Snowshoe GNCC Preview

June 19, 2009
JC Hilderbrand
JC Hilderbrand
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Hilde is holding down the fort at MotoUSA's Southern Oregon HQ. With world-class dirt bike and ATV trails just minutes away, the hardest part is getting him to focus on the keyboard. Two wheels or four, it doesn't matter to our Off-Road Editor so long as it goes like hell in the dirt.

Grand National Cross Country Racing

The Snowshoe GNCC is just a week away and this is going to be one the premier event in the entire 13-round series. Unlike other Grand National Cross Country races, this one goes far beyond the regular weekend rigmarole. Riders and fans have the whole week to enjoy West Virginia’s ski country with interaction and participation at an all-time high.

GNCC racing allows fans to get closer to the action than any other format, but now they can do more than just watch their heroes. GNCC University is a new program which gives fans the opportunity to bring their own bike and get personal coaching from top pros. Both bikes and ATVs are welcome with Bill Balance, Traci Cecco and Johnny Gallagher tutoring the quads and Barry Hawk, Thad DuVall, Randy Hawkins and Jason Raines spreading two-wheeled wisdom. Riders need to be at least 8-years-old with a minimum 85cc machine. Only 30 riders are allowed in each class (ATV/bike) and enrollment starts at $378.

Here’s the itinerary for the University:

Wednesday June 24th:
Night: Orientation followed by a meet and greet with Yamaha Champions. (hors d’ oeuvres will be served)

Thursday June 25th:
Breakfast (provided)
Morning Instructional riding period
Lunch (provided)
Afternoon instructional riding period
Dinner (provided) followed by roundtable discussion

Friday June 25th:
Breakfast (provided)
Morning Instructional period
Friday Lunch (provided) and Awards

Snowshoe is also the last opportunity for teams like FMF Factory Suzuki Off-Road, Am-Pro Yamaha and Geico JGR Kawasaki to make a solid push and develop some championship momentum before the summer break. Currently, The Axeman, Paul Whibley is holding down the lead on his KX450F, but behind him are the Suzuki duo of Josh Strang and Charlie Mullins. All three have individual wins so far this season, but Mullins hasn’t tasted victory since the opening round in Florida. The top trio has created a sizeable points gap on the rest of the field, but with Snowshoe’s unique track design, this round is anybody’s guess.

Unlike normal races which feature roughly 10 mile loops, the Snowshoe will double the pleasure (or pain) with a second loop held on the western side of the mountain. Only the pros and experts will get to race this extended format and the reason is that it’s not going to be a walk in the park. After riders finish the first 10 miles and roll through the pits, they then bail into a 1000-ft descent to start the new section. Of course, they have to come back up as well.

There won’t be anything else like this for the rest of the year. A $50,000 purse is up for grabs so the big dogs will be running WFO and we expect all the fast locals to come out of the woodwork. It’s going to be the biggest event, gnarliest course and top prize money of the entire year. We’re flying out on Monday to get an early start. Don’t miss it.

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