Photos by Tina Lugan and Eli Madero
As the WORCS crew rolled into Honolulu Hills MX for the final round of the 2012 ATV series, the sun was blazing down on the small town of Taft, CA making this one of, if not the hottest round of racing this season. This weekend it would just be the temperature that was hot as many of the classes were so close that numerous championships would be decided at this round.
In the Pro ranks, points leader and 2009 WORCS ATV champion, Beau Baron would only need to finish the days race to clinch the 2012 championship but as we’ve seen in the past, that’s not always how the cards play. 2010 champ Josh Fredrick, who’s had unlikely mishaps this season, still came into the weekend sitting in 2nd place looking for some of his unfortunate luck to rub off on Baron in hopes of securing the title this year, but with other hard chargers like Baron’s teammate Davi Haagsma, the team Yamaha mounted riders Dustin Nelson and Josh Row, Dillon Zimmerman, Robbie Mitchell and the rest of the pack, it wasn’t going to be an easy day.
As the gate dropped for the one hour and forty-five minute race, Dustin Nelson was the first to rocket off of the starting pad but as they exited the corner it was Beau Baron who snuck on the inside to steal the holeshot away from Nelson. As the pack found its initial pace on the first lap, it was Baron running first followed by Nelson, Frederick, Haagsma and then Zimmerman. As the race went on, you could see that the high-speed and hot temps at the track would start to take their toll on the racers. First to fall off the pace was Josh Frederick who struggled with bike setup and would eventually fall from running in 3rd place to finish in 5th for the day. At the race half-way point, Dustin Nelson would make his pit allowing Haagsma make a pass for 2nd place where he would hold on till the checkered flag flew.
Beau Baron rode a strong race where he led from start to finish, never playing it safe knowing that all he needed to do was finish the race to clinch his championship. At the end of the day when he crossed the finish line he was nearly 30-seconds in front of his teammate making it a 1-2 finish for the Maxxis/H&M team. When asked about how his race went, Baron had this to say “It was a real good day today. When you get out in the front in the beginning it gets tiresome just waiting for the white flag to come out. Pretty soon you’re like ‘come on, throw the flag!’ It was fun and a good course!”
The field finished as follows: 1st Beau Baron, 2nd Davi Haagsma, 3rd Dustin Nelson, 4th Dillon Zimmerman, 5th Josh Frederick, 6th Josh Row, 7th Robbie Mitchell, 8th Mike Cafro (who announced that this was his last Pro Worcs Race), 9th Tim Shelman, 10th Kyle Grosse and finally 11th was Justin Waters.
The battle for the Pro-Am championship was no less nail-biting as only a few points separated class leader Garrin Fuller and Collins Webster. Fuller who had wrapped up two other championships over the course of the weekend was looking to complete the hat-trick with at least a 3rd place finish in the main event. When the flag flew for this group, it was Collins Webster grabbing the holeshot with Fuller 4th after the 1st turn. With clean air and nobody to slow him down, Webster quickly started to put time on the rest of the pack through the off-road portion of the track but this would all change, as he would make his first lap through the dreaded WORCS-X section of the course. This combination of logs and stacked tractor tires would claim many riders through the course of the day.
Webster entered the section with about a 10-15 second lead over Cody Mitchell who was running in second place but unfortunately got hung up on one of the first sets of tires. Fuller who was running in 4th or 5th place was able to close the gap and looked as if he was going to make the pass on Webster, only to get hung up himself as Webster got free and quickly took off. With the help of Duncan Racing teammate Levi Shirley, Fuller remounted to start closing the gap on Webster again. After charging hard for the next three laps, Fuller would work his way up to 2nd place where he would settle into his own pace and ride smart to protect his Pro-Am championship.
As the checkered flag flew on this class it was Webster taking the win, Fuller in 2nd, Ryan Waldo in 3rd, Mike Sloan in 4th and David Flores in 5th.
On a special note in this race, Allie Shelman had qualified for the Pro-Am event earlier in the weekend which allowed her to race along side her father, Tim “TPQ” Shelman, who had announced later that night at the WORCS season awards banquet that he would be retiring from WORCS ATV racing, but would return next season as a full time announcer for the ATV’s as the series will be merging with the dirtbike program. Look for a follow up story on these two in a future issue of ATV Rider.
As this season wraps up, we look forward to a new future with WORCS ATV racing. The new venues, schedule and combined format leave some skeptical on how things will run, but if Sean Reddish stays true to his word, this will be a great thing for the next year and the series will only continue to get better.