After a week off, we were back with our rescheduled Race for Life. This special race was started back in 1981 after a 12 year old rider from Michigan passed away from Leukemia. Todd Kingsbury was a hard-core BMXer who rode for Powerlite, a National team. After being diagnosed with this dreaded disease, his race for District and National Points, suddenly became his Race for Life! 8 months after the diagnosis he was gone. Now over 30 years later, the Race for Life, held at nearly every USABMX sanctioned track has raised over 3.6 million dollars for the National Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
The turnout was a bit disappointing but this is the dog days of summer full of camps and vacations plus a race at nearby Whip City. With only enough riders to create 17 motos which included 4 open classes plus a Stride group.
Before the on-time gate drop, we honored Ethan Escobar with the presentation of his Intermediate Certificate. Ethan won his class last week here and moved from the Novice ranks with his 10th win. While he was in the announcers’ tower receiving his certificate, he was named Rider of the week, for his accomplishment. 14 year old Ethan named his brother Kai as his favorite rider.
As always we started the day off with some Strider racing action. With a lineup of 4 short-legged pedal-less racers, it was fun to see the smiles. The biggest smile was on the face of 4 year old Anika Schnabel from Brooklyn New York, who was riding in her first race ever! Parker Kennedy put in his usual front running effort. Haley Blackburn was there decked out in her Evolution-X uniform and Payton Bardunias rounded out the group.
The 4 open winners were Johnny Tomboly in the 9-10 mixed open; Justin Mark in the 31 & Over open (He’s 15 years old); Robbie Webb won 9-10 open and Ethan Begnoche grabbed a win in the 13-14 open.
There was one moto of Cruiser riders with 5 entered and ages ranging from 10 to 44. 12 year old Alex Kuehn won the class with 10 year old Logan Shelly second and his twin brother Landon third.
The novice classes were split into two groups with the first being the 6 year old division. Unfortunately for Elena Curtis, she would be the one who did not transfer out of her motos. Elena seems to have just as much fun no matter where she finishes. Mary Sloan, who I wrongly stated had enjoyed her sixth foothills win last week, in reality, with today’s win, made it her fifth Foothills win. An impressive point is that this was her fourth in a row! Brady Kennedy was second and Kayla Barker was third. Leithen McMillan fell pretty hard in turn two but was able to ride off.
The second group was the 8 year old Novice class which was actually made up of four 8 year olds and two 7 year olds. With that said you would figure the win would go to an 8 year old rider. Not the case. After being named Rider of the Week a couple of weeks ago Andrew Beach is a different rider.
This 7 year old Novice nailed down the win in the 5 rider main event. Caden Kennedy was second and third went to Anislee Bardunias. Kevin Kelleher tried hard but missed qualifying for the main event. Kevin had fallen in practice so maybe that had an effect. Andrew now trails Mary Sloan by only one point in the quest for the Novice Championship.
The first of the four Intermediate classes was the 7 year old grouping of 5 riders. This was also a mixed bag as there were three 7 year olds, one 6 and one 5 year old in the mix. Ayden Wolanski was the 5 year old and could just not muster up the horsepower to earn a qualifying position. The main event went to Shawn Biello with a much improved Noah Andersen second and Austin Perillo third. Noah moved up to the Intermediate class back in June. After missing the main event for the first three weeks, he now is positioned to win at any time.
The 9 year old class had 6 riders in it including one 9 year old novice rider. Unfortunately it was that novice rider (Henry Wildman) who did not make the main despite a good try. At the start of the main event, the gate was held and our announcer explained that on this special race for life day, one rider was racing for someone else’s life. Johnny Tomboly was dedicating this main event to 3 year old Madden Dunleavy, who has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Johnny would finish fourth but that was secondary and no one, including Johnny seemed to care. The moment was moving and sure puts things in the proper perspective. Way to go Johnny and the best wishes go out to the Dunleavy family. Today’s win went to Trevor Neilson with Aidan Biello, needing one more win for a move-up second and Justin Perillo third.
The 10 year old Intermediate class had 6 evenly matched and evenly ranked riders going for the win. Ethan Hine was first to qualify. Pierce Curtis and Logan Shelly transferred out in round 2 while Alden Guzy and Mason Blackburn qualified from round 3. Landon Shelly just missed making the cut with a late pass at the finish line. Apparently there was an issue with our announcer calling out the names of the riders that transferred as they went by the announcer’s tower and then a last second pass at the finish line changed that order. As a reminder the announcer is not the official scorer and can only call the race (Unofficially) as he sees it from the announcers tower located back in turn 5. Riders should always pedal to the finish line or accept the consequences. There is an old axiom that goes something like this, “You snooze - you Lose”. We are sorry if anyone feels otherwise but what else is the announcer supposed to do? He simply calls what he sees. Probably best to use the issue as a learning experience and move forward. Anyway, the main event win went to Logan Shelly which is a big one in this competitive group. Ethan Hine settled into second place and a rejuvenated “Fierce” Pierce Curtis finished third.
In 11 year old Intermediate action there were 4 boys and one 11 year old girl. Unfortunately for the boys, this 11 year old girl happens to be running away with the female track championship. Ashley “Smashley” Jasensky was unbeatable and, although being challenged hard all the way to the finish line, held off the gang and all will suffer the knowledge that they we’re beaten by girl power! Second place went to JT Kelleher who came so close to winning. Kai Escobar was third.
Going into the 9 year old Expert class, both Trevor and Garret Cooper were tied for the lead in the quest for the male track championship. Both were in this class. 9 year old Garret transferred out of round two while 8 year old Trevor crashed in the second round. With only one chance left to make the main, Trevor came through and made the cut. With the main event field set, there would soon be a new leader in the quest. As the gate dropped it was obvious that no one was going to catch Robbie Webb and he led all the way to the stripe. Garret held on for second place and Trevor came back for a solid third. Garret now leads the points chase by 20 over Trevor.
The first “total points” race was the 3 rider 12 year old expert class. With Matt Webb winning a closely contested round one with Alex Kuehn right on him and Jerry Taylor right there also, it looked like a very exciting day of racing was in store for this group. Matt has a little tendonitis in his knee and, after training three days in a row with Josh Wedge, Matt’s knee was barking so he elected to sit out the rest of the day. The official order was Alex Kuehn, Jerry Taylor and then Matt.
In the 4 rider 15 expert class Just Mark was odd man out despite a great attempt to make the cut. Ethan Begnoche took care of business and won the main event. Ethan Escobar second with Jagur Layman (Colby Direct Delivery) third.
The last two classes were both total points events. Josh Wedge sounded the school bell and “schooled” student second place finisher Chris Pannullo and third place finisher Casey Tanner in the 19-27 year old Expert class.
Finally the last class of the day was the 46 & Over expert class with a line up of Craig Begnoche. Mike Sigrist and Fred Roy. Yup the same Fred Roy who announced his second retirement form BMX about 7 weeks before. In today’s action Mike won two of three motos with Fred winning the last one. Mike was today’s overall winner, Fred second and Craig third.
Again please remember that you must race at least 10 race days to qualify for a Foothills BMX year end award. See you next week.
Complete finish report