Over 1200 racers, fans and family from all over the country came together in Morgantown, W. Va., to celebrate not only a season of Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series racing, but to honor their GNCC family members and reminisce the good times on and off the course. Hosting the GNCC awards banquet for the first time ever, Waterfront Place Hotel and Convention Center provided a stellar setting for this year’s celebration that took place Friday, December 2 (ATV) and Saturday, December 3 (bike).
Saturday evening was especially emotional when it came to 2011 XC1 bike champion Charlie Mullins, who was presented with his first-ever National Championship hardware-including the official number one plate, phoenix trophy, medallion and diamond-encrusted GNCC championship ring. Mullins is the first of a new-generation of pro racers that grew up racing GNCC from the Youth ranks to win the championship.
“I’ve spent so many years standing up here watching everyone else’s championship video, it feels good to finally be able to watch my own,” Mullins said. “I slept with last year’s [banquet] program sitting on my night stand and winning the championship is something I have only dreamed of, until now.”
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the night was when long-time GNCC enthusiast and announcer Hannah Reid received the Award of Media Excellence for her impressive duties on the microphone as the GNCC Youth podium announcer and co-race announcer to Rodney Tomblin each weekend. Hannah is retiring her duties on the mic after this season to pursue her education and will be back periodically next season as a fan and friend of GNCC Racing.
Claudia Danielowitz received the Wiseco Performance GNCC Sport Ambassador Award for her involvement in and passion for off-road racing. Wiseco awarded Claudia with sponsorship products and a token GNCC Sport Ambassador Wiseco EZ-Up to display in her pit area for 2012.
Jared Smith, who was in a motorcycle accident several years ago that left him paralyzed in the right arm, won the Bad Ass Award as a result of outpouring nominations and requests from the GNCC community.
The Most Improved Rider was Andrew DeLong, for his progressive season in the XC2 Pro Lites class, ending the season with his first race-win. Austin Lee received the Youth Rider of the Year Award before announcing his jump to the three-hour afternoon race next season and Grant Baylor was awarded Amateur Rider of the Year after finishing higher than any amateur in the afternoon overall.
President Jon-Erik Burleson was present to accept the Manufacturer’s Cup on behalf of KTM North America for their committed presence in the GNCC Racing community-not only on Pro Row, but everywhere throughout the GNCC pits.
2011 Specialty Award Winners
Rider of the Year: Charlie Mullins
Amateur Rider of the Year: Grant Baylor
Youth Rider of the Year: Austin Lee
Most Improved Rider: Andrew DeLong
Bad Ass Award: Jared Smith
Rough & Ready Pit Crew: Keystone Offroad
Sport Ambassador: Claudia Danielowitz
Award of Media Excellence: Hannah Reid
Manufacturer’s Cup: KTM North America
State Championship: Ohio
In Memoriam: Lynette Hare
The 2012 Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series kicks off once again in Florida in conjunction with Daytona Bike Week on March 10-13. ATV practice will take place on Saturday and racing on Sunday, followed by bike practice on Monday and racing on Tuesday. For more information visit www.gnccracing.com.