Race Recap - Fall Series #1 - Canyon
First race of the Fall 2022 Series - 9-25-22 at Canyon
Talk about a “hot lap” … they were all hot! The start of the AZOT Fall Series sure felt more like summer in the Valley! But that didn’t stop 29 tough guys from showing up to race … and two of them even double classed. After finishing his AZOT Expert class in Race 7, Troy Lang returned to the gate for Race 9 in the Vet Intermediate class. Ditto for Rick Arnold – ran the AZOT Master class in Race 7, then Vet Open in Race 19. And they both had faced tough competition in their prior AZOT races.
Luckily we got early races so the first AZOT race started at 10 am before the temp soared to over 100 degrees. We’ll have some photos of starts and a few of the racing battles – will be posted on Media section when available. Our new Race Director, Austin Stewart was observing to help him and his Race Committee with assessments in classes.
1st Moto - RACE 4 had 12 Intermediate (4 new members**) and 9 Novice (1 new member**) on the gate.
Intermediates were packed together heading down the hill for the first turn, led by Travis Nelson #111v, Terry Kennedy #25, John Afshar #405**, Mark McGinnis #675 and TR Smith #911 in the lead out of the gate. Kennedy got out in front and kept the lead, but with Nelson, Afshar, then Speichert #219** and Mc Ginnis in a close-chasing group. William Stevens #860** and Brian Perry Sr. #300 switched places as Perry pushed hard trying to regain his typical lead position. Tim Kennedy #251 and Smith were within a couple of bike lengths of each other during the race, with Craig Chaney #37**, David Brown#114 and Jim Somerville #51j getting comfortable with a few changes to the traditional Canyon track. Nelson, Afshar and Speichert made it a tight trio the entire race, with some exciting partnered jumps and turns. Checkered flag saw Kennedy well out front, followed by Nelson, Speichert, Afshar, Perry, McGinnis, Stevens, “Dad” Kennedy, Smith, Chaney, Brown and Somerville in points order for Moto 1. Great to see Brown back to racing after some challenging injuries – gotta have his hands working well to manage our AZOT website! Looks like long drives to the track don’t deter these guys – some came from Las Vegas, Safford, Camp Verde and Tucson!
Second gate drop, for the nine Novice racers who shot out of the gate with new member Scott Mcbrien #679**, Drew Castro #433, Steve Richardson #27 and Richard Levy #0 all pushing to get into 1st place. Cosmic Miller #11L and Tim Rollins #222 were looking to join them at the front. Levy then jumped into 3rd spot and pushed hard trying to get the lead over Mcbrien, Castro and Rollins. Gary Kritcher #48k, John Dolan #65 and Mark Hammons #26 were tackling the track changes and new lines. Last lap it was Levy, Rollins, Castro, Mcbrien, Miller, Richardson, Kritcher, Dolan and Hammons crossing the checkered flag. Good to see Mark Hammons had left his golf clubs and came back for some racing. More long drives for some of the Novice, too – from Dewey, Yuma and Overgaard. Travel? No problem.
RACE 7 – The Race 4 AZOT’ers braved the sun to cheer on the Master and Expert role models. Masters Shane Criswell #382 (yep, promoted to Master), Rick Arnold #97 (always ready) and Jayson Crotteau #23 (he’s back, good to see you Jayson) blasted out of the gate and the immediate and ongoing battle between Criswell and Arnold was on! Arnold was first out of the gate, but Criswell maxed the straights with his 450 to get in front of Arnold on his 250, and Criswell stayed in the lead. Arnold cut him no slack and had that two-stroke screaming, but Criswell’s adrenalin said “no way, not today”. What a show … five very fast laps with Criswell holding onto 1st place for the finish. Great to see Crotteau’s #23 Honda back on the track!! Ready for when more of our Masters show up.
Expert class welcomed another promoted racer, Kurk Quinn #52, looking good in his newlu earned class. He eagerly faced off with a couple of guys who put in long drives to be here – Daniel Fleming #73 from Payson and Troy Lang #61 from Tucson. Locals Alberto Toscano #312 and Donny Beavin #714 rounded out the Expert gate. Terrific to see Donny back after some tough medical challenges – can’t keep a good man down (and he’s also transport and pit crew for his son, Talon, who races Schoolboy class). Moto 1 saw a close battle between Fleming, Quinn, Lang, Beavin and Toscano. Several laps in and Lang got ahead of Quinn, and then Toscano got past Beavin. Last lap all the guys were pushing hard; finish was Lang, Quinn, Toscano, Fleming and Beavin. Impressive racing in the Expert class!! Heat? What heat? They made their own. We’ll have some photos of those close calls, too.
2nd Moto - RACE 4 saw some hard fought battles and changes in finish positions.
Intermediate was another jammed start with Nelson getting a couple of bike lengths, but quickly closed in by Perry, Afshar, Speichert, McGinnis, Stevens, Smith and Chaney. Everyone made it down the hill upright. Lap 1 it was Nelson, Perry, Speichert, Afshar, McGinnis then Smith and Stevens followed by 37. The tight pack of Nelson, Speichert, Perry and Afshar stayed close together, but next lap Nelson caught some deep ruts in a corner at the bottom track and went down, and Speichert quickly got into 1st. At the checkered it was Speichert, Afshar, Perry, McGinnis, Nelson, Stevens, Smith and Chaney. Another exciting race watching the Intermediates surviving some close encounters.
Second gate Novice had Mcbrien, Castro, Levy, Richardson and Rollins in a tight pack heading down the hill, when Levy slid past Castro for 2nd spot. Next lap it was Levy in the lead, with Mcbrien and Castro in a twin-chase, and Rollins on their back tires. Next lap saw Mcbrien and Rollins battling for position while Richardson and Kritcher were swapping places back and forth over jumps and corners. Checkered flag waved in Castro, Levy, Rollins, Mcbrien, Richardson, Kritcher and Dolan.
RACE 7 Master was another impressive battle – Arnold got the jump out of the gate into 1st and held it until the last table on the back straight where Criswell’s jump was an amazing “fly high and land long” edging out into 1st place. Crotteau was looking more like the guy we know so well but he wisely held off getting into the hard-charging duo. Criswell and Arnold were cornering, jumping and knowing the exact line they wanted to take. Heat didn’t slow them down one bit – thanks for the show, guys!!
Experts also had no intention of pacing back due to the heat. New Expert Quinn ktook a good bike length as they started down the hill, but Lang squeezed him out for the lead when they hit the track at the bottom of the hill, with Fleming and Beavin sticking right behind them. More laps of intense racing, a few switching places and it ended with Quinn pulling off a 1st, Fleming in 2nd spot, Lang in 3rd and Beavin happily getting the checkered for 4th. Another demo of skill, intensity and great show of competition.
A little after 3:00 pm – racers and their “crews” were re-hydrating, packing up and high-fiving after a terrific first race of the Fall Series. Now for the race at ACP next weekend – hopefully less of the Valley heat and the rest of the AZOT racers can make it out to the track. It was hot but if you weren’t there, you missed a top-notch racing day. See you next Saturday!!