Action Sports Team Hare Scrambles Championship of the World
Action Sports Moto Park
Story and Photos by David L. Patton Jr.
ATHENS, OH, NOV. 17, 2012
The 28th running of the Action Sports Team Hare Scrambles Championship of the World, presented by Hatfield-McCoy Trails and Ohio Motorcycle, capped off a great season of racing in Athens, Ohio. For the weekend, some 330 teams showed up for the biggest team hare scrambles race in the country, and Zach Klamfoth & Christopher Robertson edged Josh Gaitten & Sam Evans in the motorcycle races on Saturday.
For Klamfoth, it has been a great season. He won a gold medal at the prestigious International Six Days Enduro in Germany, one of the few Americans to earn gold in the grueling week-long race. Klamfoth also swept the Lightweight A-class and Open A-class series championships in Action Sports Grand Prix racing, and he came from behind to pass Sam Evans in the last few turns to claim the Pro-class World Championship to go with his Father-and-Son World Championship that he won Saturday morning.
The change to Daylight Savings Time meant that the Mini riders had to start their race at 8:30 a.m., and the wet conditions left over from Superstorm Sandy, combined with below-freezing temperatures at night, meant they were racing on an ice rink. The Minis were rerouted around the biggest uphills, but the riders still faced a difficult course. However, 85cc Mini Junior riders Eli Cradlebaugh & Hayden Vancuren were unfazed by the ice and rolled to the overall win.
The Open/ Grudge class in the morning session featured many of the Pro riders who would be after the World Championship later in the day, though many had different partners in the morning races. The Team Hare Scrambles event starts off with a dead-engine, Le Mans-style start, in which the racers run about 20 feet to their bikes, fire them up and go, and when Kyle Wolfe waved the green flag, Chris McGomery won the foot race and blasted into the lead. The field chased McGomery’s Cycra/ Athens Sport Cycles KTM, but Sam Evans and Christopher Robertson were left behind, as they lost time trying to get their bikes to start.
“I got a perfect start and it was really, really slick out there,” said McGomery. “In some spots, it is still frozen. My goal was to not go down on the first lap.”
He led the whole lap until the first part of the S turn 20 feet from the scoring barrels, where Evans caught him and block-passed his way into the lead. Evans held the lead for about three feet; then the slippery corner almost took him down, and McGomery retook the lead.
Josh Gaitten also struggled on the first lap.
“The whole track is like a sheet of ice,” Gaitten reports. “I gave up a lot of time on the first lap when I could not make it uphill. It took three tries to get up it; it was ugly. They ended up cutting that section out, so I don’t think I was the only one having trouble there.”
The fastest rider on the course, though, was Zach Klamfoth, on the Wheelsports KTM/ JD Performance/ Rekluse-backed KTM 250. Klamfoth started a few rows behind the Open class, but he was leading the overall when he handed off to his father, Scott.
“It is kind of sketchy,” Zach said. “You get going good and hit an ice spot and it’s like, ‘Oh, sh-t.’ Hopefully it will thaw out.”
McGomery was able to hold off Evans for all three laps of his first shift.
“In the tight stuff, where it’s dry, I can stay away from Sam, but in the parts where it is frozen, he is flying,” McGomery said. “It’s going to be close, going to be interesting.”
“The second and third laps were the worst for me,” said Evans. “I was right behind McGomery. Then I wrecked on the uphill-double in the woods. I slid out as I went off the jump and landed sideways. It was not good.”
Gaitten had to pit a lap early due to a sick motorcycle.
“The motor is letting go,” Gaitten said. “I will ride my partner’s KTM 150 the rest of the race.”
The top three teams maintained their positions until the halfway point, when Evans’ teammate Tristian Stumbo moved his Team Hardcore Racing KTM past Triston Landrum, who was teaming with McGomery. The two teams were evenly matched, but on the next rider switch, it all came apart for McGomery & Landrum.
“We couldn’t get the clip on the tag to work,” Landrum lamented.
While the leaders had been battling, Team Hardcore Racing/ Sportcycles Racing-backed Ryan Slopko was reeling them in.
“It’s a lot of run teaming with Josh Gaitten; it gives me something to go off of to see how I am doing,” Slopko said.
McGomery found himself 10 seconds behind, as Evans and Gaitten ran up front. Evans was going fast, but the course was still treacherous.
“I pulled out to about a 20-second lead,” Evans said. “Then I wrecked and gave it all back.”
One more rider switch and the teams pushed hard for the win. At the finish, Stumbo held the lead and claimed the win.
“The track was a lot of fun today,” Stumbo said.
Evans appreciated Stumbo’s effort, remarking, “Tristian kept it off the ground today, something I wasn’t able to do; he got the job done for us to win.”
Slopko came through in second after a solid ride with his teammate Gaitten.
“I lost a bunch of time on the first lap and Ryan went out and got it all back,” Gaitten said. “Then we just kept plugging away. I thought Ryan might have a chance to make a pass on the last lap, but it didn’t work out – but we still had a good race.”
Between races, Josh Gaitten’s dad washed the KTM Sportmotorcycles/ Wheelsports/ Taulbee Chiropractic-backed KTM and then put in a new piston.
“It is a lot more work than he planned on doing today, but if I get a good result, he will be happy,” Josh said, smiling.
After a quick break-in ride in a back field, Josh was ready to go.
The course had dried out, and promoter Drew Wolfe and his son Ryan used a chainsaw to reroute the course around the worst areas. The weather was perfect when the Pro class lined up for the Le Mans start.
Once again, Chris McGomery got a great start, but Zach Klamfoth, Josh Gaitten and Levi Keller were on his back wheel as they blasted into the first woods section. McGomery kept the throttle pinned for the first lap and came through a few seconds clear of Klamfoth. Once again, Gaitten fell back on the first lap.
“I had a fall right off the bat,” Gaitten confessed. “I don’t really know what happened. The sun is real bad in spots, and when it hits you in the eyes, you lose sight. I tagged something with my right handguard and it spun me around pretty good. Then I hit a couple of trees. I ended up under the rear wheel of my bike, which was facing the wrong way on the trail.”
His miscue dropped him 24 second behind the leaders.
McGomery was struggling to hold off Klamfoth on lap two.
“Klamfoth is riding really well,” McGomery said, “and in the tight stuff, he was obviously riding better, so I let him go.”
Klamfoth took over the lead and settled into a quick pace.
“I just tried to ride like I did this morning,” Klamfoth said. “The course is better, but it is getting really rough.”
Klamfoth had pulled his Enduro Engineering/ Fly Racing/ Western Powersports-backed KTM out to a 20-second lead second lead by the time he handed off to Christopher Robertson. He pushed the Robertson Motor Freight/ Cometic/ Twin Air-backed Yamaha YZ250 hard and added to their lead.
“It’s good,” Klamfoth said. “I was just trying to get settled in. The track has changed a lot from the morning, and now it’s pretty good.”
After four laps, Gaitten & Evans had pulled into second place, but they were 24 seconds behind, and Klamfoth & Robertson were on the gas. McGomery & Triston Landrum were in a battle with Keller & Nathan Skaggs for third place, and former National Hare Scrambles and Action Sports Team Hare Scrambles Champion Doug Blackwell rounded out the top five with his partner Brady Myers. Blackwell had never ridden at the Action Sports Moto Park before.
“It is the first time I have been here; it’s a neat place, about 150 turns a lap,” Blackwell joked. “I am starting to figure it out.”
Robertson was on the course in the second hour when his Moto Master Brakes/ Bo’s Radical Racers/ Gigi’s-backed YZ had a problem.
“I think a ring broke,” Robertson reported. “It was still running but not very well.”
Robertson hustled the sick bike to the pits.
“I came in and grabbed Zach’s bike to get a couple more laps in,” he said.
Evans took over for Gaitten, and he blasted around the track, trying to get Robertson.
“I knew I had one lap to pass Robertson and pull out a gap,” Evans said. “Then Zach would be on the bike.”
Zach hit the course with two laps left and a five-second deficit to overcome. Evans was hammering the Team Hardcore Racing KTM Bestparts.com/ Fly Racing KTM around the course. Both riders ran their fastest lap of the day to that point – nine minutes and 44 seconds for Evans, and nine minutes and 41 seconds for Klamfoth. As the pair took the white flag, the crowd knew it would be a great ending.
Halfway through the lap, Klamfoth reeled in Evans and was looking for the lead.
“It’s a little hard to pass – one line in the woods and Sam was going fast,” Klamfoth said.
Evans responded to the pressure by riding even harder, and he put in a lap time of nine minutes and 39 seconds.
“I knew Zach was faster than me, and he was all over me,” Evans said. “In the tight stuff, I knew he couldn’t pass me, so I just tried to ride smart in the single-track stuff, then pick it up in the faster sections.”
As the riders hit the motocross track for the last dash to the finish, Klamfoth was running out of time to make a move, and Evans was trying to hold him off.
“Zach and I were just going at it,” Evans said.
On the downhill jump, Evans had to make a choice: “If you take the outside, you get a better drive up the hill, but you leave the inside line open so he can stuff it in, or I can take the inside and he goes outside with a better drive up the hill. I took my chances and went wide, and Zach did it perfect on the inside. He bounced off of me a little bit, but I still had the lead – but going up the hill, I was so far out of my line that I couldn’t hold him off, and after he passed me, there wasn’t any place to get him back.”
Klamfoth’s last lap was the best of the day – nine minutes and 37 seconds – and he took the win by a couple of bikelengths.
“It was a real nail-biter,” said Klamfoth. “We had a gap and thought we had it in the bag and could cruise to the win – but then it got real exciting.”
Evans knew he had given it everything he had.
“It was a great race,” he said, simply, and Evans’ partner Josh Gaitten agreed: “It was as good a race as you can get. I set us back in the beginning and we had to come back, and we did a pretty good job of it. It sucks to lose, but those are the best kind of races to have, right there.”
For Christopher Robertson, it was pretty simple: “My last two laps on Zach’s bike were just fast enough to keep us close enough so Zach could catch Sam and pull it out for us.”
Keller & Skaggs rounded out the podium with a solid effort, and they will be even faster next year.
As the winners celebrated, the fastest rider at the track took the checkered flag. Larry Pegram is one of America’s fastest Superbike racers, and though he wasn’t running flat out at 205 mph, he was still pushing as hard as he could.
“I had a lot of fun riding the old man’s class,” Pegram said. “Once my arms quit pumping up and the track dried out, I was able to ride faster than I ever had before in my life. I guess that is why I fell off twice,” he added with a smile.
Pegram and his partner Mark Kvamme finished seventh in the Over 30 class.
The 2013 West Virginia Indoor Motocross Championship will be held on January 4 and 5, 2013, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia. The 2013 Grand Prix Series will start on Saturday, April 13, 2013, at the Action Sports Moto Park. Call 740/594-MOTO (6686) or go to actionsportsracing.com for more information.
Stay tuned for coverage of the ATV portion of the Action Sports Team Hare Scrambles Championship of the World, which was held the following day.
Action Sports Moto Park
Results: November 17, 2012
65 (7-11): 1. Collin Ghearing/ Garrett Ghearing; 2. Arden Peck/ Asher Peck.
MINI JR: 1. Eli Cradlebaugh/ Hayden Vancuren; 2. Dylan Anderson/ Stevie Osborne.
MINI SR: 1. Colton Hale/ Nate Pinkerton.
IRONMAN MINI: 1. Tyler Silvia.
MINI FATHER & SON: 1. Dave Vancuren/ Hayden Vancuren; 2. Larry Silvia/ Tyler Silvia; 3. Jeremiah Cradlebaugh/ Eli Cradlebaugh; 4. Pat Pinkerton/ Nathan Pinkerton; 5. Todd Ghearing/ Collin Ghearing.
FATHER & SON: 1. Scott Klamfoth/ Zach Klamfoth; 2. Fred Beckert/ Cope Beckert; 3. Todd Ghearing/ Brandon Ghearing; 4. Scott Strickland/ Jordan Strickland; 5. Mark Randolph/ Peyton Randolph.
LIGHTWEIGHT NOV: 1. Garrett Coe/ Jaedon Walraven; 2. Charlie French/ R.J. Griffith; 3. Tyler Wickham/ Brayden Coler; 4. Chas Patton/ Brandon Fouts; 5. Andy Fraley/ Nathan Adkins.
LIGHTWEIGHT: 1. Tristian Stumbo/ Ryan Slopko; 2. Shade Huntley/ Jordan Strickland; 3. Jay Downhour/ Devan Byer; 4. Taylor Russell/ Nick Dickens; 5. Walker Fowler/ Becca Sheets.
HEAVYWEIGHT NOV: 1. Austin Smathers/ Tyler Gwinn; 2. Mike Downs/ Kyle Stalter; 3. Mike Clendenin/ Ben Oldham; 4. John Carry/ Cody Boles; 5. Scott Perrie/ Larry Taylor.
HEAVYWEIGHT: 1. Ben Francis/ Treavis Poynter; 2. Zack/ Andy Brannon; 3. Cory Chanex/ Ben Branhom; 4. Tucker Gillespie/ Micah Long; 5. Craig Oberholzer/ Michael Jolly.
PRO: 1. Christopher Robertson/ Zach Klamfoth; 2. Josh Gaitten/ Sam Evans; 3. Levi Keller/ Nathan Skaggs; 4. Chris McGomery/ Triston Landrum; 5. Doug Blackwell/ Brady Myers.
OPEN/ GRUDGE (Morning Session): 1. Sam Evans/ Tristian Stumbo; 2. Josh Gaitten/ Ryan Slopko; 3. Chris McGomery/ Triston Landrum; 4. Christopher Robertson/ Isaac Walton; 5. Jay Downhour/ Josh Collins.
IRONMAN (Morning Session): 1. Tyler Martin.
IRONMAN: 1. James Jerles.
30+: 1. Mike Crane/ Dave Vancuren; 2. Marty Kehlmeier/ Wayne Perdue; 3. Steve Thaxton/ Kyle Strickland; 4. Denny Swartz/ Jeff Husted; 5. Tony Sasser/ Jeremy Dexter.
40+: 1. Marty Kehlmeier/ Wayne Perdue; 2. Brent Windland/ Denny Swartz; 3. Lloyd Shaffer/ Keith Vermillion; 4. Kris Aldridge/ Dave Brown; 5. Mike Grady/ Steve Thaxton.
50+: 1. Les Wolfe/ Brent Windland; 2. Mike Cluse/ Tim Morrow.
DECADE: 1. Damon Sargent/ William Collins.
VINTAGE: 1. Shaun Woodward/ Greg Payne.