Although I had my doubts that the Red Riders could overcome the streak that Team Green garnered with - among others recent victories - the recent Nevada 1000, reigning SCORE champions Steve Hengeveld and Johnny Campbell pulled it off at the Henderson's Terrible 250 this weekend in Henderson, Nevada. The two had a stellar performance, managing a fast lap for all but one of the five laps in the 120-odd degree heat.
Three of the Honda riders (Andy Grider, Danny Cooper and Hengeveld) crashed pretty good in the area known as The BLM's Revenge, which was a nasty rock-strewn section that top riders amazingly managed to race through in third gear.
Grider, who ripped open his elbow at the Nevada 1000 requiring stitches, ripped open the same elbow this weekend. Grider's co-rider, Danny Cooper, was the hometown favorite to win, but the two only managed a third for the day. Cooper was quoted as saying in a local newspaper that he knew where every rock on the race course, but it seems what he didn't know was that there was one rock that had his name on it, and it was out to get him.
Again because of Grider's injury, Cooper rode longer than he had expected to, probably somewhere around three laps as I remember Grider telling me. At the end of his race as Team ORC was heading out to capture some more video of the race, Cooper was making his way in.
Grider took an exit on our conversation while holding his butterfly stitches on his elbow, saying, hey "Thanks for the shot on the Nevada 1000 coverage of my elbow. Sweet."
As of now, I'm uncertain whether Cooper did go down or not but did know that he was dehydrated pretty good at the end of the race and needed some recovery time.
Ty Davis and co-rider Russ Pearson rode it home to a second. Lately the Blue Team has been giving the big-bored bikes a run for their money on the YZF426, which Davis says is little more than a bored-out 250. Davis and Pearson had a few good moments at the Nevada 1000, finishing within the top six motorcycles for the race and even finishing within the first five on day 2, but the bike ended up having motor trouble. According to Davis, the new YZF450 will make its debut in the desert-racing scene within the next three months. He says it'll be a night and day difference racing the 450 against the big-bore 4-stroke of Honda and the 2-stroke of Kawasaki.
Team Green's entry, Shane Esposito and Dave "Fearless" Pearson, were favored to win and dicing it up for a victory run in the third lap, which they clinched the fast lap of the race on, but a blown rear shock lost them any chance for contention later in the race and resulted in a DNF.
For the Nevada 1000, Espo soloed the race for a second overall because of rider of record Destry Abbot's scheduled knee surgery. Dave Pearson rode with rider of record Brian Brown for a first overall for the 1000-mile race, making it an epic Team Green moment for the top two slots.
Anyway, the rear shock problem is certainly not the first time the KX500 riders have had their woes. Recently, at the Adelanto Grand Prix, Dayton Rapor, a fast and self-supported rider who is on an aimless plight to bring Kawasaki back to Baja, a place he's been doing quite well for himself, also dumped a rear shock at the AGP. Fortunately, he had a backup bike at the time and dissected it for the parts. Before the shock gave way though, Rapor was second among the factory-backed pros and showing no signs of letting up. Despite the problem, he still managed to make (from what I remember) a fifth place finish for the race.
Back to the ramblings about the Henderson's Terrible 250:
XR's Only rider Mike Childress, the 19-year-old kid who's on his way to an AMA District 37 championship season aboard his 650R, swooped into a fourth for the day. He teamed up with veteran Chuck Dempsey and Beau Hayden. Mike ran the first and third laps, which kept his team in contention for a fourth place finish. He's aiming for a factory ride. Having beat last year's SCORE, BITD and AMA D-37 Champion and Honda lead rider Steve Hengeveld at a D-37 Hare & Hound, Childress is well on his - as long as he can find a reliable co-rider that can keep the bike up to speed and in shape. In addition to an excellent co-rider, it is our opinion that Childress is also in need of a mentor to hone his natural skills as a desert racer. We believe the man for the job is none other than Bruce Ogilvie, Honda Race Team Manager.
Here's a shot of Honda's Johnny Campbell, left, SCORE CEO Sal Fish, center, and Honda's Steve Hengeveld, right, just after their finish in the 120 degree heat. Tim "Desertbull" Sanchez, our Dodge section editor, swiped the camera while I was talking with the three of them. If you've never been to a desert race, the Baja 1000 would be the one to go. Let me know if anyone of you is interested. I can put together some spectator locations to watch the race and get some awesome video and photo footage.