Sunshine State Nationals Race Report & Photos
Ahhhhh ... Florida sunshine. What more would you expect? After all, this is called the Sunshine State Nationals. There's a reason why all of the Northeastern Bluehairs migrate down here in October to bed-down for the winter.
In fact, you could almost say this is paradise.
For the BMX crowd, Okeeheelee has long been a BMX paradise in the state of Florida. The set-up here is picture perfect, located around a waterski/wakeboard park, you can't help but be impressed as you enter the front gates. To the left is a nice-sized, brand new double-wide that houses sign-ups and trophies on a weekly basis. Over to the right is a permanent snack-shack, which for this weekend was being manned by the local high school culinary class (so, you're not only getting get grub, but the student-cooks are also earning their grill-time credits for graduation).
Impressive already ...and we haven't even gotten to the track yet!
Once you walk up the asphalt backside of the starting hill, past the lush palm trees and landscaping, through the gated chutes, and up to the legendary Bensink barrel gate (the only one in existence on American soil). While the usual "slam" of a typical BMX gate is common to our ears, at first it's bizarre to listen to the cadence and beeps followed by a "whisper" of the drop. But take our word for it - this gate SLAMS quickly; just quietly.
As you fly around the Okeeheelee track, you'll encounter some great obstacles and a silky smooth slurry surface. An angled step-up into turn two is not only fun but a great style-spot for photos. For the pros, there is a split straight pro section with a Chula Vista-like berm-jump!
Out of the last turn is a super long, dog-legged rhythm-filled straightaway that's liable to give you forearm pump. One mistake, one minor case or bobble, and you can get eaten up before the finish. One of the hottest spot down this stretch is the inside/outside decision-maker at the knee of the dog-leg. Hit the inside and you'd got a tougher (yet cooler) step jump, or choose the outside and rail the berm to build up some outside momentum and speed as you close in on the stripe.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
For Friday, the Pro Open class saw some surprising entries - including Haro's Nic Long and Dan's Comp pro Tyler Faoro. Surprising because both these guys were skipping the big pro-show in Lake Perris, California. Long was on vacation, while Faoro spent all of his travel budget on an engagement ring last weekend. In the end, Faoro earned a little bit o' money to pay off the big diamond on his fiance's finger.
- 1 TYLER FAORO, DAN'S COMP, CORAL SPRINGS, FL
- 2 AUSTIN LOEBE, C-YAA FACTORY, DOVER, DE
- 3 ANDERSON FILHO, VARGINHA, MG
- 4 NIC LONG, FACTORY HARO/PROMAX, LAKESIDE, CA
- DNS: MENARDO SIMON, YESS, PHILADELPHIA, PA
Amateur action on Friday was a sweet indicator of the action that was to come this weekend. With many Profile, Yess, C-Yaa and CCH factory riders in attendance, competition is still plenty tough despite the fact that a lot of the major NAG contenders were out in California trying to up their scores with the larger rider-counts.
The 17-18x was one of many expert classes that was rockin' the Okee facility. In the final, Yess' Millard Petrona held off TNT's Scott Thomsen for the victory - and hoped to keep that streak alive the remainder of the weekend.
- 1 MILLARD PETRONA, YESS BICYCLES, WILLEMSTAD
- 2 SCOTT THOMSON, TNT BICYCLES, WALLINGFORD, CT
- 3 JAYMER CAROLINA, ORANJESTAD
- 4 SANTIAGO ARIAS, MEDELLIN
- 5 ROBERTO GAMARRA, LA PAZ
- 6 JAKE OLISH, C-YAA FACTORY, EASTPORT, NY
THE FINAL REGULAR-SEASON NATIONAL OF 2016:
While Florida might not have had super-large rider-count, there were plenty of racers here going for two more precious wins to up their standings in NAG points. This would be their last chance; the final opportunity to break into the Top-10 or for others, the Top-5.
C-Yaa's Evan Sinchak was one of those many, who came to Okeeheelee to get two more wins to keep himself in the Top-10. But so was Blackcrown's Cameron Bramer, who came to this race seated in the #12 spot. In 15x, it was a head-to-head battle between the Chesapeake local and Southpark'er, but Bramer was on point and scored the lead coming out of turn one and never looked back.
Theirs was a story like so many other main-makers. Not only making the main here, but winning it, could play a huge factor in positioning as we head toward Tulsa for the #GreatestRaceonEarth.
For much of this year, Yess' Drew Motley has been sitting atop National Cruiser standings. The 46-50 ranks on the big-wheelers has pulled some good rider count all year, and Motley has won the majority share of them to put (and keep) himself in the No.1 spot. Coming into this weekend, he is tied with The Major - Marshall Gehrke, with 1,792 each. Marhsall is 9 years old, and No.3 seeded Ty Beadle is 10. So, the big question that will be answered in Tulsa this Thanksgiving, is whether an old guy or a young pup will earn the silver Championship Cup?
While most of the Top-10 contenders were in SoCal, Motley decided to stay close to home and had some good competition in 46-50. After holding off Arkansaw's J.J. Grieve, Motley would add yet another notch to the belt on his Yess leathers.
- 1 DREW MOTLEY, YESS, ORMAND BEACH, FL
- 2 JJ GRIEVE, AUSTIN, AR
- 3 STEPHEN KISSLINGER, HOBE SOUND, FL
- 4 DONALD DANCE, JACKSONVILLE, FL
- 5 CHRIS WHILEY, HYPER BODY ARMOUR, ALACHUA, FL
- 6 JOHN PRINGLE, PROFILE, ARCHER, FL
- 7 GUILLERMO GONZALEZ, CUTLER BAY, FL
- 8 GREGORIO RIVERA, POWERCYCLES, ORLANDO, FL
In the girls ranks, two of the greatest classes to watch all weekend were 15-16 and 17-20. In fact, all year long - the 15-16 Girls ranks have seen some incredibe racing, and chances are looking good that this year's National No.1 Girl will come from this class. In Florida, Profile's very own Rose Hoke took on the World-ranked C-Yaa rider, Stephani Morin, and they duked it out elbow-to-elbow all the way to the stripe. On Saturday, Hoke came out on top. For Sunday, we'll soon find out if Morin can even the score.
- 1 ROSE ELLEN HOKE, PROFILE WORLD TEAM, ST PETERSBURG, FL
- 2 STEPHANI MORIN, C-YAA FACTORY, BEACH PARK, IL
- 3 CARLY JACOBS, FACTORY DAYLIGHT CYCLES, MT JULIET, TN
- 4 KAITLYN DETERS, SSQUARED BICYCLES, ST PETERS, MO
- 5 KYRA CHIAPPINI, VERT FACTORY RACING, CAPE CORAL, FL
- 6 DENA DAWSON, FACTORY YESS, BRADENTON, FL
Full Tilt's Cassidy Crotty lead the 17-20 ladies main into turn one.
- 1 NICOLE GLOWATY, SPEED TECH/ SSQUARED, TARPON SPRINGS, FL
- 2 CASSIDY CROTTY, FULL TILT RACING CO., CENTERVILLE, MN
- 3 MONICA RUIZ, BOGOTA
- 4 ALLISON WOLFE, LAKE PARK, FL
- 5 TAYLOR OBLOW, LOXAHATCHEE, FL
- 6 KRYSTIANNA LEWIS, WEST PALM BEACH, FL
- 7 ANNA BEYNON, FASTBACK RACING, ROCK HILL, SC
- 8 KALEE REYNOLDS, CYCLECRAFT FACTORY, STOCKBRIDGE, GA