Bringing A Knife To A Gun Fight In Tonopah
Story by Trevor Hunter, Photos by Harlen Foley
Serving as Round 3 of the American Off-Road Championship, Best In The Desert returned to its roots and delivered a more-traditional motorcycle race with the 104 mile loop Hare and Hound in Tonopah, NV. Touted as bringing back old-school desert racing and relishing the days of the Whiskey Pete’s World Championship Hare and Hound, the BITD crew was able to resurrect much of the old Tonopah race course, along with mixing in some new terrain. Since this wasn’t a team race, myself and Hayden both raced, albeit on different bikes for the first time this year. Hayden stuck with the KTM 450 that we typically race in the series, while I grabbed the DBT Yamaha YZ250FX in hopes that the course would be as tight and technical as they promoted it to be.
Temps were freezing up in Tonopah, and rain and snow drizzles were common throughout the weekend. Luckily, when our race time came around at 1:30PM Saturday, the weather cleared up and made for perfect racing conditions. The start was short and twisty and very silty, making it critical to get a good jump. As the banner dropped, The 250FX lit up pretty quick, but lost out on the drag race to the first turn against many of the 450’s. From there, I had to back way off to navigate the dust and riders. Once it opened up, I was able to make a pass on an age-group pro rider and settle in behind Beta’s Zane Roberts. In the opening miles, I struggled in the dust and was riding a little tight, unable to make up much ground on anyone. A few mile into the race, Hayden came up behind me and I let him by hoping he could get through the pack quicker and get our team a good finish for points.
Leaving Pit 1 at RM17, I was further back in the pack than I would’ve liked, but I started to loosen up and find a flow through the Tonopah terrain. For the next 15 miles, I chased Taylor Stevens moving in and out of his dust trying to make a pass but unable to do so. In the tighter terrain where the dust was less of a factor, I could close in, but it’d seemingly always open back up as soon as I got within striking distance. Finally, around RM 32, he pulled off to check his bike and I was able to get by and into clean air for the first time. I scanned the horizon ahead and could see dust way off in the distance and I knew I had a long ways to go before I’d catch anyone.
From here, I really enjoyed the race as I was able to race it and wasn’t frustrated sitting in the dust. The twisty single track sand washes, virgin valleys, and roads were a blast, though some of the roads were a bit too fast for the 250FX and I was losing time to the bigger 450’s. Around RM 45, I could see dust closer in the distance and knew I was making progress. Just before catching the rider ahead, I found Jarett Megla spectating off the side of the trail out of gas, but he was healthy and cheering us on. Pretty quickly, I was able to catch the N2 bike, albeit just as I did, we hopped on super fast fire roads and he would fly past me on nearly every straight while I would make my moves in the corners. We had a good battle going back and forth for a few miles heading into Pit 2, with myself holding the front position entering the pits.
Leaving Pit 2 at RM52, I knew we were in the back half of the race now and I was feeling really good on the bike. Again, we continued to race very closely for the next few miles and as we were battling down a tight twisty sand wash, I made a mistake and didn’t have the power to recover quick enough against Nic’s 450. He made the pass and I began eating roost again. We continued to race closely before jumping onto some more 80+ MPH fire roads and sand washes. I was doing the best I could, but wasn’t able to make any ground in a straight line. The course finally dropped into a virgin valley with just a fast single track line through the brush leading the way. I continued to stay right on his wheel until he made a mistake and I zipped past. From there, I put a big effort in to try to pull away and give myself some breathing room, and that’s exactly what I was able to do.
The last 30-35 miles were pretty uneventful for me as I had a big gap in front of me and a good gap behind me. After spending a lot of energy trying to make passes for most of the race, I was a little tired and didn’t want to make any big mistakes that would cost me a position. I settled in and rode a smooth race from there, having fun in some of the tighter stuff and trying to enjoy the race a little bit. After 105 miles and 2 Hours 37 minutes of racing, I crossed the line 5th Overall/Open Pro and 1st 250. The YZ250FX worked flawlessly all day and the wide-ratio transmission worked wonders in trying to keep up with the bigger bikes in the fast stuff. Likewise, the Precision Concepts suspension soaked up everything with ease and made it a smooth ride all the way into the finish! For tires, we used Kenda Washougal II’s front and rear since that’s what we had in stock and they worked really well. They lasted the duration and we’ve put another 110 desert miles on them before the rear started to look like a street bike tire. Nitromousse Mousse’s kept us flat free as we smashed through the Tonopah desert and they held up great as we expected them to.
Thanks to those who support us!
Yamaha, 1-800-Dent-Doc, Prairie Dogs MC, Precision Concepts, IMS, Nitro Mousse, Modified Machine Works
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