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Blais Racing Services NHHA Round 10 Race Reports

By: Brendan Crow, OPEN A Class 
100’s MC, NHHA
The final round of the NHHA series would be full of mixed emotions. From the horrible loss of Kurt Caselli to the joy of the wet dirt he would ultimately give us, I have a feeling that this event will prove to be one of the most memorable experiences I will ever have. Once arriving on Saturday, I was extremely excited to get to ride the wet desert. The whole Blais team helped out for the youth race, and soon after that we would all take part in the memorial lap for Kurt. A ton of people showed up to ride the one lap around the youth course, and it was definitely amazing to see how many people that Kurt has been able to influence over his racing career. There was also a flashlight vigil held later that night, and it was very comforting to hear all of the amazing stories that everyone had about Kurt. Once that was over it was time to try and relax and transition to race mode.
I was very excited to get the race underway because it would be my first national riding my 300 in the Open A class, and I had become to feel very comfortable on it in the last couple of weeks leading up to the race. Prior to this race I had one goal in mind for myself: finish in the top 20 overall. I got a decent start, probably in the top 20 somewhere and quickly settled into a pace for most of loop 1. The wet dirt proved to be an interesting factor as everyone could ride really close together without being afraid of the lack of vision. This became more and more apparent as I would seem to find myself in the midst of battles throughout the 2nd and 3rd loops. After I had lost a few positions on the 2nd loop, I came through the pits one last time and was told I was running in the top 20. I was pumped up! I had no need to grab a set of Xbrand goggles because dust wasn’t a problem, so I set out on the last loop hoping to maintain my position. I found myself starting to get a bit tired, and started slowing my pace a bit so that I wouldn’t make any mistakes. After going through the last check, I took a look behind me only to see my teammate Sam behind me. He had gotten within striking distance of me, and I had no intention of letting him by. While he was pressuring me we were actually able to catch and pass a few of the guys in front of us, and nearing the finish I was able to hold him off in what would be an amazing debut for him, as well as my best finish to date. 
I finished 16th overall and 2nd Open A. I am really happy with result, and am glad to end the season on a high note. I’m really excited to see what the future holds, and I know what I am going to work on to prepare to chase this series once again in 2014. I want to thank all of my sponsors for all of the amazing support: Blais Racing Services, Fasst Co, Kenda, NoToil, Dirt Tricks, FMF, Race Tech, ESR, IMS, BRP, X brand goggles, Acerbis, Alpinestars, Fastway, Bullet Proof Designs, HBD graphics, TLD, Samco, Rekluse have all been a tremendous group of sponsors to work with this year.
By: Skyler Howes, Pro #7
Saturday was a tough one. Colt and I drove down to Lucerne Valley early in the morning just in time for the Youth NHHA race. I found my buddy Braydon Bland in the Super Mini class, we got his line dialed and all warmed up for the start. He rode awesome this race and ended up finishing 2nd overall Mini for the NHHA series! So pumped for you dude! After the race was Kurt Caselli's memorial ride around the mini loop. It was so awesome to see how many people came out to honor such a great dude. Later that night was the flashlight vigil where we got to tell stories about Kurt. Of course I got choked up before I even got to the mic but I'm glad I got up to say something. It still amazes me to see how big of an impact Kurt made on so many people. RIP KC66
Race Day! 
I parked my bike over on the far left and packed in my line. The banner raised and I sat there for what seemed to be the longest 60 seconds of my life. They dropped the banner and we were off. I hopped into a solid line that a few guys were running the day before and held it pinned. The dirt was like chocolate brownie mix, so perfect! My Blais Racing Services KTM 300XC pulled strong and brought me to the end of the bomb run behind Nick Burson and Jacob Argubright for 3rd. We all pushed hard across the valley where Jacob and I swapped positions. We funneled into the first wash where Jacob had a sick line and took the lead from Nick. I felt great just keeping the pace and having fun running in third.
As we came out of another valley, we dropped into a small wash where Axel Pearson and Justin Morrow both split me and charged on to put me back to fifth. One thing that I learned most from Kurt and Anthony is to just be patient. I let these guys push hard and I rode my own race. We came into this gnarly boulder field where Jacob, Nick and I stayed in the main line. Justin and Axel were hair balling it out in the boulders trying to make passes and about weeded themselves it looked like 20 times each. These guys were on it! After that, they all started to check out. I took a glance back to see Austin Keys close behind and I was so stoked for him to be running so good! Came into the first pit stop, gassed, got some water and headed out. From then on I did not see one person other than a course worker.
The second loop was sick! One valley was almost like a big turn track just out through the bushes and the epic dirt. There was some technical sections but everything flowed nicely. In for one last pit and out on the third loop. This last loop had a couple of awesome technical sections and a lot of single track through the rocks and hills. All of this single track was almost like mountain biking, you could session all of the little hills to make doubles and triples. All of the washes were flat, fast and the dirt perfect to rail up some nice ruts and corners. Such a perfect day for a race! I rode a virtually mistake free race with only a couple bobbles here and there. My bike felt awesome thanks to the Race Tech and ESR suspension and railed through the SoCal loam thanks to my Kenda tires, Rad MFG wheels, DirtTricks sprockets and Regina chain.
This year had a lot of ups and downs. From battling with my idol and hero, Kurt Caselli, holeshots, leading Hare and Hound races, winning local desert races to crashes and injuries, the most serious being 3 broken vertebrates in my back. I have learned so much this year thanks to Kurt, Chris Blais, Anthony, Patty, my team mates, Ben, Brendan, Sammy and of course my parents. The opportunities that I've had just this year, I don't think I could ever say thank you enough to all of you. The week that I got to spend in Mexico with Anthony, Kurt, Sarah, Jason, Antti, Quinn, Kendall and the rest of the KTM crew was absolutely the best week of my life and memories that I will cherish forever. Racing in this family is such a huge blessing to me and it has made me realize how important it is to always have fun, and love life. 
To all my sponsors, fans and people that have always supported me, thank you so much. Blais Racing Services for the best running KTM 2-stroke around, Fasst Company/Flexx Handlebars for all of the love, support, advice and keeping my hands wrists and arms fatigue free, KTM, Torco Oil, ESR suspension, Race Tech, RAD Mfg, Freegun, 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, TMFG Designs and Bike Week Radio. 
Sam Bangert N316 and Skyler Howes 7 on the start line for NHHA Round 10.  Sam's first expert row start!
By: Ben Meza, 200A Class Champion NHHA 

2013 was my first year racing in the "A" class. I went into this season with two goals; First, to win the 200 A Championship, and second, to earn a Top 20 O/A number for the year. My season started of right on track. I won the 200 A class at the first three rounds and had maintained a top 25 finish at every round so far. I kept my momentum going into round 4 and managed to get another win and my first step towards my second goal by getting 20th O/A. At Round 5, I had a crash and kind of messed up my momentum with a DNF. I rebounded after with yet another win at round six, and then my best overall finish of the year at round seven with a 12th OA. At this point in the season my point lead was so great that there was no way anyone could catch me. I had accomplished my first goal, now I had to switch my focus to Overall points and getting comfortable on my 250. Round 8 didn't go how I had planned, but at round 9 I would score more points towards the overall.

Coming into round 10, I had one goal in my mind. A top 10 finish Overall. I knew I had the speed to do it, I just needed to be smart. I got a great jump off the line, but unfortunately fell into a giant hole at the end of the bomb run. I got my self out and going, and was on a mission. I got into my flow and just started picking off riders one by one. I caught my teammate Sammy who was killing it in his first ever expert race! I was going good when I noticed something in a bush on the right side of the trail up ahead. It looked like a bike and someone laying in the ground, I rode over to make sure they were okay, it was Paul Krause, I waved down the rider behind me, Sammy, and told him to inform the next check that he was down. After talking with Paul for a few minutes he decided he wanted me to just pick him up and get him on his bike. I assisted him onto his bike, and he told me to just keep going. By this time I had lost around five minutes, after I saw him get going I took off. I got back to my original goal and just started charging. I was sitting around 40th overall and by the first pit I had moved up to 29th Overall. 

On the second loop I caught and passed Sammy again and worked my way passed Brendan as well. In the pits the second time I was sitting in 15th Overall. I had one thing in mind, and I pushed as best as I could on the last loop, I was only able to make one more pass on the tight 3rd loop, but I finished in 14th Overall. This was just enough to bump me into 19th Overall for the season! My race wasn't totally the way I had planned it, but I feel I did the best I could. I'm extremely pumped that I was able to meet all of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. 

I owe all of my success this year to the team the backs me, Blais Racing Services has done so much for me the last few years, and I am really excited to continue our relationship in 2014. I also want to thank all of my sponsors, Fasst Co, TLD, Race Tech, ESR, Dirt Tricks, Fastway, Muscle Milk. BRP, A'ME, HBD Motographx, Alpinestars, Kenda, Bullet Proof Designs, Asterisk, Scott Goggles, KTM USA, KTM Powerparts, FMF, Regina Chains, HBMC, and of course my Parents for all there endless support!
Ben Meza's full spread in Cycle News this month!
By: Sam Bangert, 200B Champion NHHA 

This 2013 series was a great one. It had its ups and it had its downs. The downs would be at the first Utah round when I broke my wrist and my collarbone and the ups of the season would be the wet dirt at Round 1 and the last Round 10. The season didn't go as I had planned it, but I couldn't ask for a better ending, and I had a great time getting there! I ended up winning the AMA National Hare and Hound 200 B Championship and I'm looking forward to the Expert line in 2014! 

For the last round of the NHHA series, I would line up on the front row against the best desert racers in the world, but we would be missing good friend Kurt Caselli. Saturday would be filled with the kids race and a memorial lap for our friend KC. There were probably 700 riders on the ride and later that night there was a flashlight service where Jay Young said a sermon and people went up to tell stories about this great man and his kindness and humility. Sunday morning, I was nervous but ready for the challenges ahead. It had rained for a few days and the dirt was perfect. I was looking forward to a dustless bomb run start. 

On the line, I started to get antsy. As the flag went up, I realized who I would be battling against for a line, my teammate Skyler Howes, Nic Garvin, Bryan Burch, and Axel Pearson. The flag dropped and my Blais Racing KTM fired right up and I fell in right behind Axel. I was just holdin' er south. By the end of the bomb I was about top 15 which I was stoked on! 

The first loop was fun with chocolate cake turns and chocolate washes. My Flexx handlebars took care of the choppiness which left me arm pump free. As I came through the pits, I got a speedy pit stop and was on my way on to the second loop. About ten miles in, my teammate Ben Meza caught up to me but ended up passing me shortly after. I don't remember much of the second loop - I was just charging ahead. The third loop was by far my favorite loop. It was technical but not that hard. I ended up catching and passing a few people along the way. I also saw the famous Beau Cottington which got me in my first video ever!! I am super stoked on that. 

Me and my teammate, Brendan Crow, ended up having a battle all the way to the finish which ended me up 17th overall and 1st Place in class in my first ever expert race! I want to thank all my sponsors and the people that help me: Blais Racing Services, Fasst Co, TLD, Race Tech, ESR, FMF, Cytomax, Muscle Milk, vonzipper, Rad mfg, Amsoil, Asterisk, Alpinestar, Samco, Rekluse, Crossfit hi-def,Fastway, and my club VCMC. I want to also thank Kurt for making me better rider and person. Ride in peace! Also my mom and dad, Nic, Ben, Jacob and everyone else who I train with. Yee Yee! 
Our Tribute to Kurt Caselli.  You will always ride with us!
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