March was the kickoff of the 2017 STRA trails Championship Series, hosting the first four of the sixteen scheduled events for the year.
The season began with a great event in Ocala, Florida with “Fun in the Sun.” The weather was perfect for the event, consisting of four loops of eight sections that was challenging for all riders. Alex Niederer and the Florida Trials Association did a great job with the course layout and provided checkers for the event which saw 37 riders compete on Saturday and 35 on Sunday.
Trackrock, hosted by Frank Alexander, followed the very next weekend and was our first fully sponsored STRA event utilizing the 50/50 checking system, online sign-up and early posting of ride times. It also was the first event to implement the newly established “Champ Class.” “Champ Class” was held Sunday morning before the event and was a mini-clinic with some of our top riders working with participants from the Sportsman, Intermediate and Novice classes on their skills. Thank you to Alex Niederer, Alan Shirley and Tom Fraser for working with the seven riders who participated in learning techniques to ride off-camber turns. This was very appropriate for Frank’s event and we hope to continue “Champ Class” at future events throughout the year.
Weather cleared in Blairsville from a light rain on Saturday morning into two beautiful days. The event gave 60 riders on Saturday and 66 on Sunday a chance to enjoy themselves and earn Championship points. The event was traditional for Blairsville, consisting of three loops of nine sections with off camber turns, short hill climbs, creek and rock crossings. The event had a wonderful pasta dinner organized Saturday night which was a great way for riders from all classes to get together and socialize.
The outcome of each event was posted on Facebook as soon as possible, as it will be throughout the season for the remaining events. The total accumulation of Championship points for the year is currently listed in the “Results” section of the STRA website and will be routinely updated after each event. To date, riders excelling in the Championship thus far include Alex Niederer in the Champ class who posted three firsts and a second, splitting the series at Trackrock with Ray Peters.
Maddie Hoover is riding exceptionally well and is leading the Expert class, representing her Gas Gas sponsor well. Jeff Hensley, moved up from the Advanced class and looked to be in his element, riding against his new competitors at Trackrock and picking up a second and third place finish.
Kris Gilreath, moved up from Advanced Sportsman and is currently the rider to beat in the Advanced class. He has posted a second and three firsts for the year thus far. Gary Garrison rode very strong with high technical prowess posting two seconds place finishes behind Kris at Trackrock.
Trackrock set the stage for a close race in the Advanced Sportsman class between Alan Hensley, Jamie Gourley and Mike Dalmaso. Mike rode well at Trackrock on Saturday but didn’t have as good of a day on Sunday after switching bikes to his Beta 125.
As usually, Gary Holbert is dominating the Vintage A class with two firsts place finishes at Trackrock.
Sean Parker rode very well in Florida and at Trackrock and leads the Sportsman point battle ahead of Griff Shirley. Kenny Haynes has been consistent with two silver metal finishes at Trackrock.
Kevin Smith has a big points lead in the Intermediate class thus far, having competed in all four events. There is a race building behind him however, between Talon Smith, Charlie Roberts, Jay Estes and Brian Fore.
There is currently a tight race in the Vintage B class between three riders who have competed in one event each so far this season: Steve Glinski, Dennis Simoes and Bill Long.
Good competition is developing in both the Novice and expanding Women’s Novice class thus far. David Heath is leading Tommy Justice by just one point and Emily Black is leading Megan Almon, Neely Almon and Kelly Vermeulen, respectively.
Vintage C and Offroad have had a limited number of competitors thus far with the only competition occurring on Sunday at Trackrock.
As we look to April, our next STRA event is at Hickory Hills in Lenoir City, Tennessee hosted by Papa Joe Terry on April 22nd and 23rd. Section and loop design will again be supervised by our Sporting Steward, Eric Mattson, to ensure consistency between events. We also hope to host another “Champ Class” for our riders in the Novice, Intermediate and Sportsman classes on Sunday morning before the event start. Thanks to François Saint Laurent, online sign-up is currently available in the “Schedule” portion of the STRA website.
Apart from our STRA events, please support and follow our fellow STRA members who are riding in the first rounds of the American Motorcycle Association/North American Trials Council National Championship Series. The first AMA/NATC Western National event was held last weekend in Amarillo, Texas. There is an event in Sedan, Kansas scheduled for this weekend (April 8th-9th). Results can be found at www.Mototrials.com.
Keep riding and we look forward to seeing you at Papa Joe’s!