The GREATEST ...and BIGGEST, Race on Planet Earth!
For the 44th Grands ever (the 24th straight held here in Tulsa), USA BMX saw an amazing 956 motos! ...a mere 44 motos shy of 1,000. Incredible turnout always makes for some Incredible racing!
Here's a glance at the up and down growth of Grands over the past 44 years:
Who would've thought that we could be looking at a 1,000-moto Grands in the very near future?!
MISSING CHAMP & CONTENDER
Coming in to Tulsa, the reigning No.1 Amateur was also the Am points leader. That'd be Minnesota's Cole Frederick. The only thing tho, is that Cole has retired from racing this summer to try on the rough 'n tumble sport of football for a change. Thus, he was a no-show in Tulsa. That could seriously make things easier on No.2 seeded Sean Day (14x), especially since No.3 ranked Nick Adams (17-20x) was also on the mend from a spree of injuries. Seems like as soon as Adams healed from one, here'd come another crash and injury to follow. Unfortunately for both Rift-Tangent and the Adams family, Quick Nick would have to sit this one out.
By the end of the Sunday, USA BMX would crown four new Amateur Champions and hand out two Team Championships - Bike Shop and Factory.
RIDER COUNTS - WHICH CLASSES to WATCH:
Within those 956 motos were plenty of stacked classes, chock full of talent and speed. Heck, even 5 & Under Novice had a whopping 77 rider count! But when it comes to the coveted National No.1 titles, rider-count matters the most. Each rider you have signed up in your class is worth two extra bonus points.
Here's how the rider counts look in the four Title classes:
Did you catch the largest class of the entire weekend?! 17-20x with an amazing 125 riders!! You win there and you just might be able to jump from the 20's of standings, to be in the hunt for National Champ.
Sunday would be a busy one for racers as well as the USA BMX staff. The fine-tuned, well-oiled moto machine would pump out 85 16th's, 229 Eighth-mains, 364 Quarters, 232 semi's to wind it down to the final 125 main events. Just the Grands alone, the gate dropped nearly 3,000 times over two days.
As it turned out, they wrapped up the 2021 season right at 11:01pm.
Kaleb McCain went out in his Cruiser quarter. The 11x quarters were packed, and Ace Laack and Jacob Thiesen also ended their weekend early. Mongoose's Mason Hayes crashed out in his 13x quarter, and Supercross' Josh White went out in his 14x quarter. Drew Engler's quest to make the 16x main ended early, as did Rocco Pestaturo and River Reece. USA Cycling National Champ Nolan Cardwell, for Rival, was on the bubble in 17-20x quarter, and crashed while goin' for the fourth place spot in the last turn.
But perhaps one of the biggest upsets of the Grands title-chase came in quarter 337; where everyone's favorite Amateur contender Cameron Bramer tangled in the first turn with Daylight's Amakye Anderson; ending their day way, waaaaaaay too soon. Bramer, who came into this weekend sitting in the No.5 spot, would now just concentrate on the Cruiser Cup.
Semi-time rolled around and top contenders kept droppin' off the battle charts. When you don't make a main, your NAG ranking could drop quite a few spots, all depending on where you sit and who else made the final. So many factors. So many ways points could work out.
One thing is for sure - Grands is a huge pressure cooker, and if you can't stand the heat - then stay out of the kitchen! Fact is - only eight riders can make it to the main, and that leaves a whooooole lotta riders with 5th in a semi or worse.
FEMALE CRUISER CHAMPIONSHIP
The title chase for Girl Cruiser was over before you knew it'd even began. First main up was 10 & Under cruiser and we had three main-makers - Danica Appenzeller, Brooke Walski and Black Widows' Jennavecia Klemz, who could take the No.1 ..."with a win, and only a win," as USA BMX CEO BA Anderson says.
Clayborn's "Crazy" Brooke Walski scored the win ... giving her enough points to wrap up the title chase right then and there. Appenzeller was right on her heels, but just could quite catch the Clayborn cruiser. This is two years in a row that the No.1 Girl Cruiser Championship has gone to the youngest age class.
MALE CRUISER CHAMPIONSHIP
You might say that it was a solid weekend for Richard Bunt and his Clayborn Bike brand. Both cruiser titles wound up going to Clayborn riders - Walski in girls and Greyson Sneed for the boys 24". ...and a good day for Metro BMX in Bakersfield, where both these riders hail from.
If points-leader Howell had taken the win, he'd automatically have the No.1 Championship. But there were three other riders, who "with a win and only a win," could also take over the points race and possibly hold on for the overall Championship. Sneed won the 8 cruiser class, holding off the likes of Jaxson Howell and Cruzzy 'da Racer - winning it from start to finish, out of lane one. With those 54 riders adding to his score, the title chase could end early for the cruiser kooks.
From here, there was only one more rider in mathematical contention, and that was Daylight's "Scooby Snacks" - Brady O'Neil in 14 cruiser. When their main popped out of the gate, O'Neil found himself mid-pack, but quickly moved into the top-3, behind Manosco and Marazek. ...and that's how they finished.
The No.1 plate was now officially Greyson Sneed's! They don't call him the "SnotRocket" for nuthin'.
AMATEUR GIRL CHAMPIONSHIP
The Girls title chase is always a hot and heated one, with practically every age class one-upping the previous one. It all began with 8girls, where three riders had a shot to take over the points lead: the "Baby Mangler" Malia Alverez, BMX Shark Zoey Lomeli, and the "Blue Cheetah" Sawyer Smith. J&R's mid-season pickup - the Baby Mangler, wound up being a great choice, as she won it from start to finish - despite pressure from Lomelli and Smith.
Alverez, for the time being, was leading for No.1 Girls.
Next up in 9 girls, we had half the gate full of title-contenders: Sequoia Gomolicke, Jemma Tollefson, Olivia Alvedrez and La Vida Loca - Vida DeVera. This one was surely going to be a barn-burner! BMX Shark Olivia Alvedrez had won the ROC two days earlier, and she was still in the winning mode on Sunday - taking it from start to finish, stretching her lead by about four bike lengths. Tollefson and DeVera were fighting hard for the two-spot, but DeVera dropped back a couple spots while Gomolicke turned it up a noth to reel in the Box rider of Tollefson.
Alvedrez, for the time being, took the lead for No.1 Girls. ...we just added a "D."
In 10 girls, the skillet heatin' up - with three girls in the gate up to take over the lead with a win: Canadian Logan Lee, Harper Vescuso and our newly crowned Girl Cruiser Champ, Brooke Walski. Coming out of lane seven, you just knew that Walski was still pumped up with adrenaline from recieving her No.1 silver Cup. But you can never count out the stokedness of the Colombians. They come to America with the dream of becoming the next Mariana Pajon, and you never count 'em out. In fact, this Mariana-hopeful is already a Mariana. Last name Pena. She took it from start to finish, with Crazy Brooke on her back tire the whole way.
Olivia Alvedrez, held on to her points lead for No.1 Girls.
11 girls lined up and it was time for the National points leader coming into this weekend - LDC's Lily Ashley, to shine. She came to Tulsa as the leader, and we'd soon find out if he could hold on to her points lead. While Diamond Lil' got a good start, she was quickly squeezed by Black Widow's Kaylie Ceraza and Alpha's Landon Burian. Last year, Burian had won the Girls Cruiser Cup, so she is no stranger to winning the Grands. Her and Ceraza battled hard, while Ashley did her best to overcome her third place deficit. Montana's Burian zipped in for another win.
The Shark's Olivia Alvedrez, was still in the points lead for the No.1 Girl Championship.
In 12 girls, half of the gate had a shot at taking over the points lead: Alpha's Annalyse Solano-nah-no, Mia Custer, Rival's Zoe Dannenberg and Presslie Gould. So far this weekend, the "Z" - Zoe Dannenberg, hadn't lost a lap all weekend and had ruled at the ROC. She snapped hard as she'd done in every race and flew straight to the lead, with Blackcrown's Custer in hot pursuit, followed by Alpha's Solano. The top three stayed in that order until the last turn, when Solano-nah-no slid out trying to make a pass into second place.
Dannenberg, in her last race for Rival Racing (she'll be on Alpha for 2022) - would now take over the points lead.
We had two girls in 13 year olds who could steal away the points lead from "The Z" - Powerlite's Lola Jonjevic and Haro's Derin Mertin. But also in this gate the non-sister Herrera's - Georgia's Sadie and Utah's Rylie. Same last names, but not related (as far as we know). This main event was loaded - with Rungaitus, Vaughn and Pingatore also in the final. Down the first straight, things got tight and a huge pile-up took down five girls, with bikes and bodies flyin' all over. For about the first 15 seconds, it looked like Jonjevic was going to score the victory and take over the lead, but Sadie Hererra pulled up alongside and the two battled it out, elbow-to-elbow, down the second straight, with Sadie taking over the lead in turn two. Lola wasn't about to give up, though, and made a sweet move in the last turn to pull up alongside Sadie and the two drag raced to the white stripe. Herrera held on, by about half a wheel!
Thanks to a whopping 49 riders in 13 girls, Lola's second place finish was still enough to boost her in to the points lead!
Next up - 14 girls, and the hotly contested re-match we'd been waiting for. At the ROC, Alden had done the unthinkable, beating the Lil' Avalanche in Tulsa. Could she do it again? Or was Danica going to turn up her turbos to 11? If either of them won, they'd take over the Girls title chase. Anderson had so much power out of the gate that she almost wheelied down the entire hill, while Alden was coming out of lane seven and had a clear shot the whole way. By the first jump, they were just about even and flying into the first turn, Answer's Avalanche had the lead with Alden in code-3 pursuit. OUt of turn one, Anderson was keepin' up the family tradition, but Alden swooped low and was on the prowl to the inside line. Danica did her best to hold off Double-A, and began to stretch her lead thru the rhythm.
And with that win, Danica Anderson was the new points leader in Girls.
This was it - 15-16 Girls. With 60 riders registered, it was the largest Girls class of them all. Three of the eight girls in the main had a shot at winning the No.1 Cup ... "with a win and only a win." Jacy Moore (100% Nutrition), Ava Corley (BMX Sharks) and last year's winner - Manuela Munoz (Bay Area BMXers) could hoist that Cup above their head if they won this; but winning this packed main would not be an easy task. Two Tangent cartel girls - Winter and Romero, were locked and loaded, ready to get their Rift on.
From Lane two, Ava Corley got the best start of her life - and much like she has done all year, grabbed a comfy holeshot by the first obstacle. Out of turn one, the BMX Shark from So Cal had a solid two bike length lead and checked out by turn two. Never lookin' back!
Ava Corley would be crowned your 2021 National No.1 Champion in Amateur Girls!
AMATEUR BOY CHAMPIONSHIP
Novices - check. Intermediates - check. Now it was time to decide who would become the 2021 National No.1 Amatuer; the most coveted Am title in the entire World! Throughout the past 44 years, we've ahd a long list of BMX Legends earn the No.1 Am plate. Many of them would go on to Pro super stardom, while others would make that accomplishment their ultimate goal and move on to other things in life.
Full Tilt Racing's Sean Day would set the number to beat, from the get-go. Answer's John Kerr's win in 7x wouldn't be enough to take over the lead. But in 8x, there were three kids who could make it happen: Jaxson Howell (Full Tilt-Radio), J&R's Grayson Novak or the newly crowned No.1 Cruiser champ Greyson Sneed (for Clayborn). From lane two, Sneed snapped out front and never looked back. The "other Grayson" - Novak, held his own in the two spot, fighting off the hard-charging Full Tilt-Radio rider of Howell.
Clayborn's Greyson Sneed, out of Metro BMX in Bakersfield, had now taken over the Amateur title-chase, with 2,837 points.
In 9x, Redman tribesman Wyatt Williams and Ssquared's Knox Perkins had a shot to take over the title. But it was J&R's "WiFi" - Wyatt Christensen, nabbin' the holeshot and leading both Williams and The Ox, who were left battling hard for second place.
Thanks to WiFi, Greyson "The Snot Rocket" Sneed still held on to the lead for No.1 Amateur. Could Sneed do what is known as a "Veltman" - and win BOTH 20" and 24" titles?! It's a feat that hasn't been done since 1988 (when NorCal'er Kenny May won both).
The 10x main was fully loaded, with any of these eight capable of winning it. But only one of the eight could take over the Amateur chase - Easton Johnson! The J&R ripper was ranked #11 Nationally last year, and was hoping to make it a single-1 black plate this season.
As the gate slammed down for the 10x main, J&R riders flew to the front, surrounded by Ssquared's Henry "Freakin'" Lenners. Johnson held the lead out of turn one and was haulin' butt, but suddenly "Freakin'" Lenners went up a gear and began to reel him in. By the end of the second straight, Lenners had taken over the freakin' lead - and stretched it out by a few bike lengths. Once Henry was gone - he was GONE!
...and that meant, "The Snot Rocket" Sneed was still in the lead!
11x was bound to be a burly main, with three of the eight in contention to take over the Amateur points lead: Hyper/Faith's Thiaan Hardie, Full Tilt'er Eli Staton and BMX Shark's recent Las Vegas resident, Kaiden Ireland. As luck would have it, the three title contenders were all lined up in lanes 1, 2 and 3 - putting even more pressure on the situation. Surely, Ireland and Staton had plans for a Hardie sandwich.
Straight to the front was Staton, from lane one - but suddenly from an outside lane, Bombshell flyer Tyler Wagoner blasted to the front, and was elbow-to-elbow with Eli as they flew out of turn one. But Staton hit his virtual nitrous oxide boosters and began to pull away from the pack. Wagoner took one last jab at Eli in the final turn, but couldn't make anything stick - and the Blue Springs local, Eli Staton, powered his Radio to the line for the 11x win!
With 2.856 points, Eli Staton was our new points leader.
With the 12x's coming out from behind the curtain, all eyes were on Profile's Rowdy Holzer. Not just because of the fact that he has the best mullet in BMX, but also because he's the dominant dude on a mission. In fact, with a win or a 2nd place finish, Rowdy could take over the lead. But if Supercross' Justin Perkins were to win the 12x main, then he would be your new title leader. ...and you'll never believe it; THAT is what happened!
Beating Rowdy is one of the hardest tasks to do in all of BMX; the dude is always seen out front and has more triples and doubles than any other rider over the last few years. But it can be done ... and Dr.J proved it here.
Out of the gate, it was Perkins (on the outside from lane 4), and Rowdy in the middle (out of lane 2) and BMX Shark "Shatty" Shatswell on the inside line from lane one. All three were within striking range as they rounded turn one, but Shatswell got a little loose on the inside line and connected with Rody just enough to blow him off his pedals. Meanwhile, Perkins and his new Supercross Vision F1 were railin' the berm for all it was worth and built up a ton of momentum on the outside line. From there, there was no catchin' the Chandler BMX local, and we had ourselves a new Amateur leader: Justin Perkins!
The 13x's rolled into the gate, pumping with adrenaline. Their intensity level at an all-time high. Of the eight fast cats in the gate, only one had a shot at the Silver cup - Bay Area's Gaige Gomolicke! All of his training with TM Howard Cato paid off right here, and every deadly uphill sprint was well worth it in the end as Gomolicke had the ultimate race of his life (so far). This win would definitely give the Bay Area BMXers team shoot a giant bump, and might've just won them the No.1 title at that moment.
Last year, Gaige wound up with the National No.3 plate; and now - he was sitting in the No.1 spot. The next main would decide his fate.
"With a win and a 2nd place, Sean Day can become the National No.1 points leader," announced USA BMX CEO B.A. Anderson. Essentially, a win would give him the Amateur Cup, and a 2nd place would put him in the lead but make him catchable. At this point, everybody left in the stands was on their feet - as this was THEE race of the night. It was do-or-die time in 14x!
From lane six, the Full Tilt factory kid known as El Suave, snapped and blasted straight to the front. By turn one, he had the momentum and began pulling away from the pack - in one of the fastest lap-times of the weekend. Smooth as butter, Sean Day rode the perfect lap from start to finish to earn himself the National No.1 Amateur title for 2021. WHEW! Awesome redemption after last year, where he'd led the main up until the exit of the last turn. This time, all of the glory was his!
USA BMX would like to congratulate the new 2021 National Champions. You've just added your name to the BMX history books. Title-streaks were broken this year, with all new first-time Champions in six of the seven categories.
BIKE SHOP TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
* story to come
FACTORY TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
* story to come