Race Recap - Spring Series #1 - Canyon
Canyon on Sunday, January 9:
Total of 27 racers: 4 Master, 6 Expert, 10 Intermediate and 7 Novice.
It was an exciting, competitive launch of the Spring Series. The typical 8th practice for AZOT gave riders a close-up view of Mother Nature’s gift – a pond created by the welcomed rain. It meant they had to cut back on the long sand section at the bottom, resulting in a slightly faster lap time for all. They did a great job of prepping the track after all of the rain and inevitable mud.
It was disappointing to find David Kennedy as a spectator sporting a sling! He got a serious shoulder / clavicle injury from a crash at a practice session a few days ago. Unfortunately, in the first lap of practice he saw his Dad, Dave Kennedy, fly over the jump in the back straight and take a very hard tuck-and-roll landing. Rib and hip injuries sent them home early. Hope to hear that Dave is soon doing better.
Maybe it’s a David / Goliath (the track) scenario … yet another David … our David Brown, was missing in action. He was not there to lead the Novice guys due to a broken clavicle and rib injuries in a crash a few weeks ago at our Motoland Sponsorship event. We hear he’s feeling better after surgery and mending nicely.
Hope we haven’t missed anyone, that’s way too many injuries already. Happy to hear all are doing better and will be back on their bikes when they’re healed and ready. Now to the racing ….
Race 4 saw the 10 Intermediates led by Kurk Quinn #52, Austin Stewart #78, Brian Perry Sr #300 and Jim Somerville #51j jammed together as first ones to hit the downhill corner. Newly promoted Brian Perry Sr. showed the skill and speed that earned him the promotion into Intermediate. It looked like a flapping blanket race of the leaders, with Travis Nelson #111 also pushing to the front and working his way into 2nd for the first moto. Austin Stewart clearly showed expert racing abilities so he moved to the Expert class and got his gear back on for Race 8 – and did very well.
In the second moto it was again Kurt Quinn and Brian Perry Sr first to the downhill corner, with Darren Kennen #22 right beside them. On the way downhill, Brian Perry Sr. blasted into the lead, sending a dirt shower behind him. Jim Somerville and Travis Nelson again became front runners. Glad to see Steve Somerville #41s return for his second race with AZOT after his intro to the club last December. Our biggest class of Intermediates never fails to keep heads turning to catch all the action. Ages range from 40’s to 70’s – bet you can’t guess what age tag belongs to which bike when you see them flying around the track and in the air. Great example for our youngsters!!
The 2nd gate of 7 Novice welcomed new member Richard levy #00 for his first race. He didn’t hold back – posting solid 4 – 4’s and holding off Gary Kritcher #48k for several laps, making his presence known. First moto saw Ron Ryer #357 and Mike Faso #514 blasting out for 1st and 2nd place, a very close battle the entire race. Mike pushed Ron at every corner and jump, forcing Ron to pull out his A game for this match to stay in 1st place. In second moto it was again Ron in the lead, Gary right behind him, and Michael Corral decided to be the nipping dog at Gary’s heals. Ron and Gary were side by side across jumps and some tight corners, but Ron managed to get his 1 – 1 finish. Mark Hammons took a reprieve from giving golf lessons to take the long drive from Yuma for the race.
Race 8 had a one-gate start of 4 Masters and 6 Experts – a great opportunity for the fastest of the Experts to challenge themselves chasing Masters. As expected, the Masters were the front-runners. Rick Arnold #97 shot out for the lead in Moto 1, in front of David O’riordan #310 and Tony Fuller #8 … hmmm, now there’s a familiar name for those of you who’ve followed the fast guys of motocross over the years. T-Bone was looking for some competition and found it with the AZOT Masters. With Brian Sharp in the mix, it was total excitement until the checkered flag that ended with a Rick, Tony, David, Brian finish. Second moto had Tony Fuller determined to get in the lead, but Rick Arnold was at the top of his game, again starting and ending in first place, holding Tony off. With David O’riordan in the chase for Tony’s spot, all three showed us some amazing handling and jumps. These guys lived up to the title of Master – and age is definitely not limiting skill! Watching the Supercross Saturday night was exciting, but watching our own friends put on such a show was just as thrilling…and in person! Way to go, guys!!
The 6 Experts did not play second fiddle to the Masters. With all six Experts on the start gate with the Masters, the heat was turned up for this fast, highly skilled bunch. Shane Criswell #382 was again in top form and put the pressure on. Brian Perry Jr. #14 celebrated his promotion to Expert by taking 1st and holding off Shane in the first moto - in question right up to the finish. Then second moto saw Shane come back even stronger and take first, with Brian Perry Jr. right on his heels for a 2nd. Austin Stewart showed such dominance in Race 4 with the Intermediates, he was back on the line in Race 8 as the newest Expert … and he did not disappoint! He came in third in both motos, beating out some of our really good Experts with his amazing cornering. Joining the Expert competition was the dynamic duo of Darren Sebastiani #526 and Jeff Neil #40 (plenty of recent wheel-to-wheel battles between those two). Also a big “welcome back” to Daniel Fleming #73 who drove down from Payson to rejoin his Oldtimer friends. The Experts are such a fun class to watch, not only superb racers, but also some entertaining personalities.
What a day of racing – from the first gate drop to the last checkered flag. You could feel the excitement – but nothing like what these amazing guys were feeling – from the 40’s to the 60’s, and you couldn’t tell age differences with this group. Looking forward to having our 30’s Masters on the line to add even more pressure – hopefully family commitments are taken care of and we’ll see them next race.
Can’t miss a big shout out to our Iron Men who double (and triple) class! They don’t go for easy competition either. Brian Sharp, the proverbial triple or even quadruple guy, also raced Vet Master and Vet Open; Austin Stewart also ran Vet Intermediate, and Rick Arnold picked the Vet Pro for his challenge.
We’ll be saying “so long” to Tom Franz as he prepares to move to New York state in the next few weeks. After years of AZ sunshine and some legacy racing, track prep and operations at Canyon, Tom’s going to get his reward of snow and cold weather. Good luck and thanks for the memories, Tom!!!
Check out Page 34 in the year-end issue of Arizona Extreme Motorsports to see pictures of a big event for a couple of AZOT’ers that took place on October 23. What a special day!!
Apologies for pictures only of Race 4 and some of lesser quality. Just a long story - not ignoring the Masters and Experts. At least we were able to get some shots from the video. We’ll do better next race.
After a day of racing, we enjoyed Mike and Kat’s unending hospitality and some fun bench racing. We chowed down on hot dogs, potato salad, cowboy beans and cookies. A giant “thank you” to Mike and Kat for all of the time and hard work they continue do to make the AZOT club a welcoming and inclusive group. Remember, the call-out of food after racing means everyone is welcome! Come on over and bring your appetites. We’re continuing to grow in number of members and participation in racing and events. More to come in 2022.