NHHA National Hare and Hound Association Series
Round 4: Vikings Virgin Voyage at Johnson Valley OHV
By Skyler Howes
Photos by Mark Kariya
Courtesy of Blais Racing Services
LUCERNE VALLEY, CA, APR. 25-26, 2015
Race Report by Skyler Howes, Sixth Overall Pro
The Guard family and myself carpooled to the wonderful paradise of Lucerne Valley early Saturday morning for NHHA round four. We arrived just as the Pee Wees were taking off, and my teammate Cole [Timboe] grabbed a solid second place! After that, the Superminis took off, and Braydon Bland ripped a sweet holeshot but unfortunately had to take a DNF for the day with some mechanical issues.
We braved the crazy wind for the rest of the day at the autograph signing and all through dinner. The Bangert family let me crash in their motorhome for the night, so I got to sleep early so I could be up and ready to run the bomb first thing in the a.m.
I got to the bomb, and we had to wait for just a second for the ambulance to get there, just in case. Gary, Ivan, Ricky, Joey, myself, Dalton and more were all going for this far right side. There was multiple lines, but ultimately all was the same spot.
The banner dropped and we all got great jumps. Dalton and I banged bars for just a second until I peeled off right to follow Ivan’s line. I stayed a few feet off of Ivan to the left so I would be out of his dust and roost. As we neared the end of the bomb, his line kept hooking right and I just straight-lined it through the bushes. I wasn’t actually on any line; I just held my Blais Racing Services KTM 300 XC all the way to the stop and hoped for the best. I was pinned as we reached the banners and I crossed them first! I just got a holeshot at a California National Hare and Hound on a two-stroke! I was so pumped, but I kept my composure and rode smooth.
The first few miles had some deep sand washes, and I gotta be honest – I had a few little close calls, almost tipping over! Glad I had my Kenda tires to grip up in the Cali terrain and keep me upright and moving forward!
The coolest part about leading this race was the helicopter. I believe it was Red Tide Pictures; they were there filming for Moto 7. The heli followed me for about the first 30 miles, about 30 feet off the ground, sideways, with Wiley halfway out of the heli, filming – it was the sickest thing ever! They got way close a couple times, too; I thought they were going to hit me! Ha ha ha!
Once we started hitting the really rough stuff, with a lot of rocks and chop, Ricky was able to close right in and make a pass on me. Not three seconds later, Gary was able to do the same thing, putting me back to third.
I kept it steady, and when it would open up, I could even close back in on them or even in the supertight technical stuff. But in the choppy stuff, I just didn’t have anything for those guys. Ivan came by me, as well as Nick Burson. I was trying my best to push through, but for some reason I just couldn’t stay planted to the ground; I was getting kicked all over the place through the cross-grain valleys.
After a bit, we came to a road crossing. I slowed and went over it, and to my left I saw Dalton Shirey, pinned on his 250, jump the road and pin it across the valley. He even caught up to Nick in that same section! I was able to stay relatively close to them for the first loop thanks to my Flexx handlebars taking the abuse out.
I came into the pits and got some fresh X Brand goggles and a full tank of fuel.
Out on the second loop, there was so much more of that cross-grain and no flow trails that I lost a lot more time but could still hold my position in sixth, thanks to my Race Tech/ ESR suspension. I had a few close calls in the rocks, too, but I could always feel my Fastway System 5 steering stabilizer saving me, too.
Back into the pits for some more AMSOIL Dominator mixed fuel.
I was back out to the third and final loop, which was my favorite! I really enjoy the faster trails, and the third loop had it all. It had some really fun sand sections, too, and it gave me another wind to push hard and have fun.
I held my position in sixth overall and came to the finish. I had a great day, with pulling that holeshot and not having any major issues. I definitely have some things to work on in order to hold those fast guys’ pace the entire race!
The biggest thank-you to all of my sponsors: Blais Racing Services, Mom and Dad, Fasst Co., KTM, Rebellious Status Clothing, ESR Suspension, Race Tech, Dubya, DVS, AMSOIL, Alpinestars, Kenda, Pro Moto Billet, Fastway, FMF, Rekluse, RmorFX, TLD, BRP, Bullet Proof Designs, Asterisk, DirtTricks, REEL Cameras, IMS, No-Toil, Maxilube, X Brand Goggles, Tunex of Washington, A’ME Grips, Samco, Hot Rods, Vertex, C&J Powdercoating, BeHot, and Suzie Potts!
[Stay tuned for more from this event to be posted soon on Today’s Cycle Coverage… Editor]