On The Side

Random Happenings On and Off the Track

o New Jersey’s Jonathan Gabel proved himself as one of the fastest unknowns of the weekend. His win during Saturday’s 18-20 Expert main came ahead of some pretty impressive names including Soto, Larralde, Brandt, and Royal. He wore TNT colors on Saturday, but switched to a privateer look on Sunday. It shouldn’t be long before this kid earns a big-time factory ride.

o The X-Games annual dirt jumping contest took place on Saturday, so reigning champion Brian Foster took a flight to San Francisco instead of South Park. Unfortunately Brian and various industry types missed one of the best races of the year. The weather was great in Pittsburgh compared to 30 mph winds at the X Games. Todd Lyons kept the race crowd up to date on the X Games via cell phone. The jumping contest was a little wild, but Brian took 2nd place and the silver medal. The big prize money and TV coverage that Brian earned meant that missing South Park was a good call.

o The folks at Airwalk were on hand to give away free shoes, food, and more. Airwalk had a contest where you stuck your hand inside this big glove and tried to tie a shoe one handed. Successors received free shoes. Alan Foster and company also hired a caterer to provide free food for the Airwalk team and various VIP’s.

o GT’s guitar-man Dan Shanahan made winning the 17 Expert mains look easy. He combined great starts and incredible track speed to remain untouchable. As always, GT had more amateurs out front than any other brand. Bubba Harris and Tank Carder were just two of GT’s many fast ams.

o The Huffy golf cart was in full effect as Scott Toth, Huffy pros, and various mascots paraded around the pits throwing out free Huffy T-shirts and stickers. A swarm of kids constantly mobbed the Huffy cart as Toth and company pumped the crowd over a bullhorn.

o MCS has a slew of fast youngsters in Pittsburgh that could all jump. Troy Simek was the biggest of the little MCS kids. He won Saturday’s 13 Expert main. The smallest kids jumping the pro jump were usually aboard MCS bikes.

o 1-800-COLLECT gave away free backpacks and watches to the first twenty-five riders with a DK bike complete with a 1-800-COLLECT sticker to visit the DK trailer. Needless to say, if you had a DK you were stoked.

o Haro may be from San Diego, but they’ve definitely got some fast kids from the east too. Ohio’s Ian Hopkins, Florida’s Justin Joy, Michigan’s Carlos Pierson, and Florida’s Mike Brandt were all on a mission. Haro collected more wins than you can count in Pittsburgh.

o The ABA tried to crash the NBL’s big party by scheduling a race on the same weekend. Only seven pros were willing to pass up the South Park experience for the easy money at ABA South Carolina. Powerlite’s Danny Nelson was the subject of many jokes in Pittsburgh because he attended the ABA race. Danny laughed all the way to the bank¿he won class and open both days in South Carolina.

o South Park is a fast, technical, and exciting track. The only downside to all of the big jumps was the high number of crashes during novice, rookie, and girl motos. At one point there was a crash in at least ten races in a row. Nothing’s worse than waiting on the gate to race when some kid laying in the second straight can’t get unclipped.

o GT’s Christopher Baldwin loved South Park’s track and proved it by skying the pro jump on every lap that he could. Keep in mind that this kid is only eleven. He won 11 Expert one day while Haro’s Ian Hopkins won on the other.

o The locals at Push, Pittsburgh’s infamous riding spot, have been doing tons of rebuilding. This year instead of having hundreds of reckless racers and the local police visit their spot, they locked chains from tree to tree in front of all the lips. This kept everyone out and all of their hard work intact. Most racers found S&M 118-20 Expert Dan Lachman’s trails located just a few miles from the track.