Action Sports Grand Prix Series
Round 4: Action Sports Moto Park
Story and Photos by David L. Patton Jr.
ATHENS, OH, JULY 14, 2013
Chris McGomery swept the Pro classes at round four of the 2013 Action Sports Grand Prix Series, sponsored by Hatfield-McCoy Trails and Ohio Motorcycle. McGomery had to chase down Isaac Walton in the Lightweight A class in the morning, and he and Walton battled in the Open A class in the afternoon race. Heavy rains earlier in the week and blistering-hot temperatures on race day challenged all of the riders, but McGomery had all the answers on this day.
Up-and-comer Devan Byer also won two classes, starting with the 125/200cc B class in the morning, and then he put together a charge on the final lap in the afternoon session to win the Schoolboy Two class and overtake Dalton Vecchiarelli, the 16-24 winner, for the overall victory.
One of the best races of the afternoon was between longtime competitors Keith Gwinn and Joe Evener. These two have raced against each other since 1994, and on this day they had a great battle in the Over 40 class, with both riders hitting the ground together. Gwinn got back up first, and he edged Evener to take the win.
In the Over 50 class, Jackson, Ohio’s Jeff Miller officially started another winning streak. Miller won 13 straight races at Action Sports from 2010 to 2012, and on this day he caught and passed many riders who’d started ahead of him to take his first win of the season.
The ATVs finished off a great day of racing, as Matt Pierce nailed the holeshot and blitzed the rest of the field. Cole Shifflet won the previous race, in June, but a terrible start on his practice bike buried him right from the start. Cole rode as hard as he could, but he couldn’t reel in Pierce, who never backed off.
“When I got the holeshot, I never looked back,” Pierce said. “I just kept trying to open up a lead.”
After the area received so much rainfall that many nearby areas had flooding and closed roads, Action Sports Promotion’s Drew Wolfe and his sons Kyle and Ryan had to reroute the course because of high water and impassable mudholes before the racing could begin. They did a great job.
As the field lined up for the first race of the day, a familiar face was back. After a long layoff, Isaac Walton returned to the Action Sports Moto Park, aboard a new KTM 250 two-stroke.
“I got the bike about two weeks ago,” Isaac reported. “It is stock, but it will be fun. I just hope it dries out.”
Walton timed the start perfectly and led Judson Coakley through the first turn. Chris McGomery’s Sport Cycles Racing/ Cycra-backed Yamaha was way behind at the start.
“I blew the start,” McGomery confessed. “My foot slipped off the kicker on the first kick, and it didn’t fire right away.”
Walton was pushing as hard as he could on the first lap, and he had a solid lead over Coakley and McGomery, who fell early on.
“The first lap, I was a little squirrely,” McGomery admitted. “Coming up the hill, I tried to pass Judy [Coakley] and hit him on the inside and fell down.”
McGomery was back on Coakley’s rear wheel at the end of the lap, and he tried to make a pass going into the woods but he nearly stalled the bike. McGomery recovered and took second spot shortly afterward.
“I finally passed him [Coakley] on the motocross track,” McGomery said, “and then I caught Isaac in the new section they had to add.”
“The first lap was nice – lots of dirt on top,” Walton recounted, “but the second lap, all the dirt was pushed off and it was hardpack and slick as ice. I went to the inside of a turn where there was still grass, hoping to get the front end to grab, and it whipped faster than I could think and I fell over like a squirrel. I was pushing really hard; I knew if Chris got by, he would check out, and when I crashed and he went around, he was gone.”
McGomery settled into a race pace and pulled away.
“Once I got by Isaac, it went pretty smooth,” McGomery said, “though I still stalled it a couple of times.”
Walton tried to push back toward the leader, but a few mistakes took him down.
“I felt good on the first couple of laps,” Walton said, “but on the fourth lap, a lapper cleaned me out on the MX track, and I was done over it. I fell four times in four laps, and the heat took its toll. I was whipped.”
McGomery was glad to see the checkered flag.
“It got pretty hot,” he said. “The heat bothered me at the end. The track is great, but the next race will be rough.”
Walton held on for second, with Coakley taking third.
The 125/ 200cc B winner, Devan Byer, on the Goldfren Brake Pads/ Sunstar Chain and Sprockets/ JDPerformance-backed KTM, started a row behind the A class, but he and Husqvarna rider Jordan Strickland from the Lightweight Four-Stroke B/C class were able to edge by Walton on corrected time. These two young riders have really stepped up this season, and soon they will battling McGomery and Walton and the rest of the Pro riders.
By the time the Open A class lined up in the afternoon, it was really hot, and Chris McGomery was flying! McGomery nailed the start and blasted through the first turn, with Walton banging on his rear wheel.
“I knew Isaac would be tough,” McGomery said.
The pair wasted little time dropping Coakley behind as they battled out front.
“I was watching Chris to see where the slick spots were; when he would slide out, I would go on the other side,” Walton said.
The duo stayed together for the whole lap, and on the second lap they both turned it up.
“Isaac was really fast on the up-and-down section before the uphill double,” McGomery said. “He almost passed me in three different turns on one lap there, squaring the turns. We banged bars after the uphill double, in the turn before the big downhill.”
Walton was trying to pressure McGomery, but he made a mistake.
“He was faster than I was in the slicker stuff,” Walton said. “I hit him one time when I tried to pass. Then I went for a new line in a turn to get by and stuffed it and fell over. When I got back up, I was just done.”
McGomery once again rolled to a convincing win.
“The track was actually slicker this afternoon,” McGomery noted. “I had to ride wider lines, looking for berms, and it was so hot – it was brutal. Still, it was a lot of fun racing with Isaac.”
This being his first race back, and with having gotten in little practice and being on a completely stock motorcycle, Isaac Walton rode great.
“It was good to get back on the track,” Walton said. “I was hoping to try to get Chris on the MX part of the course, but he was riding too good.”
The final two-wheeled race of the day was 60 minutes of all-out action, with intense battles all over the track. Dalton Vecchiarelli was fast off the line in the 16-24 class on the Moose Racing-backed KTM.
“I got a good jump on the start and made one pass,” Vecchiarelli said. “Then I just tried to build a lead.”
He checked out on the rest of the class, but his race would eventually be with Devan Byer, who’d started 41 seconds behind him, in the Schoolboy Two class. Byer was just a few ticks faster than Vecchiarelli, and throughout the race he methodically reeled in Vecchiarelli – but it was not easy.
“It was really, really hot,” Byer said. “I started to overheat and had to pace myself to where I could barely breathe.”
As the riders took the white flag, Vecchiarelli was leading, but the overall was up for grabs.
“I was checking to see where Byer was,” Vecchiarelli recounted, “and on the last lap, I made a mistake and fell over.”
Byer was still struggling, but he went all out on the last lap.
“I chugged down some water and had enough energy to push on the last lap,” Byer said. “I didn’t have anything left at the end.”
But Byer’s last push gave him the overall win by 17.5 seconds.
The Over 40 class was a heads-up battle between Keith Gwinn and Joe Evener. The duo first banged bars in 1994, and they always seem to end together when they race.
Evener, who was the winner in the Open class in the morning, grabbed the holeshot on the Wheelsports/ Mark Hyde-supported KTM, with his longtime rival Gwinn stalking him. Gwinn tried to make a move as they went into the woods, but Evener slammed the door on him, and the race was on!
Evener has been a top rider in Ohio for more than 20 years, and he was comfortable out front.
“I got a good start and led Keith for three laps,” Evener reported. “Then I made a couple of mistakes.”
Gwinn had been checking out new lines while he ran in second.
“The corners were slick, so I was going outside and then cutting back across to try to save energy, because it was so hot,” Gwinn sais.
When Evener bobbled, Gwinn was right there. As the riders went up the short chute out of the woods and onto the MX track, Gwinn squared the turn on his Athens Sport Cycles Yamaha and tried to dive under Evener in the off-camber 180. Evener held it on, though, and held off Gwinn as they headed toward the left-hander at the bottom of another short straight. Once again, Gwinn cut inside, and this time Evener couldn’t brake hard enough to block the line, and Gwinn slipped by. The race was far from over, though.
“When Keith got by, I started trying too hard and made a lot of mistakes,” Evener admitted. “I fell a bunch, and one time I knocked both of us down. On the turn after the uphill double, I fell and took us both down; we slid down the big downhill, and luckily our bikes didn’t high-side us. I slid for about 20 feet. Then we got up and weren’t hurt, so we got going again.”
“Me and Joe get along pretty good, so that makes it fun, and we have a good time racing each other,” Gwinn said afterward.
Gwinn went on to take the win, with Evener in second.
“I was just a few ticks off Keith’s pace there at the end, but it was a good day to race,” Evener said. “My son Taylor got his first win ever today. He broke both of his femurs in 2009, so he hasn’t ridden much, but he is getting back into it, and I am really proud of him. It’s great to be racing more now.”
Over 50 winner Jeff Miller couldn’t catch up to Gwinn and Evener, but he came close, finishing fifth overall, behind Evener, on the Pro-Tune Suspension/ JM Cycles/ MX Graphics Yamaha.
“I wouldn’t have been here without the help of Mark Cales,” Miller said. “He brought me here, paid my entry fee, and got everything ready. It went pretty good. The track was a little slick, so I tried to use good lines and keep the wheels hooked up.”
When told he now had another winning streak going, Miller laughed: “It’s a pretty weak winning streak – two in a row – but it has been a good day.”
Matt Pierce is one of the fastest ATV riders in the tri-state region, and fans were hoping for a race between Pierce and Cole Shifflet. Though Shifflet is very talented, like many riders in Ohio, he’s found it hard to find sponsorship and support, so when his race bike had a motor problem at the last race, he had to wheel out his practice bike to take on Pierce’s GThunder/ Outdoor Adventures/ Fast Traxx Racing-backed Yamaha.
Pierce blasted off the start and into the first turn, and he hammered the throttle! Shifflet was next to last off of the start, but he carved his way up through the field. By the end of lap one, Pierce led by 10 seconds over Shifflet, who could finally see Pierce. Shifflet was riding WFO as he tried to gain on Pierce, but Matt continued to increase his lead.
“It’s a great track, short but good, and I just tried to ride as hard as I could,” said Pierce.
By the halfway point, Shifflet knew he wasn’t going to catch Pierce.
“I kept looking for him,” Shifflet said, “but after a while, I couldn’t see him anymore.”
A race-ready ATV takes thousands of dollars of suspension mods to handle the punishing speeds and impacts from riders like Pierce and Shifflet, and Shifflet’s stock Yamaha was pounding him, so he had to settle for second.
“The track and conditions were great – just a little hot today,” Shifflet said.
Pierce was happy with the win, but he was glad it was over.
“Hot – very hot,” Pierce said. “It was a fun race – except for the heat.”
The next event at Actions Sports will be a Grand Prix on Saturday, September 21, 2013. Call 740/594-MOTO (6686) or go to actionsportsracing.com for more information.
Action Sports Moto Park
Results: July 14, 2013 (Round 4)
50 (4-6): 1. Dakota Cunningham (KTM).
50 (7-8): 1. Joseph Cunningham (KTM); 2. Blaceton Moore (KTM); 3. Xavier Mohney (KTM); 4. Kenton Brown (KTM); 5. Carter Fouts (KTM).
65 (7-11): 1. Timmy Harris (KTM); 2. Todd Fouts (Suz); 3. Blaceton Moore (Kaw); 4. Joseph Cunningham (KTM); 5. Chase Ingalls (Kaw).
85 NOV (7-15): 1. Samuel Parsons (Yam); 2. Bryce Richards (Yam).
85 (7-11): 1. Stevie Osborne (KTM).
85 (12-15): 1. Ryan Richards (Yam); 2. Aaron Magdich (KTM).
SUPERMINI (12-16): 1. Zach Dewhurst (Yam).
125/200 B: 1. Devan Byer (KTM).
250 B: 1. Jordan Strickland (Hsq); 2. Jake Walters (KTM); 3. Kyle Strickland (KTM); 4. Shade Huntley (Yam); 5. Dalton Vecchiarelli (KTM).
LIGHTWEIGHT NOV: 1. Andrew Martin (Hon); 2. Jacob Walburn (KTM); 3. Michael Nutter (KTM); 4. Isaiah Andrews (Yam); 5. Adam Preston (Yam).
LIGHTWEIGHT A: 1. Chris McGomery (Yam); 2. Isaac Walton (KTM); 3. Judson Coakley (Hon).
HEAVYWEIGHT NOV: 1. Taylor Evener (Hon); 2. Michael Nutter (KTM); 3. Bobby Christman (Yam); 4. Jeff Eveland (KTM); 5. Scott Strickland (Hsq).
HEAVYWEIGHT B: 1. Isaac Parsons (Yam); 2. Steve Osborne (Kaw).
4-STROKE LIGHTWEIGHT B/C: 1. Jordan Strickland (Hsq); 2. Jason Hickle (Yam).
4-STROKE HEAVYWEIGHT B: 1. Josh Verity (Yam); 2. Chad Ingalls (Suz); 3. Jonathan Mullins (Yam); 4. Isaac Parsons (Yam).
OPEN: 1. Joe Evener (KTM); 2. Andy Chapman (KTM); 3. Keith Gwinn (Yam); 4. Chas Patton (Yam); 5. Taylor Evener (Hon).
OPEN A: 1. Chris McGomery (Yam); 2. Isaac Walton (KTM); 3. Judson Coakley (Hon).
WOMEN: 1. Elizabeth Allen (Hsq).
SCHOOLBOY 1: 1. Anthony Dinunzio (Hon).
SCHOOLBOY 2: 1. Devan Byer (KTM).
16-24: 1. Dalton Vecchiarelli (KTM); 2. Seth James (Kaw).
25+: 1. Jacob Walburn (KTM); 2. Brent Cochran (Hon); 3. Albert Brooks (KTM).
30+: 1. Kirk Allen (Hsq); 2. Josh Eagle (Hon); 3. Brad Burt (KTM); 4. Chas Patton (Yam); 5. Steve Young (Hsq).
40+: 1. Keith Gwinn (Yam); 2. Joe Evener (KTM); 3. Mark Cales (KTM); 4. Mike Freas (Hon); 5. Mark Abdella (KTM).
50+: 1. Jeff Miller (Yam); 2. Andy Chapman (Yam); 3. Richard Lanning (KTM); 4. Mike Allen (Hsq); 5. Mark Kaho (Yam).
GOLDEN MASTERS 58+: 1. Rick Oxley (KTM); 2. Tom Parfitt (Yam).
DECADE: 1. Mike Freas (Hon); 2. Mark Kaho (Hsq); 3. Jason Andrews (Yam); 4. Eric Wallace (Hon); 5. Marty Molihan (ATK).
POST-VINTAGE: 1. Eric Steinberg (Suz).
ATV YOUTH PRODUCTION: 1. Connor Conkel (Hon).
ATV UTILITY: 1. Jesse James (Kaw); 2. Terry James (C-A).
ATV PRO: 1. Matt Pierce (Yam); 2. Cole Shifflet (Yam).
ATV B: 1. Tyler Miller (Yam); 2. Colton Longstreth (Yam); 3. Josh Osborne (Yam).
ATV C: 1. Brandon Thompson (Yam); 2. Jordan Fizer (Yam); 3. Thomas Spencer (Suz); 4. Chase Glenaman (Kaw); 5. Larry Gilbraith (Kaw).
ATV VET (40+): 1. Mike Charlton (Yam); 2. Rick Baker (Hon); 3. Tim Lutz (Yam).