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Blais Racing Services 2-Stroke NHHA Round 5 Race Reports!

National Hare and Hound Round 5
Johnson Valley OHV
By: Skyler Howes, Pro 

Waking up to the sound of rain is always a desert racers dream! Except when you're about to hit the road to a dry and dusty place! Haha, luckily for us, Lucerne Valley got some rain on Friday so underneath the top layer of sand, it was still a little wet. Everything was looking great besides the wind. Saturday was the kids event. Braydon got a killer start and ran away with the win! Cole had a crash but still rode awesome! The bomb run was closed but Sammy, Tallon and myself found some spots to ride around away from the course to get some seat time. Another delicious meal cooked up by Patty then we all got to bed.
Race day came and I slept in a little longer than usual. This actually worked out perfect because the bomb didn't even open until after I got all geared up and ready to go! I headed over and found a pretty decent line on the far left. However, so did about 10 other people. I headed back to camp and ate some breakfast. When start time came around, I made my way to the bomb and lined up directly behind a bush. It was a tight fit with everyone heading for this same line. The banner dropped and I launched through the bush just edging out the rest of the guys. Everyone to my right started to merge into this same line and in order to stay out of the dust I kept hooking to the left and losing my line. I kept that KTM 300 wide open and somehow ended up on a super smooth trail. I felt like I got shuffled back quite a bit but it turns out I came to the end of the bomb in 4th!

Shortly after, we hit the next valley where Ricky Brabec and Jacob Argubright were pinned and passed me. We hit a lot of virgin stuff early on that was actually pretty sandy. Axel Pearson and Tallon Taylor both got around me in the fast stuff. I kept my pace, feeling comfortable and in control. It got really dusty on the lakebed and I could see Max Eddy gaining some ground. We finally hit some technical sections and I could start to gain a little ground back on people. I could see that I was catching someone as well! As we hit the next valley I noticed that I was closing in on Nic Garvin who got a killer 2nd overall start on his 2-stroke. I caught up quick and he lost ribbon veering off to the left. I caught a sight of a turn arrow in the distance and pinned it back on course taking the position. By this time I was feeling good! ESR and Race Tech have the suspension dialed and Blais Racing definitely has built me an amazingly strong motor. I put the hammer down to gain some more ground. As I crested the hill to the pits, someone gave me a number 5 meaning I was in 5th overall! It caught me by surprise knowing that a few people had to have had some issues. Regardless, I was pumped!

I came in to a quick pit from the Blais Racing crew and hit the trail on to Loop 2, which started out in the technical stuff. By this time I had gapped the next person behind by a minute or so. I hit the valley and I could see dust! I could also see a bunch of riders. I remembered that there would be some common course but when I hit the merge I was caught up with all of the quads that had just started their race. We were a few miles into loop one already and it really confused me, I thought that I somehow made my way back out to loop one! I got really freaked out thinking I had just ruined my race by missing course or something. I stopped on course to look around and see if I could see any different dust from where I just came from. While stopped, I looked back to see Ryan Smith and Max Eddy charging up through the quads. Thinking, "well they must know what's up" so I kept charging on for a few miles and then the weight was lifted off my shoulders by seeing the loop two split. 

As I came up to the next technical hill, I crested it and couldn't see any markings but stayed on trail. I looked to my left to see Ryan and Max on a different trail apparently on course. I dropped down and pinned it to make a quick pass back on them. In the valleys they would stay right with me but I could put a gap back on them in the technical. Max put a pass on me, lost course, found course, I passed him, Ryan passed us both, I'd pass him back and it went like this for miles! It was an awesome three-way battle! I noticed we were gaining on another rider, it turned out to be Ivan Ramirez who had just took a gnarly digger and was just taking it easy to the finish. While in a valley I miss judged a few corners, which allowed Ryan to sneak in and make another pass. I was following right on his rear tire waiting for any chance I could to make another pass. While in a technical section, his back tire kicked over and sent a bowling ball sized rock straight to my front tire! There was nothing I could do. The rock drilled me and I took a dirt/boulder sample. Max came by and asked if I was good, I gave him a quick thumbs up and re mounted my bike. A few yards later Max had went straight over the bars on a waterfall! I tried to capitalize but he remounted right when I got there and then we hit the next valley. Max held it wide open and Ryan had already checked out. I charged hard all the way to the finish not able to gain any more time. I made my way up the awesome finish line hill and came through the checkered in 6th overall!

I'm really glad that I can consistently finish around these spots and maintain a great overall position. I wouldn't be able to do it without all my awesome sponsors: Blais Racing Services, Fasst Company, KTM, ESR suspension, Race Tech, RAD Mfg, Freegun, AMS OIL, Alpinestars, Kenda, Pro Moto Billet, Fastway, FMF, Rekluse, HBD Motografx, Regina, TLD, BRP, Bullet Proof, DirtTricks, Eline, IMS, No Toil, Acerbis, Muscle Milk, Xbrand Goggles, A'ME Grips, RMOR FX and Bike Week Radio. 
(Photo by KATO) 
By: Ben Meza, 250A

The days leading up to race day I unfortunately found myself feeling ill. Due to this, I was unable to be out in the desert except for 30 minutes Saturday and then bright and early Sunday morning. I knew due to the illness I had to be really hydrated.
Sunday I got out to the staging area at 6:30, unloaded my bike, and went to go run the bomb. I found myself a good line up the middle and went back to the pit for any final preparation before the race.

In no time it was time for the race I did my usual prayer with Jay Young, said good luck to all of my friends and gave my dad a final hug before the banner dropped.

I revved up my motor getting it nice and hot then I killed it as the banner was raised. I stared it down and then..... I was off! I got a great jump off the line, my best all year! My Blais Racing steed had clear air all the way to the end of the bomb run where I presume I was sitting in the top 10. I kept a conservative yet quick pace only getting passed by a couple riders. I got myself in the groove and railed through the wet sand filled first loop. 

After the 40 mile section I came roaring into the Blais Raving KTM pit where I was told I was sitting 12 OA! I was feeling okay but I knew if I tried pushing my sickness would catch up with me.

On the second loop I tried to push but halfway through I hit a while and everything went downhill. All my energy was drained from my body. I could barely keep myself standing let alone try and push, but that went against everything I believe in. I dug deep clenching my teeth I kept pushing forward! I couldn't keep my earlier pace but I tried my best only getting passed by a few riders. The second loop had a great flow and I wish I could've enjoyed the technicality of it without being sick.

Finally I made it to the finish. I was able to salvage a 16th OA and a 4th place in the 250 A class. The finish was much better then I felt I was riding, and I can only imagine what it would of been if I had been feeling 100%. This was the first time I ha to conquer a National Hare and Hound while being under the weather, it happens to all of us every once in a while, but I am really glad I could limit the damage done. As of now, halfway in the series, I'm sitting third in the 250A points I'm happy with it and want to build and try my best to satisfy my desire for that win! I want to thank all my sponsors for the constant support every week! If it wasn't for them none of this would be possible. I also want to thank my dad and the rest of my family for allowing me to chase my dreams! I want to thank my girlfriend for the endless support as well as my club HBMC for always being there for me. Finally I want to thank The Lord for looking over me in everything I do and keeping me safe!

This weekend my teammate Sam Bangert had a really bad get off, breaking his pelvis as well as his L1 vertebrae. I'd like to ask you all to say a prayer for his quick recovery. (photo by KATO)  

By: Brendan Crow, Open A 

Round 5 of the NHHA series would mark the halfway point of the series as a whole, and I wanted to keep the momentum rolling for the next few rounds before we have a bit of a break for the summer months. I headed out to the race site on Saturday morning to help with the kids race, and Erek Kudla did a great job again organizing and executing the races. Unfortunately it was windy, but there had been some rain Friday night that led to some great dirt before being slurped up by the desert soil. 
There were issues with the bomb run being open and ready to ride on Saturday, which led to waiting until Sunday to look at it, and once I had the chance to look at it I was not very excited for the start. I ran the bomb several times, but could not decide on a line! I was able to see where other racers were starting to line up, and just picked a spot that I thought would work decently. 
As the banner dropped I came to realize very quickly that I had a terrible start. I was able to fire up my KTM quickly off the line, but was forced to funnel down into the winding trails and dust much sooner than I would have wanted. I played it safe through to the end of the bomb, and did my best to maintain my position and make as many quick passes as I could. The first half of the loop went by fast, and I was really enjoying having a new set of Kenda tires as we marched our way through the sand. The first loop went smoothly, and the most difficult part wouldn't even be the terrain or other racers, but the wind! It was blowing my tall stature in all sorts of unwanted directions and took creative body posture to power through. Coming through the pits I grabbed a immaculate pair of Xbrand goggles and was sitting in 29th overall and 5th in the open A class. I knew that staying smooth and consistent as I pushed through to the finish would be the key to make up positions.

The entire 2nd loop I focused on riding my pace, and let my Race Tech/ESR tuned suspension do all the work in the rocks and rough terrain so I could continue without wasting energy and lose positions. I had clear air most of the way, and was able to make several quick passes and enjoy my quest to forward myself in the results. The loop had a lot of single track through rocky canyons, and it was a nice change to block out some of the wind and was really fun! I kept charging forward and was able to make 2 more last minute passes within miles of the finish to land me in 21st overall and 2nd in Open A! The start of the day was not the greatest, but having another solid finish is something to be happy about. 

As the halfway point of the series is on us I am excited to be maintaining consistency in the championship, but I will continue to work on and look for more ways to progress as we go through the next 2 rounds away from our local southern California desert. I want to give huge thanks to the many people and sponsors that help me continue my fantastic quest in the 2014 NHHA series: My dad, Blais Racing, Fasstco, Race Tech, ESR, AME, HBD graphics, Dirt Tricks, NoToil, Fastway, Leatt, FMF, TLD, BRP, Xbrand, Alpinestars, Samco, Bulletproof Designs, Kenda, Rekluse, IMS, Acerbis, Eline! (photo by KATO)  
By: Sam Bangert, 200A 

For Round 5 of the AMA National Hare and Hound Series, I would head out Saturday around 11:00am. It was windy at home and sure enough, it was windy when we got out there. I was really stoked to see one of my best friends and mentors, Michael Allen, show up Saturday! We went over and helped with the kids race at RUTS Hill with some pros. Later that day, teammate Skyler Howes and Beta rider Tallon Taylor and I went for an awesome ride. My trustee Blais Racing steed was running prime.
Sunday we woke up to more wind I decided to skip tradition and have a chicken salad for breakfast which may have been the choice that changed the fate of my day. I was feeling a little more nervous then normal, but was ready to race. 

My start was rad! I felt so good being in the front of the pack again. In the first few miles I passed and got passed a lot. I was having fun battles with lots of people. By the middle of the loop my clutch was fried so it was difficult to ride. At the pit we decided to run it, so off I went. The first half of the second loop was rough without a clutch but I was having a great time battling with Joey Black. I was surprised to see that we had caught up to a group of riders (a couple of Checkers, a Beta and a KTM). They were a little ways ahead so I started pushing. I went out to pass Joey on a downhill. As I was side-scaling to get back to the course, I hit something and it sling-shotted me into a group of boulders. As I picked up my bike, I felt pain in my side. My throttle was stuck so I pushed it in pain, about a half mile to the next check where they helped me fix it and I rode on. 

The next 15 miles where the most painful I'd ever ridden. I crossed the finish line and went straight to the trailer where I got off my bike doubled over barely able to stand and feeling like I was going to barf! My mom was freaking a little till they saw the lump on my stomach and Skyler said, "We need to get him to Rescue 3". Then she was freaking a lot! At the ambulance they said I should get to the hospital and we figured it would be faster to drive then wait for another ambulance to get there. Thanks to Skyler and Ben, the motorhome was packed and ready in seconds! Steve Walker followed us in his truck in case something happened on the way (thank you so much)! 

When we got to St. Mary's, my brother was waiting at the door. They were very worried about internal bleeding and organ damage so within minutes they had me on a bed doing an ultrasound. The doc was relieved not to see blood but still worried cause of swelling in my stomach so they tried to figure out the fastest way to a trauma center. Meanwhile I was enjoying whatever they put in my IV. They decided on a helicopter. I was wondering about this decision thinking about how windy it was outside but went with it. The helicopter ride was sick! I spotted some trails we can check out, all you desert friends!! 

My mom was driving down in that horrible 'Sunday 15 traffic' so she called my cousins, Jack and Brianna who were there waiting with my Aunt Roni and Uncle Randy when I got to Loma Linda. As all this was going on, my mom had sent a text saying "please pray" to my grandma, Aunt Denise, and friend Sarah. Between the prayer chains started by them, our good friends at TeamTrue, other friends that were finding out and my dad's friend, Bob Borba he was working with in Paso Robles who asked immediately if he could call his wife and start a prayer change (I found out later it goes to 1500 people!) I knew I was in good hands and even told the doc I was going to Race Utah this weekend. 

The CT showed a cracked pelvis and L1 in my back and my intestines are bruised. They decided to make me stay the night for observation and to make sure everything was working properly and I could get around on crutches before I could go home. When I got to my room, here came Michael to come see me! My cousin Nan came too and a little later ABS leader Tom craft. Thanks guys it really lifted my spirits. Although the staff was great I discovered I hate hospitals and hope I never have to go back! Because I was surgical watch I could not eat and was starving by the time they lifted that at 10:00 Monday morning! I was released around 3:30pm Monday and went straight to In n Out Burger!

I am home now and the off the good pain meds and have decided Utah is out. Docs say after 1 week, I can go back to school and light pressure on crutches. My plan is to heal well these first few weeks so I am ready for ISDE qualifier which is 6 weeks exactly! 

Thank you so much for all the prayers. I am truly grateful for them and all the well wishes. I'm so lucky to have good friends and family. It could have been so much worse. Also thanks to all my sponsors for their continued support: Blais Racing, Fasst Co, Amsoil, Vonzipper, Asterisk, Alpine Star, Rad Mfg, AME grips, Fastway, Kenda, Notoil, RaceTech, Samco, my club VCMC, and the Walkers. P.S. I want to thank my grandparents for the continued love and support!



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