Re-Cap: 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

March 26, 2014 by · Comments Off 

2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals Re-Cap

The Gator Nationals are always hotly-anticipated, but this year a little moreso than usual. Normally, the Winter Nationals are the first outdoor pro race of the year, but this year’s schedule skipped Black Mountain, and put the pros in Oldsmar for the outdoor opener (Pro season opener was in Reno).

Something else kind of interesting, if you follow how the pros go is that Reno will likely be the only stop on the 2014 tour (except for the Grands) where we’ll see the traditional three-main format. You may have seen it on News in recent weeks, but USA BMX brought UCI racing back to the program, as Olympic qualifying for 2016 starts up again in May. Oldsmar was the first of these races, and was decided by one main.

That move also presumably impacts the state of plates. Sam ran his USA BMX #1 in Reno, but was back to his UCI career number 91 in Oldsmar. Mariana didn’t race Reno, so we may not see her #1 plate until it’s time to defend it in Tulsa. Kind of a bummer for the top plate in the sport, but UCI rules require running your career number or world number, and do not officially recognize nationally-won plates.

Those close-watcher tidbits notwithstanding, the race was what we like to call a “Goldilocks” race. Not too big, not too small..just right. Yes, 200 motos was smaller than our in-car prize pool had it pegged to be (so we had to go to “Price Is Right” rules–closest without going over). But the smaller moto footprint made getting into the parking lot a snap, and getting out at a decent hour an easy-do.

In the middle was some lava-hot racing, with changing leads, mid-packers pushing the leaders, and the never-over-til-its-over crowd-pleasing component on the last straight.

Oldsmar has been in the local news lately, with plans for a Supercross facility to go alongside their local track. Word is that shovels could be in the ground sometime this year on a big-hill hoedown.

On a sad note: In the pre-dawn hours of Saturday morning, a single-engine passenger plane with three people on board crashed, nose-first into the ground about four miles from the track, closing McMullen-Booth road, the main street just to the west of the track, for a time. There were two fatalities (one at the scene and one three days later). Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, back in Illinois.

This race always has an international flavor, and the 2014 installment was no different. We had in-the-mix amateurs from Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Russia, Curacao, Colombia, Aruba, and more.

Here are our photo highlights from the race.

(Top Photo) Elite Men had 69 riders on Saturday, making it the largest class of the weekend, by far (runners-up: 16 Expert and 17-18 Expert, with 37 riders apiece). It is bizarre to see 1/8 finals for the pros, and it required a little artful shuffling of the running order by USA BMX officials. They handled it without missing a beat, of course, as the Women, Vet and A-Pro mains were run at the start of the main events, when you’d usually see them–only the Elite Men semi was run at that time, instead of the main, in order to give the athletes some recovery time. The main event was run after the novice class main events, which made for some nice action in the middle of the main event program.

Shay Glynn at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Shay Glynn in the viewfinder. She was in Louisville, but it seemed we were off the the track when she was on. Well, here she is, taking it to 17-20 Girls class, for the first of two wins at the Gator Nats.

2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals on

The second turn at Oldsmar is the perfect place to spectate, or shout out some on-track adjustments.

Rico Bearman at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

We last saw Kiwi Rico Bearman in Lousiana a few weeks ago. And here he was, tearin it up Oldsmar as well. This is first round, third straight sky action on Saturday. Rico was suave in Florida, with three of four wins on the weekend (10x on Saturday and 9-10 open both days). The Bull, Ethan Moore, gored his score on Sunday, with the 10x win.

Mariana Pajon at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

Mariana on the move. First time we have seen the Gold Medalist since she collected her National Number One Pro Plate in Tulsa. The Elite Women racing in Oldsmar was a thrill a minute, with Pajon and Post going pedal for pedal in many meetings, and Felicia Stancil (who is a rookie by date only) keeping the pressure on, and the tires in the air. Day one went Mariana, Alise and Felicia; day two, Alise, Mariana and Felicia.

Oldsmar BMX on

Calm before the storm. This was the “shhhhh” moment, just before the Saturday Elite Men’s Main gate dropped. If you look close enough, you can see Maris in Lane 6, ready to take it to the front.

Rusty Dial and Dale Holmes at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

Rusty Dial (470) celebrated his re-class from Vet Pro to Amateur by leading the 41-45 Expert Main for most of the way. Oldsmar local Johnny Comerford on the right side of this photo and Dale Holmes are flanking Rusty, and chipping away at his lead with every roller in the final straight rhythm. Good racing by all. The final order on day one went Comerford, Holmes, Dial. On day two, it was a whole new podium set, with Luke Segal taking the win, Raul Gomez in second and JJ Grieve in third.

Jamie Staff at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

Speaking of Vet Pro: One exits, one enters. USA Cycling BMX Program Director, Jamie Staff suited up for the first time as a Vet, and was serious company for the usual top trio of Colombo, Becerine and Pohlkamp. Saturday went Cristian, Matt and Javi; while Sunday was Javi, Cristian and Matt. Jamie was fourth both days, which is pretty dang impressive with 24 riders on the sheets.

2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals on

With 37 riders on Saturday, 16x was tied for the largest am class of the weekend. The mains both days were stacked to the rafters, as one might expect. We’re pretty sure this shot is from Sunday’s Semi. Tucker Rice, on the left took the win on Saturday, and Ryan Pettigrew mounted a major push down the last straight, but ended up a few spokes behind Mr. Soekandar at the stripe. A few of these guys were handling the pro set like no-thang.

Donny Robinson at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

Donny Robinson made some impressive moves in Reno, with a podium spot on day one. In Oldsmar, he was riding with purpose, and slipping in to all kinds of open doors. One thing different about dR’s kit this weekend was the addition of his “6D” helmet. This is a new lid was developed for motocross to dramatically reduce head impact trauma, via what we like to call a “shock isolator” system. Read more about it, you’ll be glad you did. Donny made both mains in Oldsmar, taking home a fifth and a seventh.

William Parker at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

With no food poisoning putting a pickle on his pedaling, William Parker got down to business at the Gator Nats. Traded the 12x twin wins with Hollywood Hayden Robinson, who took the double on day one. Here comes the Sunday main event, with Coletrain in for the three-spot.

Maris Strombergs at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

Maris. Up front, low-drag. With the Saturday win, he took home $3500 greenbacks. We’re not sure what Sunday’s second place money came in at, but we’d have to say The Machine banked a little under $5G in prize money for the weekend.

Maris Strombergs wins day one at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

The post-podium “can-I-have-your-big-check” crush. Maris passed it off to one lucky fan, like the high-class hero he is.

Staats Bicycles at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

Slots-a-Fun. Richard Huvard and the Staats/Ciari crew hauled the rig out to Oldsmar for some East Coast exposure. They got it too, with the team getting all kinds of lead-rider calls from the tower, and plenty of oohs and ahhs from passersby in the pits. One of the things we missed in previous stop & chats at Staats was the “Drop Slot” vertical dropout on the expert-and-larger versions of their Bloodline frame. This is the quick-change beaut when you blow a tire in staging, or need to re-rubber your ride. The position stays the same for your chain, and you just pull the axle bolts, then air it up before you air it out.

Daichi Yamaguchi at the 2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals

“Dai Ichi” is a compound, modifier phrase of Japanese origin, meaning number one, or first. Daichi Yamaguchi is a 15x Factory Phoenix-Box flyer from Japan, who put the hurt on some major class heavies in Oldsmar with double wins.

A big BMX News thanks to Dan’s Comp for sponsoring our 2014 race coverage, including the free photo downloads below.

BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

Our next race will be the 2014 USA BMX Supernationals in Desoto, TX in two weeks. Until then, take a gander at the Gator Nationals Photo Galleries (links below).


2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals Photo Gallery – Saturday

2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals Photo Gallery – Sunday

2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals – Results

Photo Gallery: Gator Nationals Day One

March 23, 2014 by · Comments Off 

2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals - Day 1

It’s a pretty rare occurance when the Elite Men class is larger than the largest amateur class. Well, here in Oldsmar, 69 riders were on the sheets on day one–bigger than all the other pro/Elite classes combined. Part of that was owing to the new USA BMX rule, combining Junior and Elite, and part was because it has been a long lay-off season (especially for some of these guys, who did not go to Reno).

It just seemed like the Elite racks kept coming, with household names in all, but with some new talent also getting top-three calls from the tower.

Maris Strombergs was back in top form, as he did battle with Sam Willoughby’s mega-inertia win streak. Elite Men had 1/8 finals to whittle the big field down to a final gate of eight. This also cause a ripple in the running order, as the Elite Men’s main event, usually the fourth main event of the day (after Devo, A-Pro, and Elite Women), had to run after the novices, because the Elite Men semi ran in the usual main event running spot.

Elite Men Finishes
Maris Strombergs – Free Agent/Speedline
Sam Willoughby – Redline/TLD
Connor Fields – Chase BMX/Monster
Steven Cisar – Bombshell
Donny Robinson – SE Bikes
Joris Daudet – Chase BMX
Corben Sharrah – Haro Bikes
Riley Stair – Tangent/Rift

2014 Gator Nationals Elite Women
In Elite Women, we were treated to a 17-rider field, including Mariana Pajon, Alise Post, Dom Daniels, Felicia Stancil and a bevvy of others. Dom had not raced since Disney Cup in October, and was in the mix throught the day, though ended up the afternoon with a snowman in the main. Mariana led the main from the get-go, and Felicia had the two spot sewn up, til the final feet, when Alise got by her for the (camera) left step finish. Final Order for the women went:

Elite Women Finishes
Mariana Pajon – Dan’s Comp
Alise Post – Redline
Felicia Stancil – GT Bicycles
Brooke Crain – Haro
Shanaze Reade – GT
Dani George – Supercross
Teagan O’Keeffe – Promax
Dominique Daniels – Doublecross

We will have more from Oldsmar in our full re-cap on Monday night. Meanwhile, check out our photo gallery from Day One.

BMX News 2014 Race Coverage Sponsored by Dan’s Comp


2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals Photo Gallery – Saturday

2014 USA BMX Gator Nationals Results – Saturday