2017 LasVegas Nationals Race Report
It's been a proven fact since the first casino was built in this secluded desert landscape, you can NOT - whatsoever, NOT have fun when you come to 'Vegas. And for hundreds of BMX racers and their families this weekend, the FUN has just begun at the #SouthpointHotel&Casino for the 2017 Las Vegas Nationals.
The first official casino built in what we now know as Las Vegas was the Pair-o'-Dice Club in 1931, but the first on what is currently "The Strip" was the El Rancho Vegas, which opened on April 3, 1941. Over the past 70-some years, Vegas has existed for fun and pleasure. From the Rat Pack days to the HangOver movies, fun and thrills go hand and hand here.
Just six miles south of "The Strip" is the South Point Hotel and Casino - which consists of a 25-story hotel tower and 90,000 square feet convention center, located on 60 acres - off Las Vegas Boulevard. The South Point arena hosts various equestrian events year-round, as well as motocross and even jet ski races. For each type of event, they've got a pristine pile of dirt to use. For BMX, the South Point uncovers and brings in the "motosports" soil. And each year, it makes a great short-track - usually about 700 feet long. This year, Billy and Lance built up some burly turns for the boys and girls to carve up like a Halloween pumpkin. And take our word for it - they were CARVED hard.
During Friday's mains, the first and third turns played a big factor in many race outcomes. The most notable was the 19-27x final. With 29 riders, the best of the best were whittled down to what would no doubt be the main of the day.
Extreme's Robby Patterson is a short-track specialist, but on the gate with him were Answer~Rennen's dynamic duo of Justin Knapper and Dusty Hammond. From the drop of the gate, it was those three charging straight to the front. Into the first turn, elbows were blasting, as if it were an MMA fight at Cesar's Palace. Patterson 'bow-blocked Knapper, and Justin returned the move with a heavy lean on Patterson's shoulder, even nudging an elbow into Robby's ribcage. Hammond, in hot pursuit, got the best view of the battle raging right in front of him and must've been more amazed than us as they exited the first turn upright.
The race surely wasn't over from there - but could've been, as Robby shifted a virtual gear and checked out down the third straightaway. The only problem was, tho - he didn't know how much of lead he had and went into the final turn as if Knapper was nipping at his heels like a rabid dog. Patterson overcooked the corner and his Tioga back tire lost traction and spun around. All by his lonesome, Patterson spun out like a rookie Nascar driver at Daytona; as Justin Knapper breezed by him to score a hard-fought victory.
Meanwhile, the battle behind these two was just amazing to watch! J&R's Evan Steinberg had entered the first turn in fourth place, smack dab inbetween Ryan Zinzow (on his right) and a Kamakazi dive-bombing Robby Spanyard to his left. Spanyard did an amazing job of holding a tight inside line without losing too much momentum, and they came out of the turn three-abreast heading toward the monstrous step-triple.
Through the rhythm, Steinberg was looking as if he'd score a sweet third place - as Zinzow was now in his back pocket, when Patterson rear wheel broke loose and spun him out. Suddenly, the J&R ripper found himself in the two-spot - which would play a factor in J&R winning Friday's team sheet.
19-27 EXPERT - FRIDAY
- 1 JUSTIN KNAPPER, ANSWER/RENNEN, POTTSTOWN, PA
- 2 EVAN STEINBERG, J&R BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, PHOENIX, AZ
- 3 RYAN ZINZOW, THRODWN, ELKHORN, WI
- 4 ROBERT SPANYARD, DAYLIGHT, TUCSON, AZ
- 5 DUSTIN HAMMOND, ANSWER/RENNEN, STOCKTON, CA
- 6 JASON KULLMAN, RRC-SUPERCROSS-FLY, HENDERSON, NV
- 7 ZACHARY JOLICOEUR, SURPRISE, AZ
- 8 ROBERT PATTERSON, EXTREME TEAM, ROY, UT
Speaking to Robby afterward in the infield, he mentioned how he'd assumed that Knapper was on his tail, and how if he'd known he was so far out front by mimself, he would taken the alternate route down the third straight - jumping from the roller-to-tabletop, to scrub his speed into the final turn. Throughout the weekend, there were maybe only 3 or 4 riders who were taking that skillful route.
On Saturday, everyone in the packed stands anxiously awaited The Rematch; for Day 2's final round of 19-27x. While it wasn't nearly as thrilling as the first day, it was still a barn-burner.
- 1 JUSTIN KNAPPER, ANSWER/RENNEN, POTTSTOWN, PA
- 2 ROBERT PATTERSON, EXTREME TEAM, ROY, UT
- 3 AUSTIN PALASOTA, HARO/PROMAX, ST PETERS, MO
- 4 MAKIEVA HOPSON, JR BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV
- 5 ROBERT SPANYARD, DAYLIGHT, TUCSON, AZ
- 6 DYLON VAUGHN, HARO/PROMAX, TUCSON, AZ
- 7 DUSTIN HAMMOND, ANSWER/RENNEN, STOCKTON, CA
- 8 RYAN ZINZOW, THRODWN, ELKHORN, WI
...and for Pottstown's favorite racer, Knapper is now 2-for-2 for his 'Vegas vacation.
The South Point arena has become famous for short-track BMX racing, and this year's track was built with that in mind. The berms and jumps were beefed up bigger than ever, to help slow riders down into each turn. Compared to previous events, there were way fewer pile-ups than in years past and the racing was up-right and tight!
A good testament to that would be Friday's last main - filled with plenty of the living legends of our sport. While this year seems to be the Year of the Brazilian (Renato Silva) in these ranks, nobody bothered to give Eric Rupe that memo. Silva has been practically unbeatable in 2017, yet "Big Daddy" put it to the AllTow rider and held off his hard-charge to score the final win of Day 1.
46 & OVER EXPERT - FRIDAY
- 1 ERIC RUPE, WOODLAND HILLS, CA
- 2 RENATO SILVA, ALLTOW WRECKING CREW/YESS, CHATSWORTH, CA
- 3 GERRY ERICKSON, MONSTER BIKE SUPPLY, LANGLEY, BC
- 4 BRYAN MURPHY, FACTORY GOLD'S GYM, MAGNOLIA, TX
- 5 GEORGE GOODALL, SUPERCROSS, CHANDLER, AZ
- 6 LONNY LIERLEY, GUNSLINGER BICYCLES, LAS VEGAS, NV
- 7 WOODY REEVES, DANGER SNACKS, SAN GABRIEL, CA
- 8 ERIC SWEETS, HARO/PROMAX, LAS VEGAS, NV
Great to see that the 40-plus year BMXer still has some gas left in the tank.
One of many big stories here in Las Vegas was former No.1 Amateur Kevin Pauls showing up Saturday morning in a brand new Factory Formula jersey (which was next-day aired straight to the hotel). For those of you who are new to the sport, and haven't been into BMX for the past five to seven years, Formula was once a major force on the National circuit - and helped give riders such as Alise Post their start.
In case you hadn't seen the news on BMXnews.com, seeing Pauls in a Formula jersey came as a shock - especially since he had just posted up a photo of his new coat of paint on his Haro carbon frame. But he seems really stoked about the new ride and was out to make his Formula debut a good one.
17-20 OPEN - SATURDAY
- 1 KEVIN PAULS, FORMULA BMX, SIMI VALLEY, CA
- 2 JACOB HALEY, BIGTOOL, CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA
- 3 COLE BAXTER, BICYCLE OUTFITTERS, CORTEZ, CO
- 4 JACOB WILLIAMS, SANDY, UT
- 5 BRANDON RIGGS, COB/FINDLAY BULLHEAD, N LAS VEGAS, NV
- 6 ANTHONY CALAHAN, 316 RACING, SPRING VALLEY, CA
- 7 ANDREW SANCHEZ, LAS CRUCES, NM
- 8 WILLIAM DUNN, HARO/DRAGON BIKE FACTORY, WAIPAHU, HI
17-18 EXPERT - SATURDAY
- 1 KEVIN PAULS, FORMULA BMX, SIMI VALLEY, CA
- 2 NICOLAS DETERS, THRODWN, ST PETERS, MO
- 3 COLIN WHITTINGTON, US JUNIOR DEVO, CORONA, CA
- 4 DAMON VOTTA, VELOCITY BIKE CO/518 DES, MESA, AZ
- 5 JACKSON ELLIOTT, NEXT GENERATION, GRANITE BAY, CA
- 6 ANDREW ROBINSON, SOUTH JORDAN, UT
- 7 ANTHONY BUCARDO, FACTORY ALPHA, CANYON COUNTRY, CA
- 8 RACE LEE, FULL TILT BIKE CO, DERBY, KS
...and with a double for his debut, Kevin Pauls made his new sponsor proud.
Now THAT is the ol' Kevin Pauls we know and love. It looks like he's found his mojo.
if you forced the crowd to pick just one girls main that was the most intense, they'd most likely pick 14 girls. All weekend long, thus far, it's been a Desnatis -vs- Jones duel, with the Haro-Promax gal looking as if she had Leyna's number. But if you know Jones, or her dad, you know that "settling for second" is not an option. And in Saturday's final, Leyna pulled an awesome inside swoop on Maddy, heading into the first turn. It was clean and straight out of the book of Bermwarefare 101. From there, Desantis did her best to reel in the Answer~Rennen rider, but to no avail and Leyna gave an exuberant fistpump as she crossed the line for the win.
- 1 LEYNA JONES, ANSWER/RENNEN, OXNARD, CA
- 2 MADELYNN DESANTIS, HARO/PROMAX, SIMI VALLEY, CA
- 3 WILLOW FERRIO, NORCAL BMX/FLY, STOCKTON, CA
- 4 MORGAN (MONKEY) ZIMMERMAN, DFR, GRAND JUNCTION, CO
- 5 EMILY BOUER, PHANTOM DEVELOPMENT, HOWELL, NJ
- 6 AALIYAH HOLLIS, NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV
- 7 MEGAN HAYES, COB/FINDLAY BULLHEAD, HENDERSON, NV
- 8 LAUREN LOPEZ, COB/FINDLAY BULLHEAD, LAS VEGAS, NV
Now, if any spectators in the crowded red seats didn't pick 14girls as their favorite girls main, then they probably went with 15-16 girls, who swapped psoitions all over the track, threw elbows like seasoned pros and really put on a show. It was still anybody's race going into the last turn and Free Agent's Natalee Daugherty pulled the perfect high-low swoop to take things over and score the win. Hannah Miller and Brooke Grindle rode an awesome race, while our expected victor - Ashley Hayes, couldn't recover from a bad gate and got stuck in the rush hour traffic.
- 1 NATALEE DAUGHERTY, FREE AGENT-BOX, PLANO, TX
- 2 HANNAH MILLER, GORDY'S BICYCLES, DESERT HILLS, AZ
- 3 BROOKE GRINDLE, SPEEDLINE/FLY, SACRAMENTO, CA
- 4 JORDAN DUGGIE, LAKESIDE, CA
- 5 ASHLEY HAYES, RIDE CO BIKE SHOP, CO. SPRINGS, CO
- 6 RYLEIGH ROBINS, FIVE 18 DESIGNS, MESA, AZ
- 7 BAYLEE LUTTRELL, HAMILTON
- 8 DALENY VAUGHN, REDMAN/ROCKSTAR, TUCSON, AZ
- 1 JACK DAVIS, TAMWORTH, GT BIKES, NSW - AUSTRALIA
- 2 JACK (CANNONBALL) KELLY, FULL TILT BIKE CO, KEARNS, UT
- 3 CHASE WARNOCK, FACTORY FALL RISK RACING, YUMA, AZ
- 4 NICOLAS TREJO, SE RACING, LANCASTER, CA
- 5 QUINTIN KLANDERUD, HENDERSON, NV
- 6 MASON MEININGER, SM CONSULTING, PASCO, WA
- 7 JOSHUA VERON, JR BICYCLES.COM/CHASE/BOX, CARMICHAEL, CA
- 8 STEPHAN VAN STEEN, SWAT, HESPERIA, CA