Derby City Nationals 2020 race report
Later than LaborDay
The long-time Louisville tradition over Labor Day had to be delayed for a month or two, but thankfully, the USA BMX circuit was able to return to Derby City BMX in mid-October ...and it was well worth the wait!
Believe it or not, this was the 2nd-to-last regular-season National of the wild 'n wacky re-booted 2020 series. While most people are anxious to get rid of this crazy Covid year, it still seemed strange that the USA BMX circuit is just about completed. After this weekend, there is only Florida left, as a last-chance points booster for NAG and National standings.
With that in mind, there were plenty of riders in Louisville hot after those last-chance points, getting in their final score or attempting to throw out a bad one from earlier in the year. In the end, plenty of riders were able to bump up their status in points, while others might've gotten punted over the berm and were unable to take over NAG points.
One such rider who was in this situation was Factory Answer's P.J. O'Brien, who needed just a couple of solids in 15x to take things over in the tightly-contested 15 year old NAG standings. Currently, Virginia's Cutter Williams is leading 15 year old NAG standings, and he planned to keep it that way. With 25 up for extra rider points, wins this weekend could make or break ya.
Friday's 15x main looked as if it was all P.J.'s; but like a World of Poker champ, Cutter played his cards right and tight, and pateintly waited until the last turn to lay 'em all on teh table. Williams high-lowed O'Brien and stole away the victory ...thus, still holding onto his NAG No.1 position in points.
On Saturday, P.J. got the win in 15X - redeeming his 2nd-place finish from Friday. To get it done, he had to pull a big turn-2 swoop on Hyper's Cutter Williams; who'd holeshotted the main. Williams is about the size of a punter while P.J. is the equivalent of a linebacker, so you know who'd have the advantage in a battle of the 'bows.
15 EXPERT Results - SATURDAY
- 1 PATRICK O'BRIEN, ANSWER, EDISON, NJ
- 2 CUTTER WILLIAMS, HYPER, POTOMAC FALLS, VA
- 3 FOSTER HENDERSON, CLAYBORN/ANSWER, BIRMINGHAM, AL
- 4 ETHAN POPOVICH, MUDSLINGER BIKE SHOP, VALPARAISO, IN
- 5 MICAH BINDER, POWERLITE-DFR, YUMA, AZ
- 6 DRAKE VELADOR, PROFILE, HOLLISTER, CA
- 7 RIVER REECE, LDC, FORT WORTH, TX
- 8 DREW ENGLER, HYPER, BLUE SPRINGS, MO
On Sunday, it looked as if O'Brien would get it done again and boost himself in the lead of NAG standings ... well, that is - at least until the exit of turn two.
This time around, it was like a full reversal of the previous day - with O'Brien out front and Williams diving hard into turn two to attempt the same move that P.J. had pulled on him less than 24 hours earlier. Both racers weren't about to let off on their virtual throttles and blasted out of the deep berm side-by-side, bar-to-bar. Cutter was living up to his name, and O'Brien didn't feel like going left to hit the pro section. They hooked elbows for a split second, just enough time for both riders to explode into a fiery ball-up, handing the lead over to Cutter's Hyper teammate in the neon 6D helmet - Drew Engler.
But wait! The race isn't over ... MudSlinger's manual-king, Ethan Popovich was powering down the third straight and set up Engler for a picture-perfect high-low move in the final turn. Ethan showed his skills by making the move cleanly, then smoothly and skillfully sliced through the last-straight rhythm to score a major win. This could be the confidence booster Popovich needs in order to do it more frequently.
15 EXPERT Results - SUNDAY
- 1 ETHAN POPOVICH, MUDSLINGER's, VALPARAISO, IN
- 2 DREW ENGLER, HYPER, BLUE SPRINGS, MO
- 3 ZACK DAY, MIDWEST PULL, GREENVILLE, WI
- 4 RIVER REECE, LDC, FORT WORTH, TX
- 5 KIAN GRABINSKI, SSQUARED, SAINT JOSEPH, MN
- 6 DYLAN GASCA, DRIVEN CYCLING ACADEMY, BUCKLEY, WA
- 7 PATRICK O'BRIEN, ANSWER, EDISON, NJ
- 8 CUTTER WILLIAMS, HYPER, POTOMAC FALLS, VA
It's everybody's favorite show to binge-watch these days - and it's not even on Netflix!
The Ronnie & Cedric show held another entertaining episode in Louisville. On Friday, Cedric and Ronnie were coming out of lane one and two, with Kim on the inside. They were pretty much side-by-side down the first straight, but Cedric got an elbow in on his arch-rival, which shut down all of Kim's momentum (and nearly took Cedric out - "nice save!"). The contact dropped Ronnie back to third place into the long, wide first turn, and from there, Cade was flyin' free and stretched his lead to about half-a-straight for another big win.
...and that was just the set-up for Saturday's scene-2.
In Saturday's 14X main, Cedric did exactly what you've gotta do if you want to beat King Ronnie. With a half-a-wheel lead on him, Cedric shut him down ... HARD. It was a move-over for the centuries - more often executed by 6 and 7 year old experts; but it worked. Ronnie lost momentum ...again, and Cedric floored his virtual gas-pedal. Once out front, on a jump-infested track like Louisville, there's no catchin' the BMX Shark.
For those keeping track, the score was now: Cedric = 2. Ronnie = 0.
14 EXPERT Results - Saturday
- 1 CEDRIC CADE, BMX SHARKS, LAS VEGAS, NV
- 2 RONNIE KIM, BOX COMPONENTS, CORONA, CA
- 3 HAYDEN BOYD, BALTIMORE, MD
- 4 BANYAN HOWELL, YESS, BEND, OR
- 5 NOLAN COLBORN, THRODWN, JANESVILLE, WI
- 6 DEEGAN BROWN, TNT/SUPERCROSS, SAN JOSE, CA
- 7 COLE ISAACS, BLACK WIDOW BMX, SAINT MICHAEL, MN
- 8 COLE KOPCZYK, NO SPONSOR, ELGIN, IL
Then came Sunday. All eyes were on the first straight for these two; to see whether Ced would move over just as hard, or if Ronnie would man-handle Cade like a raging WWE wrestler. As expected, the two met together at the first jump, only this time, the Box Factory World Champ seemed to just flick Cedric off of him like a flea. You could almost hear Ronnie mutter, "Get offa me. Not gonna happen this time!"
The Assasin used his size to his advantage and just kept on powering out front while Cedric got grounded.
Final score for this weekend: Cedric = 2. Ronnie = 1.
14 EXPERT Results - Sunday
- 1 RONNIE KIM, BOX COMPONENTS, CORONA, CA
- 2 BANYAN HOWELL, YESS, BEND, OR
- 3 COLE ISAACS, BLACK WIDOW, SAINT MICHAEL, MN
- 4 NOLAN COLBORN, THRODWN, JANESVILLE, WI
- 5 COLE KOPCZYK, NO SPONSOR, ELGIN, IL
- 6 HAYDEN BOYD, BALTIMORE, MD
- 7 CEDRIC CADE, BMX SHARKS, LAS VEGAS, NV
- 8 DEEGAN BROWN, TNT/SUPERCROSS, SAN JOSE, CA
WHEW! This class is gonna be insanely fun to watch at Grands! For those at home who are keeping a close tally on this crazy 2020 season, total Win-wise it is Ronnie = 16, Cedric = 23. But if you're only looking at the races where it's been a 1-on-1 match-up, Ronnie has beaten Cade 13 times, compared to Ced beating Ronnie 17. Throughout 50 years of BMX Racing, there might not have ever been a heated rivalary as hot as this - although some might argue that Pistol Pete -vs- Crazy Ronnie might be up there on par.
With fewer rider-points available this year in 17-20X, all signs are pointing toward the No.1 Amateur title coming out of the 13X ranks. Right now, FullTilt's got half of the Top-6 standings - with Washington's Sean Day holding on to the No.1 spot with a solid 65 point lead over his 10X team mate, Eli Staton. Cole Frederick is seeded right now in the No.6 slot.
The big 13X showdown in Louisville involved not just two FullTilt team mates, but also Answer Factory's All-Around Champion, "Major" Marshall Gahrke (who by the way, is sitting No.5 in Amateur points). Since Marshall ages up right before Grands, though, this would be one of those rare match-up weekends.
**NOTE: Moving up to 14X right at Grands, Gerhke will be the rare, third cast member of the Ronnie & Cedric Show; which could be VERY interesting!
But for the most part in Louisville, the battle for the win would come down the two Full Tilt'ers. Back in the pits, these two get along OK, but don't expect them to be best buddies. Speaking with TM Jim Buchanan, he said, "I've told them if you can pass the other guy cleanly, go for it. Just, whateevr you do, don't take eachother out." The personalities of these two guys is also night and Day (pun intended). Sean is suave and debenair, and usually pretty serious. Meanwhile Cole is a half-comedian and always having a good time whether its in the pits, staging or on the track. Cole's the type of guy who make sup a new nickname for himself every other weekend. Currently, it's "Bacon Boy." (Who doesn't love bacon, right?!)
So far this year, it seems like Sean Day is unbeatable. Frederick, who has just moved up into this class, has the size, strength and skills to beat Day, is he does everything right. But this weekend, even with a larger gear, Cole just couldn't catch Sean.
Answer's Major Marshall was also feeling flustered by Day's dominance. The last time he'd met up with Cole Frederick - in Rock Hill a month or so ago, Gerhke had Cole's number. But currently, Marshall's focus has been on basketball (where he's already playing Jr Varisty as an 8th grader). In fact, Marshall had originally planned on cutting out Saturday night for a B-ball game he had on Sunday - but unhappy with his Saturday performance, he called his Coach and asked permission to stick around in Louisville for hopes of redemption. (BTW: Coach was NOT too happy about it.)
Serious Sean wound up with three more wins, and is right on target to divide his current National No.1 plate in half.
13 EXPERT Results - SATURDAY RIDER COUNT: 32
- 1 SEAN DAY, FULL TILT/RADIO, TACOMA, WA
- 2 COLE FREDERICK, FULL TILT/RADIO, NEW ULM, MN
- 3 MARSHALL GEHRKE, FACTORY ANSWER, ANTIOCH, IL
- 4 KAI LEBLANC, POWER FX SPEED CO, ST AUGUSTINE, FL
- 5 TYE YOUNG, RIVAL RACING, DENVER, NC
- 6 JUAN MANOSCA, BAY AREA BMXERS, POPAYAN
- 7 CHAYSE MRAZEK, BISHOP, TX
- 8 DEREK KLEIN, FLY ZONE, DEFOREST, WI
The PRO Show
Pro Open in Louisville was HOT. And we're not talking that cheap little mild sauce packet you get at Del Taco. We're talkin' spicy salsa hot ... like Ghost Pepper HOT!
With a max of 27 pros in attendance (including a few AA's and a few Elite Women), Supercross' Kamren Larsen - the Golden Crank 2018 Rookie Pro of the Year, showed all that he's got his eye on a No.1 Pro title in November. Kam was uncatchable on Friday and Saturday; and un-seenable on Sunday. C'mon, man - this is a 3-Day National!
PRO OPEN Results - SATURDAY
- 1 KAMREN LARSEN, SUPERCROSS, BAKERSFIELD, CA
- 2 SPENCER COLE, DK BICYCLES, PALM HARBOR, FL
- 3 JEREMY SMITH, STAY STRONG/CORSA RACEWEAR, DAYTON, OH
- 4 CARLOS ALBERTO RAMIREZ YEPES, BOGOTA
- 5 DIEGO ARBOLEDA, ANTIOQUIA
- 6 COLE TESAR, ZERONINE, HUNTERSVILLE, NC
- 7 RILEY HOUSE, TANGENT, GILBERT, AZ
- 8 JUAN NARANJO, IBAGUE
One of three DK Rookie Pro contenders - Spencer Cole, all healed up and stoked to be #backonTrack, got himself a sweet second place score. His best finish so far as a pro. Heading home with a handful of cash instead of a sling was nice for a change.
Another one of three DK Rookie Pros in 2020 - Carly Kane, was also present and without a Pro Ladies Open, her and Caitlyn Farmer weren't scared to take on the boys. Kane proceeded to impress all by just going big over the doubles into turn two; skyin' over the heads of the mid-pack A-pros and scoring enough style-points from the judges to earn her a spot in the X-Games.
Without Larsen signing up for Sunday, Corsa-StayStong's Jeremy Smith whupped up on the other pros like he's been doing all summer-long. With a ton of racing experience at USA BMX nationals this year, it'll be interesting to see how Smith fares against the Olympic-contenders who have stayed locked inside their basements all this year, lifting weights.
For those thinking 17-20X won't have enough rider-count to win one of them a big silver Cup in Tulsa, you might think again. On Saturday in 17-20X, theere were FORTY riders! The winner - and if he could do it all three days, would get a MAJOR bump in National standings with those kinda digits.
Judging by practice on Friday, it was looking like we'd have a dynamic duel between AllTow's Joseph Leto and Rift-Tangent's USAC Jr. Champ Nick Adams.
17-20 EXPERT Results - Saturday Rider Count: 40
- 1 JOSEPH LETO, ALLTOW WRECKING CREW/YESS, MYAKKA CITY, FL
- 2 DREW POLK, HYPER, AVON, IN
- 3 GONZALO RENGEL, J&R BICYCLES.COM/SPEEDCO/AVIAN, QUEVEDO
- 4 COOPER BROMLEY, LINDENWOOD UNIVERSITY, SAINT CHARLES, MO
- 5 CAMERON BRAMER, SUPERCROSS BMX, SOUTH PARK, PA
- 6 RACE LEE, FULL TILT/RADIO, DERBY, KS
- 7 NICHOLAS ADAMS, ROCKSTAR RIFT TANGENT, ORANGEVALE, CA
- 8 TRENTON MOORE, RAISE FOR ROWYN, PORT ORCHARD, WA
In the "I just got my Driver's Licence" class, racing would no doubt be hot 'n heavy! Checking out the online moto sheets to see who to watch, the Bay Area bunch brought in their Columbian brigade - which included World #5 ripper Santiago Santa. You don't get to run a "W" on your plate unless you're one of the fastest eight riders in your age, in the entire World!
But even with Santa coming to town, you'd better watch out (and better not pout) because you're going to deal with Factory Answer's Birdman - Brandon Crain, and Alpha's ragin' Cajun - Blaise Pereira.
16 EXPERT Results - Saturday
- 1 BRANDON CRAIN, FACTORY ANSWER, RIVERSIDE, CA
- 2 PETER ELIZONDO, HARO, HOUSTON, TX
- 3 TYLER HENRY, SSQUARED, NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL
- 4 BLAISE PEREIRA, ALPHA, MARRERO, LA
- 5 KYLE NORTON, RAISE FOR ROWYN, VANCOUVER, WA
- 6 SANTIAGO SANTA, BAY AREA BMXERS, MEDELLIN
- 7 BENECIO SERENI, #TNT/SUPERCROSS, NEWARK, CA
- 8 BEAUDIE TRADUP, GORDY'S BICYCLES, PHOENIX, AZ
"I’d like to add this was only the second time we’ve broken the 200 MOTOS ceiling since we’ve been back post Covid Stoppage."
"Personally, this was the best Louisville national that I have ever attended. The new Board worked hard to prepare and made sure everything was covered. From a track standpoint, this was again the best version of Derby City that I have ever personally seen. They brought back the popular double into turn 2 which made the keyboard warriors happy. The only modification that might need to be made is to add a little dirt between 2 rollers on the straight. The track had 3 totes of glue which made for a smooth and fast surface. The track is advanced for sure, but it fits what a marquee event should be."
"With only one regular-season national left after this one, the last-chance Chases for the NAG and National titles was turned up. Older expert mains in both girls, boys and cruisers was incredible!"