“I feel really excited about it. I hope I take it home,” said Am-Pro FMF Yamaha’s Barry Hawk, an eight-time GNCC Champion who will compete for the bike purse. “I think it’s been a long time coming. It’s great for MotorcycleUSA.com to step up and do it. Hopefully it will bring in more money for the future for the sport and for the riders. Everyone in general benefits from it.”
The Snowshoe GNCC is the roughest race of the 13-stop series. GNCC officials have created a brand-new 20-mile course, featuring deep mud bogs, massive bolders and near-vertical hill climbs. In fact, a special 1000-foot climb on a powerline road seperates the riders from their pit areas on each lap. The race is the ultimate test for a cross-country racer and by the end of the race, whoever does win, deserves the $10,000 prize waiting for them. Besides that, racers view the largest purse in the 30-year history of the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series as a sign that the sport is growing and that hefty purses like this will be seen more often.
“It’s exciting,” said Houser Racing’s Bryan Cook, who took the ATV victory at Steele Creek earlier in the year. “The sport keeps growing and it’s a thing of the future maybe. I’m excited about it myself. It would be really nice to win it, you know being a privateer. It would pay a lot of expenses for me.”
And while some want a chance at the payout, others are just concentrating on a win to build points for the championship. The bike battle is perhaps the closest in the history of the tour, as just a handful of points separates FMF Makita Suzuki’s Josh Strang and GEICO/JG Racing Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Paul Whibley, with Charlie Mullins and Jimmy Jarrett, their respective teammates, right behind them.
“I’m not too interested in the money,” says Strang , who has held the points lead on two different occasions this year . “It’s a bonus if I win it. The big picture is the GNCC Championship.”
For ATVs, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Chris Borich is leading the march, winning the last three rounds in a row, and five for the season. Borich holds a 23-point lead over Yamaha’s Taylor Kiser and 11 more on KTM Adam McGill. A bad run on the rough Snowshoe course could ruin Borich’s championship run.
“I’m just trying to stay clear of all the mayhem,” says Kiser, second in the ATV points and the winner of the season-opener in Florida. “That’ s my goal. I’m not too worried about it. I’m taking it as another race. I’m going to try to put the $10,000 out of mind. It would be nice, but it’s better if I try not to think about it too much.”
“I think it’s pretty cool they’re going to give out so much,” said Mullins, third in bike points and also a race winner this year. “I think it will make everyone step up and put the pace faster. I’m just going out and stick to what I have been doing. I’m more concerned with the championship than the purse.”
With the championship still up for grabs, and a rough track on the horizon, riders will have to be careful with their strategy.
For added drama, with all the money on the line, one never knows who might show up to race. There’s even a rumor that 2007 and 2008 GNCC Champion David Knight might make a return appearance. Knight is undefeated at Snowshoe. Last year, he battled Yamaha’s Thad Duvall, and Thad, despite riding a 250F in the XC2 class, almost beat him outright for the overall.
“I kind of hope he does show up,” says DuVall, who now competes on a 450 in the XC1 class. “I didn’t get to beat him last year so now’s my chance! This is definitely one to win. It’s in my home state of West Virginia and I have a lot of friends and family coming out and I feel pretty comfortable. Hopefully I’ll be able to put on a good show.”
Ticket prices for the event are just $15 for the full race weekend, including ATV racing all day on Saturday and bike racing on Sunday. In all, up to 1500 riders are expected to compete. Children five and under are free, as is full access to the pro pits and pro rider autographs. Also, Snowshoe will keep its ski lift chairs operating all weekend to shuttle fans down to the more spectacular parts of the course.
Snowshoe Resort is West Virginia’s largest ski resort, and also offers mountain biking and golf in the summer months. The event offers riders a once-a-year opportunity to race around a resort, with hotels and restaurants all within site of the track. The event will even start right in the middle of the ski village. For more information on Snowshoe, visit www.snowshoemtn.com
For more information on the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, visit www.gnccracing.com.
About GNCC Racing
The Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series is America's premier off-road racing series. Founded in 1973, the 13-round championship is produced exclusively by Racer Productions. Cross country racing is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. The grueling three-hour GNCC races lead as many as 1,800 riders through tracks ranging in length from eight to 12 miles, competing for more than $3 million in prizes. With varied terrain, including hills, woods, mud, dirt, rocks and motocross sections, GNCC events are tests of both survival and speed. For more information, please visit www.gnccracing.com.
About Racer Productions
A West Virginia-based motorcycle and ATV event production company, Racer Productions has been a leader in the off-road racing industry for more than 30 years. It's repertoire of facilities and events includes the 13-round Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series, since 1973; professional and amateur national events at High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, Pennsylvania, since 1977; and professional and amateur ATV events at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. For more information, please visit www.racerproductions.com.