Gold Cup Finals - South East
Story and pics by James Pennucci
This year the DK Bicycles Gold Cup South East Finals were held at one of the fastest BMX tracks in Alabama - Circle City BMX, in Dothan.
If trying to claim one of the coveted Gold Cup Plates brought you to Circle City BMX for your first time you might have been surprised when you first saw the track layout. The track starts out normal with a huge covered staging area, which was great for this weekend with the threat of all-day rain on Sunday, but when you get
into the gate, that’s where things start to change. Not only is the starting hill very steep, but that grade continues all the way down to the first turn. White knuckle high speed first straight
drag racing at its finest, then you mix that speed with an assortment of jumps along the way and it turns up the excitement level to an eleven! The first turn is not very tall however it is
about two hundred and seventy degrees of fun, and when you go into there two-wide it is hard not to bang bars with your opponents. Now you might be doing some quick math in your head
and thinking two hundred and seventy degrees that almost sounds like you are going to run into the first straight, and you would be correct. Just like the racing on that 70’s era Criss Cross
Crash Hot Wheels race track you may have grown up playing with you are heading right back across the first straight, and that could have been exciting enough by itself, but not for the
team that designed this track. The giant tabletop on the first straight is really a four way intersection style tabletop so you jump it on the first straight and hit that exact same jump
diagonally on the second straight. The landing from your first straight crossing sends you speeding into the entrance of turn two and sweeping you back in the same direction as the first
straight. The third and fourth straights are made up mostly of super deep rhythm sections, so you really get a workout after the thrill ride of the first two straights ends.
Unlike years in the past, Friday night this year ended up being a Last Chance Qualifier not a pre-race, so you could come to the finals with only one Qualifier and pick up your required second one the night before the finals. The first two days of racing had perfect weather it was warm and sunny, but Sunday started out raining and rained almost until the end the main events. Now with it raining on Sunday, that really changed things up because that downhill first straight into a low turn was downright treacherous when it was wet. The slip and slide nature of that turn took out a lot of riders, especially inexperienced riders that tried to run low, and I am sure changed the finish order for a lot of moto’s jumbling up the points. After short while the local track volunteers went out there in the rain and dried the first turn with some propane flame throwers and leaf blowers between moto’s, while others pushed the water off with a broom on the flat spots, and that really made a huge difference for the remaining laps.
Overall it was a great weekend of super-fast racing with about 120 moto’s Saturday and Sunday, and a lot of happy riders going home with Gold Cup Plates.