The Young Guns Strike Again
Story and Photos by Trevor Hunter
After a long couple weeks of testing and prepping our Beta 300 RR Race Edition, the 2017 edition of the 24 Hours of Glen Helen has come and gone. With less than desirable conditions throughout the weekend, the weather wreaked havoc on the race course and the pit crews. From sunrise on Saturday morning until the time we all left on Sunday afternoon, the wind never wavered. As a result, the course was dry, slick, and unlike any other 24 hour course in recent history. The layout seemed to be slightly faster than last year’s race with a little less singletrack and more fast roads up on the ridges and pavement sections down below. About an hour before the race, we determined our race order to be Chance Fullerton, myself, then Preston Campbell with Jarett Megla rounding out the rotation. Chance got off to a good start with a Le Mans style start. Rounding the 2nd turn, he was running 3rd Pro behind Justin Seeds and Mark Samuels.
We had no issues for the first few hours with all of us turning in respectable times and staying consistent. After Preston got on the bike for a 2nd time, the filter hadn’t been changed and the dusty conditions clogged the filter causing the bike quit running. In a hurry, Preston popped the airbox cover off and pulled the filter screen we had been running off to allow for more airflow but the cover didn’t stay on once he got back going again. As he came in unexpectedly, we performed a rear tire change and a filter change. What might be the only weakness with the Beta is the process of changing the air filter. It’s quite difficult to line up correctly and there’s very little space in the air box. Every time we pulled a filter out we would have to clean the air boot from a little dirt that had fallen in there and take quite a bit of time to line up and get the filter tightened down with the keeper.
We changed our first rear tire after 6 hours of racing and the Kenda Washougal II had seen better days. With the hardpack conditions and the amount of pavement this year, the tire had chunked off quite a few of the side knobbies with the center’s being worn down to nothing.
Following the tire change, Preston was off to finish the 2nd ride of the race. Once Jarett got off for his 2nd turn, it was time to put the lights on. The light installation was very simple like always but we also changed another filter since the bike would be stopped. We continued on for a while and didn’t have any problems until Chance’s 4th ride of the race. He came in after the first lap with a rear flat tire. We ran Nitro Mousse’s in the front wheels and we used one in one of our rear wheels but our spares both had extra heavy duty tubes with 16 psi in them. After changing Chance’s rear wheel, we sent him back out. We attempted to put the Nitro Mousse from our race wheel in our spare wheel but after getting the tire off, the mousse had already split in half and had a few cuts in them. We continued on with tubes for the rest of the race.
Again, Chance came back in for another unexpected stop the following lap. He ended up ripping the wire out of the connector that goes to our lights. A couple minutes later he was back out for his last lap. For the next 4 ½ hours, we had no issues and everyone continued to put in solid laps while we still ran 3rd overall like we had for the entire race. When I got on for my 4th ride, I went out and made half a lap before the bike shut off. At first instinct, I pulled the airbox cover off and peeled the filter skin back. I was able to ride it for another mile or so before it shut off again. This time, it wouldn’t start back up and I started pushing the bike along the ridge. Eventually, after trying over and over again, the bike started up and got me to the bottom of the ridge. From there I pushed the bike back to the pits where everyone looked the bike over. John Braasch thought the fuel vent hose might be clogged and sure enough it was pinched between the frame and the skid plate. Problem solved.
After I went back and finished the lap, we had lost around 11 minutes and a couple positions overall due to the vapor lock issue. Again, we continued to be trouble free until I got on the bike for the 5th time. As I went out for my first lap, I noticed the lights were bouncing around quite a bit more than usual. I continued on and about ¾ of the way through the lap, the rubber grommets had worn out completely and the clip to hold the lights in the mounts had broken. One side of the lights had come out of the mounts and started flopping around. I finished the lap but came into the pits needing to replace the grommets. At the same time, we changed the front wheel to get a fresh Kenda Washougal II and Nitro Mousse since the bike was stopped. Eight minutes later, I was off and running again.
Five minutes into my 2nd lap, I got a flat tire. I continued to ride the best that I could but speeds were way down as the bike struggled to go in a straight line. Luckily, we had planned on changing a tire when I got off the bike so everything was ready but it happened a lap early. On my final lap out, I had a lap-long battle with Max Eddy whose team we believe was running around 4th overall at the time. As I followed his dust the first half of the lap, I closed in going down the Boy Scout trail and pursued him through the pavement section. Once off the pavement, it was a drag race up the silty ridgeline and he was able to barely edge me out on his CRF450X. I continued to follow and then I made my move along one of the fast straightaways in the back where the Beta 300 had enough power to hold him off.
Preston got on the bike next and the airbox cover fell off going down a tight singletrack. For the rest of the race, we ran without a cover and tried to tape it up the best we could. As 6:45 AM rolled around, Chance got on the bike and we pulled the lights off and installed the last air filter. We had no problems and we came into the finish 3rd overall and 3rd in the Open Pro class.
In all, we lost about 25 minutes due to mechanical problems throughout the race which makes up for the lack of problems we have had the last two years in a row. The whole team is satisfied with a 3rd in our first time racing the Open Pro class and with only four riders allowed, we experienced how grueling it really is. Our pit crew made a world of difference this year with the amount of problems both us and the Sr. team had. Craig Fullerton has spent every moment in the pits the past two years with no sleep and has kept the bike fueled up and helped with every other problems that’s taken place.
Also, Carson Baehr kept all of our light batteries charged up all night where we had zero issues with the batteries failing. Another thanks goes out to all of the companies that supported us: Beta USA, Kenda Tires, KC HiLites, GPR Stabilizer, IMS Products, ARC Levers and Nitro Mousse. The Beta 300 RR Race Edition ran perfect the whole race on 91 pump gas mixed with Maxima 927. Additionally, we ran the entire race on Maxima MTL 80wt without changing the oil once and it still runs like a champ.
If anything has to be said about the bike, every rider unanimously said it was the best handling motorcycle they have ever ridden in the singletrack and tighter conditions with both the motor and the suspension.
We had some small problems with the Kenda Tires as the rears wore out quicker than we expected with the large amounts of pavement and the hardpack conditions the wind gave us. We went through 4 rear tires but just like most teams, we could’ve gone through a lot more, The IMS Core footpegs never failed as they were dragged through the rocky canyons and kept our feet glued to the pegs. Also, our oversize dry-break tank kept us from running out of fuel as we were burning about 2.5 gallons an hour.
The GPR Stabilizer kept us from getting too worn out in the plethora of bumps that continued to grow as the race wore on the ARC levers never bent or broke despite a few crashes and tip-overs. Lastly, a huge thank you to Dirt Bike Test and Jimmy Lewis for giving us the opportunity to race this race. As we looked over the bike following the race, it’s almost amazing that nothing else went wrong. Sometime in the middle of the night we noticed a missing subframe bolt. We replaced it; however, by the end of the race it was nowhere to be seen.
We also went through a set of brake pads and had the race been any longer, we would’ve had to change another set. Additionally, the bike is a little lower on coolant than we would like it to be and one of our rear wheels was close to falling apart as multiple spokes had backed out quite a bit.
All in all, the Beta worked great and held up for 24 hours with no significant problems other than some self-inflicted errors on our parts and freak experiences like the vapor lock issue. Check the site for more tests and reports from the both teams in the coming weeks.
Here’s a full lap of the 9 mile course: