Tiger Strank continued his amazing run of championships, taking home his seventh-career title by clinching the 2007 AMA Xtreme Hillclimb Championship. Anthony Dehart and Ryan Oosterman became first-time champs, winning the Unlimited and Pro Sport crowns respectively.
Walter “Tiger” Strank – AMA Xtreme Hillclimb Champion
Tiger Strank, of Johnstown, Pa., scored his seventh AMA Hillclimb national title by winning the Xtreme class this year aboard his Yamaha R6-based hillclimber. His six consecutive championships in two different classes are the most ever in the modern era of AMA Hillclimbing, which began after World War II.
“It was a season of ups and downs,” Strank said. “I’m used to finishing in the top two or three on that bike and I had a few results outside of that this year. It was a little tougher this year because they grandfathered 800cc pushrod twins into the class so I was racing against some big Harley-Davidsons and Triumphs. This championship has been the most satisfying of all simply because I beat all those bikes.”
Strank is becoming a modern-day dynasty in AMA Hillclimb competition. It marked his fourth straight Xtreme class (formerly called 540cc class) championship and his sixth title in a row counting his Unlimited (formerly called 800cc class) championships.
“I’m going after Earl Bowlby’s 10 championships,” Strank continued. It’s cool being one of the winningest hillclimbers out there in the history of the sport.”
The Xtreme Championship chase came down to the final round. Strank had an 11-point lead over Phil Libhart going into Oregonia. Libhart ultimately finished runner-up in the championship, six-points behind Strank.
“I rode pretty conservative in that last race,” Strank explained. “I just wanted to get a good pass up the Devil’s Staircase, because that hill can slam you to the ground if you aren’t careful. I was a little nervous after drawing the number-one run, but I clicked off a good ride and I told Bob (Shreiner), my team owner, that I knew that run was good enough for the championship. I was pretty ecstatic.”
Strank won six of the nine races in 2007. He called his run at Poags Hole in Dansville, N.Y., his most memorable moment of the season. He was the only rider to register a time on the rough hill in the first round and ended up with a winning time nearly four-seconds faster than runner-up Harold Waddell.
Strank said he plans to return to defend his Xtreme title and to go after the Unlimited crown again in 2008.
Anthony DeHart – AMA Unlimited Hillclimb Champion
Anthony DeHart, 25, of Niles, Mich., won his first AMA Hillclimb national title, earning the Unlimited Championship on a Doctor Bob Racing Yamaha R-1 based machine.
DeHart overcame starting the season riding with a broken right hand. In his very first national win at Freemansburg, in June, he had to build up his throttle grip with layers of duct tape just so he could grasp it with his broken hand. It’s been a long climb to the top for DeHart. This was his seventh season as a pro.
The Unlimited class was a great contest between DeHart, his teammate Tiger Strank and Phil Libhart. DeHart won three rounds and beat 2006 champ Strank by 10 points.
“It was a good battle all year,” said DeHart. “Tiger made me earn it. I think I was just a little more consistent and that’s what won me the championship. I won the three races and never finished worse than sixth-place - and that was at the last race.”
DeHart is hoping to return to defend his Unlimited title in 2008.
Ryan Oosterman – AMA Pro Sport Hillclimb Champion
Ryan Oosterman, of New Ipswich, N.H., will go down in history as the first champion of the newly formed AMA Pro Sport Hillclimb Championship. In his first season in the pro ranks, Oosterman rode a Kawasaki KX450F-based hillclimber he and his father Paul built.
Oosterman won five Pro Sport events en route to winning the championship. His first national win came at the second round in Jefferson, Pa., in June.
“It was awesome to win my first pro title in my first year racing as a pro,” said Oosterman, who has been racing amateur hillclimb since 2000. “We had five wins and the rest were second places. It was a really successful season.”
Oosterman won the championship by a commanding 44-points over Jason Storms.
“After finishing second a couple of times in a row we made some improvements to the bike mid-season,” Oosterman said. “We spent a lot of late nights working on the bike and testing it on the dyno and it paid off. We sort of came back and dominated after that.”
Oosterman, 19, is an electrician apprentice by trade. He plans on coming back to race a Kawasaki ZX-6-based machine in the Xtreme class next year.