More Race Reports from NHHA Round 8

| 29 September 2014 4:01 pm

NHHA National Hare and Hound Association
Round 8: Silver State Trailblazers

By Ben Meza, Harry Lyles and Sam Bangert
Photos by Mark Kariya and Michael Knight
Courtesy of Blais Racing Services
PANACA, NV, AUG. 23, 2014

Race Report by Harry Lyles, 250cc A
I was so stoked to go racing this weekend for three reasons: I hadn’t raced since the Idaho City ISDE Qualifier; I hadn’t raced a National Hare and Hound in almost two years; and, finally, because I heard nothing but epic things about the riding in Panaca!

My Pops and I jammed out of Apple Valley, California, on Friday morning and got to the pits in Panaca around noon. Immediately, I was impressed with the facilities of the pits. All the deserts races I’ve ever done have taken place in the middle of the desert, so it was a refreshing change that we were pitting in the rodeo grounds.

Harry Lyles at sign-up for NHHA round eight. Photo by Mark Kariya

Harry Lyles at sign-up for NHHA round eight. Photo by Mark Kariya

I was so stoked to ride and anticipated to shred some Nevada wet dirt from the previous rains all week, so my teammate Ben [Meza] and I geared up and pinned it to the hills, only to find loose, rocky, dry dirt. It was kind of a letdown until we found our other teammates Brendan [Crow] and Sammy [Bangert], as well as Ricky Brabec and Max Eddy Jr., shredding this amazing sand track. I burned a few laps on it and headed back to the pits to tune my jetting. Chris [Blais] and my dad dialed me in, as well as the rest of the boys. We then headed out for another session on the sand track, and I ended up riding for a while because the track was way too fun. I called it a little earlier than I wanted to because I didn’t want to get tired for the race the next day.

Since we couldn’t practice the bomb, Brendan, Ben, Ricky and myself headed over to the start to check it out. I found a good line, and we proceeded back to the pits for the autograph signing. The club had made an amazing spaghetti dinner, and I inhaled it while I signed posters for the kiddies.

That night we had a team meeting, and we all received some extremely valuable advice from Chris and Quinn Cody that I carried with me for the next day.

I was pumped that the race started at 11 a.m. because that meant I could sleep in a little. Since the start was outside of town, we received a police escort after the riders’ meeting.

Tallon Taylor and I lined up next to each other, and we both knew it was going to be a dogfight to the good line. I had absolutely zero nerves on the line, and when the banner dropped, my Blais Racing Services machine lit up in an instant, but Tallon was right next to me, and as soon as he grabbed third gear, his Beta 498 was able to pull my 250. I stayed on him as long as I could until I took a rock to the face. I got off the trail to flight for clean air, only to find more dust. Luckily, I got to the end of the bomb safely, but nowhere where I wanted to be (around mid-30s). Guys were going everywhere! I got off the trail and blazed my own trail until it got sketchy, so I jumped behind the dust to wait patiently for the dust to tame itself.

I settled into a fast, smooth groove, and I began to pick off people left and right in the perfect, twisty, wet sand washes! I knew I wasn’t going to get gas at the alternate pit, so I gave Dean [Crown] and Mitch [Bangert] a thumbs-up and continued on my way.

Harry Lyles plunges through the mudhole! Photo by Mark Kariya

Harry Lyles plunges through the mudhole! Photo by Mark Kariya

As I jumped into the sand wash after the pit, I saw my teammate Sammy in the distance. I twisted the grip harder and was absolutely railing with my fresh Kenda Parkers! He knew I was behind him, so he picked up the pace and we were flying through the Nevada desert! We jumped out of the wash and got on a dusty two-track road. So I got right on his wheel, because with the dust, I knew it was going to be impossible to pass him. I was surfing for lines and he was roosting the crap out of me, and it was awesome, pure racing. He took a wide line, and I dove under and pinned it, knowing he’d want to get me back since we’re really good friends.

I came into the pits in 25th overall, and I was feeling good. The boys gave me a quick pit and I was on my way again. Once again, I was starting to see trickles of dust, and I got into some more battles. We got into a tree section that was right up my alley, so I started to push really hard. I ended up catching my teammate Brendan in a rocky canyon, and I put a clean pass on him in a rock garden. I continued to charge and passed a few more guys along the way.

About halfway through the second loop, I was starting to fight my bike really bad. After the race, I discovered that both fork seals were blown, but at the time I had no clue, so I cruised at a safe pace, because I didn’t want to throw away a good race.

I came across the finish 16th overall and fifth place 250cc A. I was so pumped I was able to finish in the top 20, even with a horrible start. It gave me so much confidence that the only person to pass me all day was Jake Argubright, after he fixed his mechanical issues. Hopefully I can carry this momentum and finish in the top 15 at the next National Hare and Hound in Yerington, Nevada!

I have so many people to thank, but first and foremost I want to thank my dad for being my biggest supporter! I wouldn’t be out there shredding and having fun racing with my off-road family if it weren’t for him. Thanks to Chris and Patti [Blais] for being the best team managers, Bundy for the quick pit, Don Meza, Dean Crown, and Mitch Bangert for the pit support, Coach and the Silver State Trail Blazers for putting on an incredible event, and John Miller for helping me with my mousse bibs!

A special thanks goes to all the volunteers that made this event possible and to all of my amazing sponsors: Blais Racing, Fasst Co., Race Tech, ESR Suspension, Troy Lee Designs, Muscle Milk, Cytomax, VonZipper, Dirt Tricks, No Toil, Kenda, and FMF – thank you! See you at the races!

Race Report by Ben Meza, 250cc A
A summer filled with nothing but motocross had me more than ready to get back to some desert racing! Motocross is fun and everything, but I was really looking forward to some long-distance, endurance-style racing. With a fresh Blais Racing motor and my favorite place on earth to ride, this weekend was setting up to be awesome!

I headed out to Panaca, Nevada, with my teammate Brendan [Crow] in his sprinter van. We reached Panaca early that afternoon and quickly got to work dialing in our jetting. After a couple hours, my FMF/ Blais Racing KTM was feeling perfect! After that, I cruised over to the bomb run to find a good line. After walking the bomb run, we went back into town for some dinner and [signing] autographs for the locals.

Brendan Crow, Ben Meza, Sam Bangert and Harry Lyles at the NHHA round-eight poster signing. Photo by Mark Kariya

Brendan Crow, Ben Meza, Sam Bangert and Harry Lyles at the NHHA round-eight poster signing. Photo by Mark Kariya

Ben Meza rolling through the pits. Photo by Michael Knight

Ben Meza rolling through the pits. Photo by Michael Knight

Race morning came around rather quickly, and this particular race didn’t have a start time until 11 a.m. We sat around, waiting, for what seemed forever. I wasn’t feeling that great – a little nervous, I presume – but I managed to get down some fruit and a pouch of my favorite Cytomax Energy Drops. Now it was time to go race! I was geared up and ready to go. I was confident with my bomb-run line and couldn’t wait to get started.

As soon as the banner dropped, my Kenda Millville 2 rear tire catapulted me off the line and pulled me right up to the front of the pack. Going through the banners at the end of the bomb, I was sitting right in the top 10! I was sitting right behind Ryan Smith and wanted to make a quick pass. I was right behind him the whole first loop but couldn’t make anything happen. The first loop was ridiculously awesome – nothing but wet sand washes and twisty trails through the trees! I loved it! The SSTB (the hosting club) did an awesome job!

I came into the pits running ninth overall, sitting third place 250cc A. I knew what I had to do to get a win, and I was feeling fresh and ready to make it happen. Bundy Inc. and the rest of the Blais Crew gave me a quick pit and then I was on my way.

The second loop, however, didn’t go like I had planned at all. I suffered a freak mechanical problem only a few miles into the 42-mile loop. I had to limp the bike along, trying to ride it as fast as possible without causing a DNF. I managed to keep my bike going to finish a respectable 15th overall. A top-15 is awesome for my consistency, but I could have done a lot better. I am very excited with how I was doing up to that point and knowing I have the speed and fitness for a top-10.

Ben Meza at speed in Panaca! Photo by Michael Knight

Ben Meza at speed in Panaca! Photo by Michael Knight

I want to congratulate my teammates Skyler [Howes] and Brendan for both having awesome rides. Skyler got a career-best second overall, while Brendan clinched the Heavyweight A championship! I’m stoked for both of you.

I want to thank all my sponsors for everything they do: Blais Racing Services, Fasst Co., ESR Suspension, Race Tech, Fastway, Troy Lee Designs, HBD Motografx, Cytomax, KTM, FMF, BRP, Dirt Tricks, Muscle Milk, Alpinestars, A’ME, IMS, Kenda, Scott Goggles, Scott’s Stabilizers, my girlfriend and her whole family, my family, HBMC, and I couldn’t do anything without the Lord behind me. Thanks, and I’ll see you all out at the races!

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Race Report by Sam Bangert, 200cc A
For round eight of the National Hare and Hound Series, we would make our way Friday morning up to beautiful Panaca, Nevada. We unloaded the truck and started the long afternoon of testing and getting the bike dialed for Saturday. We changed some things in the carburetor, and with the modifications, my bike was running prime!

Friday night, we had the poster signing and spaghetti feast. I had some good conversations with all the riders and Silver States Trail Blazers’ Zack and Coach, who, by the way, are two of the best people you’ll ever meet!

That night we had a team meeting and watched a sweet lightning storm. I had my cot out under the stars, but when Ricky [Brabec] and the crew showed back up, I decided to put my cot under their canopy in case it rained.

I got a good night’s sleep but then woke up early to the sound of Fasst Co.’s Cole Townsend warming up his son’s 50cc. I got up and headed over to the kids’ race to watch the little kids rip.

Waiting for the 11 o’clock starts always makes me more nervous ; it just seems like fooorreevverr and my mind starts thinking about random stuff. I am going to have to a work on getting myself mentally prepared for 11 o’clock starts.

Sam Bangert ripping on his Blais Racing/ Fasst Co./ TLD KTM 200 XCW! Photo by Mark Kariya

Sam Bangert ripping on his Blais Racing/ Fasst Co./ TLD KTM 200 XCW! Photo by Mark Kariya

This was my first race back since my helicopter ride, and I was physically ready for the challenge. We had a riders’ meeting at 10 a.m. and paraded over to the starting grounds. My dad and I talked strategy and decided to fill up at the first gas alt instead of before the banner drop, so I could get a good line. I didn’t get a very good start, so I was trying to work my way through the field. Starting way back in the field is always hard, because instead of settling into a good pace, you spend your time passing people.

The first loop was really fun – lots of flowy washes and very fast! I came through the alternate gas pit and had a great fast pit thanks to my dad and the IMS quick-fill system. My Kenda Parker DTs were hooking up great in the Panaca washes and the rest of the terrain.

Me and my teammate Harry [Lyles] had a fun battle for some of the first loop. It’s always a blast to have a fun battle with a great friend. A half-mile before the pits was a gnarly mud puddle, and about halfway through it, my front end sunk, and if it wasn’t for my Fastway stabilizer, I would have lost it, but I pulled it off.

I had a quick main pit by my mom and Bundy Inc. and off I went to the second loop.

Sam Bangert at the Silver State Trailblazers’ Hare and Hound. Photo by Mark Kariya

Sam Bangert at the Silver State Trailblazers’ Hare and Hound. Photo by Mark Kariya

The second loop was tighter than the first loop but still very flowy and very fun. A third of the way through the loop, we went through a fun and rocky canyon.

Just leaving gas alternate two, I realized there was something terribly wrong with my bike; every time I gave it gas, it would bog out and die. I kept going because I hate quitting, but I was getting nowhere fast. I pulled off the trail and checked all the things I could with the things I had, and nothing was working. The bike was done, so I sat out there under my homemade shelter and took a nap between riders. As I sat there wondering if someone was going to come get me, I started getting hungry and decided to work my way back to alt gas two. It took longer than I expected, but I made it, and my parents picked me up there.

That night, Kris Kudla gave my dad some ideas on what the problem might be, so when we got home, we checked the carburetor, and the pin had fallen because of a clip failure – once again, one of those freakish things Chris Blais is always amazed happens to me.

Even though I broke down, I had a great time. I love Panaca, and it is still and always will be my favorite place to race. I want to thank the Silver State Trail Blazers for the most bitchin’ National there is. I also want to thank all my family and friends that keep me going and give me support. I want to thank all my sponsors: Blais Racing Services, AMSOIL, Fasst Co., AME, VonZipper, Asterisk, Rad Manufacturing, Fastway, RaceTech, ESR, FMF, Samco, Eline, No Toil, IMS, Muscle Milk, Cytomax, Troy Lee Designs, the Walker family, and VCMC.

[For more from this event, please see “Race Report from NHHA Youth Round 8” by racer Cole Timboe and “Race Report from NHHA Round 8” by racer Patti Blais… Editor]

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Category: Hare and Hound, National, POV, Riders, Riders All, Riders' POV, Riders' Race Reports

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