MAXXIS TIRES RACE REPORT – 2018 GREAT SALT LAKE NATIONALS
For me, the Great Salt Lake Nationals have become a staple in my yearly race visits. Partly because it is so close to home (a short 5-hour drive dropping me into the city). Mostly, it is because Rad Canyon BMX holds so many dear memories. It was the first national I ever raced, albeit I didn’t do that well. Nonetheless, Rad Canyon has become a second BMX home for me. You may also be hard pressed to find a better group of people that run the track. Dallas Edwards and his crew are phenomenal and never fail to impress when the chips are on the table.
The trip this year was a bit different than most. As many people know, this side of the countr
y is burning up acre by acre. Mother Nature is reshaping her lands with fierce fires that have left most of our cities socked in by smokey skies. For the first time in my 15 years of being at this race, I had never seen so much smoke in SLC. Luckily it helped keep the gnarly August temps down. While many expect an August day at Rad Canyon to eclipse the 100-degree mark with ease, we lucked out and nailed the high 80’s. Weather-wise you could not ask for more; even the infamous rad canyon winds were diminished.
One major letdown was the absence of the elite riders. This is the first year in quite some time that the USA BMX Pro series did not hit Rad Canyon BMX. I am not sure the reason, but it was certainly a missing staple that I was bummed about. Did it have an effect on the moto count? Perhaps. Though it was nothing major as the Great Salt Lake Nationals is never a giant moto churner. Though that too has always surprised me. A pretty solid location that seems easy to get to and a fantastic facility. Either way, the races still went down and there was plenty of bar smashing action to be had.
Riders that kept us pumped…
Kamren Larsen – Rookie Pro
Kamren Larsen is in his rookie year on the pro tour for USA BMX. For those that don’t know him, you definitely want to remember his name. Riding for Dale Holmes on the Haro/US Development team, Kamren really shot into the spotlight more recently. It is crazy to watch how good this kid is at his age. Of course the rookie class is usually stacked with some fast cats such as Hunter Brown and BJ Ensey. To me though, Kamren Larsen is the one to watch. He was up against Tyler Faoro and Jeff Upshaw all weekend and held his own quite impressively. Of the many rookies that seem to fizzle out, this kid is in it for the long haul and his dedication and charisma shows. Watch out for Tokyo 2020. I am calling it now that Larsen will be a contender for the US team. His head is in the right place and he has a killer support group.
Shawn Diprete & Shawn Ogorman – 46-50 Expert
I have always had a killer time watching the older guys scrape paint on the BMX track. We always expect the young guns to battle, take risks, blast people, etc. Yet with the older groups, it is not usually expected. Luckily the Great Salt Lake Nationals was a great time to see the best of 46-50 Expert take some risks. Shawn DiPrete was on the Old School tour with the Jason Carnes Berm Academy. I would say it was a successful end to the trip by picking up the double victory. The best part was the battle between him and Ogorman on Saturday. These two dudes were bashing back and forth all the way until the final stretch. That is when Ogorman backed off and slid back to third as Drew Motley passed him before the line.
No matter how you look at it, this was one of the best battles of the weekend. Luckily for DiPrete, that double win helped end his Berm Academy tour with a bang and a few extra save stamps. Or maybe even a trophy for his gym. You never know how these guys decorate anymore.
Lukas Smith – 8 Expert
During my time at PULL Magazine, the number of races I went to kept me on the up and up of who’s who. I knew all of the up and coming riders and usually their results. Not so much anymore. Luckily that opens the door for me to spot new rising talent when I am able to make it out. In this case, it was Lukas Smith. Needless to say, he dominated the 8 Expert class. I was super impressed by both his skill on the very technical Rad Canyon BMX track, but also his overall speed. Another double win in the books. He could easily find himself in the top ten NAG standings by the end of the year if he continues down this path.
Other Highlights of the Weekend…
Berm Academy Keeps Rolling On!
The Jason Carnes Berm Academy has been trucking for the last couple of seasons now. One of my personal highlights of the weekend was seeing how much Carnes still loves this sport with ever vain popping muscle in his body. Any given weekend he is providing his Berm Academy campers with one of the most factory-like experiences one will ever get. Perhaps the best since he treats everyone like gold. Yet while he is being pulled in every direction to keep that ship straight, he still makes time for moments like this. Braedon Mitchell came over to have Jason review footage from his last moto. Without hesitation, Carnes dropped everything to watch and give him a few pointers on improvements. This is BMX in its finest hour. A legend helping a future champion. Limitless potential. For those of you that have been considering the Berm Academy, do it now! You will not regret it.
Spencer Cole’s tough luck followed by killer sportsmanship…
For DK’s Spencer Cole, his luck could not have been worse. Both days he was caught up in wrecks during the main event of 16 Expert. Day one there was some corner blasting action that he was caught up in. Day two (above) he was holding a tight battle with Extreme Team’s Cam Wood. Unfortunately for Spencer, he found the dirt after a quick back and forth down the first straight.
Even with the turn of bad luck, the sportsmanship shined through. Many times in older classes there is a higher opportunity of turmoil rather than helping hands. Each of these kids wants the win so bad that they are willing to do anything to make it happen. It can leave some anger brewing inside depending on how it all goes down. The final turn fireworks on Saturday left plenty of opportunity for the anger portion. Rather than that, I caught Spencer Cole and Tyler Cacciola exchanging a fist bump to one another when the dust settled. It was certainly a great thing to see and shows that good sportsmanship is still alive and well.
Full Tilt’s Jack Kelly showed dominance at home track…
At one point in time, Jack Kelly was forced to start battling in packs. His pure power no longer was the key to his success. After an adjustment period, which wasn’t long, the combination of power and newly refined skill put Kelly back out front. This weekend was no different. With the pressures of performing at your best on your home track, Kelly never disappointed. Dominance was an understatement. There was not a single point where it looked like Kelly was going to lose, and he didn’t. The double win was almost expected for the Great Salt Lake Nationals, so it was nice to see the cannonball pull through!
A pleasing finish…
While there were a few letdowns, the weekend overall was pretty rad. Without-a-doubt the racing was second to none when comparing to previous Great Salt Lake Nationals. Even with the absence of the elite classes, the amateurs picked up the slack for an action-filled weekend. The overall stoke of the crowd remained high and needless to say we cannot wait for next year. Be sure to check out more industry-leading news at www.ridebmx.com. For the complete results of the 2018 USA BMX Great Salt Lake Nationals, CLICK HERE!
This wraps it up for the Maxxis Tires Race Report. Stay tuned as we will bring you more of the world’s best BMX action from Louisville, KY at the end of the month.