In this latest edition of my top 5, I’m going with what I think are the top 5 most wild GNCC races of the past five years. “Wildest” can refer to conditions, outcome or the actual racing action. So, here goes…
#5: 2010 John Penton GNCC – Millfield, OH: The rain poured and poured on the ATV race, but died off in the Afternoon. When morning rose on the bike race, conditions were still nasty muddy but still better than the day before… Until the Mini race ended. That’s when the skies opened up and let loose a fury of rain. The shower was over within an hour but had made conditions bad enough to consider combining the Morning and Afternoon races into a single race. Once that was shot down, the decision was made to shorten the races to 1 hour for the morning and 2 hours for the afternoon. When the checkered flag flew at the end of the day, it was Cory Buttrick who took home his first XC1 win at his home race.
#4: 2010 Snowshoe GNCC – Snowshoe, WV: The 2010 Snowshoe GNCC goes down in the history as one of the closest times an XC2 rider has been to taking the overall win. KTM Privateer Jesse Robinson fought his way into a physical second place position, which was good enough to put him into the overall lead after the time adjustment. He even pulled to leader Nate Kanney’s rear wheel at one point. It seemed like Jesse had the win but with just a few miles to go, he got stuck in a rut and spent a while getting himself out. He missed the overall win by a few seconds, but still put in an impressive ride.
#3: 2008 Snowshoe GNCC – Snowshoe, WV: The 2008 Snowshoe GNCC was the first time there was a serious threat for an overall win by an XC2 rider. Thad Duvall battled back and forth with defending race winner David Knight and held a physical lead of the race at one point. In the end Thad came up a mere 3 seconds short of taking the overall win. However, the ride itself was still incredibly impressive.
#2: 2011 Steele Creek GNCC – Morganton, NC: The 2011 Steele Creek GNCC saw one of the most epic battles in the entire history of the GNCC series as championship contenders Charlie Mullins and Josh Strang basically raced wheel to wheel for the final laps. The closing miles of the race became the most intense moments as Strang was breathing down Mullins’ neck just waiting for him to make a mistake. As they made their way into the final grass track section heading to the finish, Strang made several attempts to pass for the lead, but Mullins was able to hang on. Strang made a mistake coming out of the next to last corner and Mullins pulled away. With the finish line just a few feet away, it seemed as if Mullins had the win locked up. That is until his front end washed out in the final corner, and Strang rode around him to take the win.
#1: 2007 Steele Creek GNCC – Morganton, NC: The 2007 Steele Creek GNCC will go down in the record books as one of the biggest upsets in series history. As the first “hot” day of the year, the riders were challenged by the temperatures, and each other. The beginning of the race was controlled by Shane Watts, David Knight and Charlie Mullins who all swapped the top positions in the opening laps. Knight was the first to fall back after running into bike problems. Mullins took the lead then Glenn Kearney and Barry Hawk would being their journey towards the front of the pack. Then Mullins fell off the pace and dropped all the way to 10th place. This put Kearney and Hawk in a position to battle to the finish on the closing lap. As they entered the grass track section for the final time, they swapped the lead position several times. Coming into the finish, Kearney jumped a ditch and squared up the next to last corner, while Hawk rolled it and made a straight shot across the finish line, passing Kearney at the absolute last second. Kearney was completely spent and collapsed under the scoring tent, his bike crashed into the scoring lady and broke her leg. Shane Watts took third place and also collapsed after the finish. Barry Hawk was the only rider to make it onto the podium for the entire celebration as Kearney was taken to the hospital and Wattsy gave a small speech, tossed some swag and went back to his truck. In the end, Barry Hawk came out on top of what I declare to be not only the wildest GNCC race of the past five years, but also of all time!