and Gary for a while and got comfortable on the bike,” Gaitten said. “Once I got out of front, I just tried to keep it smooth, upright, and running.”

Shephard had destroyed the competition at last year’s race, and he was pushing the SCR-backed Yamaha YZ360 hard. On the second lap, Shephard had passed Cunningham and was battling Roach. Shephard took over second on the third lap.

Terry Cunningham (36) at speed on the Action Sports Vintage Cross Country course.

“Gary was riding really well,” Shephard recounted. “Then he had a problem with his bike. While battling with Gary, I lost track of Josh. I figured when Josh got his lines down and got used to the bike, he would be gone.”

Gaitten clicked off fast lap after fast lap on the Team Pentovarna/ GMR-backed 400 KTM on his way to an impressive win.

“The bike worked great, ran clean, and handled good,” Gaitten reported. “These guys really know how to build these bikes.”

Shephard claimed second, with Roach finishing in third.

Sunday

Josh Gaitten was looking forward to the Post-Vintage Cross Country race.

“These bikes have suspension similar to what I am used to,” he said.

The Post-Vintage class is for bikes from 1983 or older, and Terry Cunningham was excited to be on a Husqvarna similar to those he’d raced in the ’80s, when he won four National Enduro Championships.

Terry Cunningham (173) took the early lead in Post-Vintage Cross Country action.

“I had only ridden a 1974 Husky once in my career,” Cunningham said. “I am really comfortable on the ’83 bike.”

Cunningham got a great start on the Keytime Motorsports.com-backed Husky, and he quickly grabbed the lead. Tim Shephard was late getting to the line and he was left behind on the start, but he got a huge break.

“As I got to the start, everyone took off,” Shephard said. “When I got into the first turn, Josh was right in front of me.”

“I got a midpack start,” Gaitten explained. “Then I didn’t have the clutch in all of the way when I hit the rear brake, stalling the bike.”

The duo quickly regrouped, and then they carved their way through the field.

Josh Gaitten (75K) sails over a tabletop in Post-Vintage racing on Sunday.

“Drew, Kyle and Ryan [Wolfe] have the course in great shape, and it is easy to pass,” said Gaitten.

By the end of the first lap, Cunningham had the lead, but Gaitten was right on his rear wheel, with Shephard coming on hard. On lap two, T.C. moved over, and Gaitten and Shephard took their battle to the front. Gaitten pulled out a small edge, but on the fourth lap, Shephard had the lead.

“It took me two or three laps to get going,” Shephard admitted. “Then Josh had a bike problem back there, and I took the lead. Then the race was on, and we were bumping and banging.”

Despite a slow start, Tim Shephard (11W) was quickly in contention.

“We were cruising along pretty good,” Gaitten said. “Then I got into lapped riders and stalled it, and Shephard got by. I caught back up, and that last lap got interesting. About halfway through the lap, I tried to make a pass on the inside, but he had a wheel on me and he decided to take the inside line and came over, and we hit pretty hard. I could tell Tim was getting tired, and I was hoping he would make a mistake, but he held it together.”

Tim Shephard (11W) leads Josh Gaitten (75K) on the last lap.

Gaitten quickly recovered and was hounding Shephard as they headed toward the big downhill, and that’s where Shephard made a critical mistake.

“I left the door open on the big downhill,” Shephard confessed. “I knew that was where Josh would try to get me. But I couldn’t get on the brakes enough and he put a perfect block-pass on me.”

Gaitten’s 495 KTM pulled Shephard on the uphill, and Gaitten ran off with the win. Cunningham claimed third overall.

Josh Gaitten takes a narrow Post-Vintage Cross Country win over Tim Shephard.

Despite the runner-up finish, Shephard enjoyed the race.

“It was one of the best races I have had in a long time,” he said.

“It was great racing like that on these old bikes,” Josh said after his hard-earned victory.

Though both 30-year-old bikes held up in their furious battle, after the race, Shephard’s front wheel would barely turn; the brutal pace had caused his brake shoes to swell up and nearly lock the wheel.

Action Sports Moto Park
Athens, Ohio
Results: June 23-24, 2012

Saturday – Vintage Cross Country

PREMIER EX: 1. James Smith (BSA).

CLASSIC NOV: 1. Jim Collis (Mon).

CLASSIC INT: 1. Jerry Reagan Jr. (Hod); 2. Eric Peacock (Hon).

SPORTSMAN INT: 1. Trey Allison III (Hod).

SPORTSMAN 100 EX: 1. Corky Root (Hod).

SPORTSMAN 200 NOV: 1. William Haschak (Pen).

SPORTSMAN 200 INT: 1. Michael Ruggiere (Ben); 2. Greg Barratt (Puc); 3. Tom Murphy (Pen).

SPORTSMAN 200 EX: 1. Mike Parker (Pen); 2. Jerry Grakauskas (Pen).

SPORTSMAN OPEN NOV: 1. John Dinunzio (CZ); 2. Sean Guthrie (Pen).

SPORTSMAN OPEN INT: 1. Greg Payne (Suz); 2. Robert Shough Jr. (Kaw).

SPORTSMAN OPEN EX: 1. Josh Gaitten (Pen); 2. Rick Custard Jr. (Yam); 3. Mike Scholl (Hsq); 4. Gary Roach (Pen).

VINTAGE WOMEN NOV: 1. Melanie Leader (Yam).

VINTAGE WOMEN INT: 1. Toni Roach (Pen).

VINTAGE 50+ INT: 1. Mark Kaho (Hsq); 2. Marty Strouse (Hsq); 3. Steve Charles; 4. Bill Hanks (Pen); 5. Mike Hufnagel (Pen).

VINTAGE 50+ EX: 1. Tim Shephard (Yam); 2. Terry Cunningham (Hsq); 3. Timothy Grow (Hsq); 4. David Lamberth (Hon); 5. Mike Allen (Hsq).

VINTAGE 60+ NOV: 1. James Foster Jr. (Tri).

VINTAGE 60+ INT: 1. Dwight Gill (Pen); 2. Bruce Hughes (Hsq).

VINTAGE 60+ EX: 1. Rick Aguilar (Oss).

VINTAGE 70+ NOV: 1. Richard Light (Kaw).

VINTAGE 70+ EX: 1. Zahn Lewis (Suz); 2. Teddy Landers (Pen).

POST-VINTAGE WOMEN NOV: 1. Becky Hayes (Yam).

POST-VINTAGE WOMEN INT: 1. Polly Grow (Hon).

POST-VINTAGE 70+ NOV: 1. Whitey Parker (Hon); 2. W. Daniel Kidd (Kaw).

POST-VINTAGE OPEN NOV: 1. Briar Dill (Kaw).

Sunday – Post-Vintage Cross Country

POST-VINTAGE 200 INT: 1. Robbie Proffitt (Yam); 2. Jesse Parker (Hon); 3. Michael Freas (Kaw); 4. Jeffery Volk (Yam); 5. Polly Grow (Hon).

POST-VINTAGE 200 EX: 1. Tom McPeek (Yam).

POST-VINTAGE OPEN INT: 1. John Owen (Hon); 2. Joseph Cole (Hsq); 3. Shawn Woodward (Hsq); 4. Robert Shough Jr. (Kaw).

POST-VINTAGE OPEN EX: 1. Josh Gaitten (Pen); 2. Neil Bouchillon (Yam); 3. Mark Abdella (Yam); 4. Craig Hayes (Hsq).

POST-VINTAGE 50+ INT: 1. Marty Strouse (Hsq); 2. Lee Stebleton (Hon); 3. Matthew Hare (Hsq).

POST-VINTAGE 50+ EX: 1. Tim Shephard (Yam); 2. Terry Cunningham (Hsq); 3. Timothy Grow (Hsq); 4. Mark Kaho (Yam); 5. Roger Ford (Yam).

POST-VINTAGE 60+ INT: 1. Rick Huth; 2. Mike Zdybak (Yam).

POST-VINTAGE 60+ EX: 1. Dennis Brown (Hsq).

POST-VINTAGE 70+ INT: 1. Chuck Matheny (Yam); 2. Robert McMillen (Suz).

POST-VINTAGE 70+ EX: 1. Zahn Lewis (Hon); 2. Teddy Landers (KTM).

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Category: Cross Country, National, Vintage, Vintage Off-Road

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