Fly Racing Steel Wheels Pro Challenge

December 16, 2014 by · Comments Off 

Tyler Whitfield wins the 2014 Pro Challenge

The last race of 2014 for many Midwestern BMXers was capped-off with some big-time action last weekend as the “2014 Fly Racing Steel Wheels Pro Challenge” was folded in to a last-day double-pointer at Steel Wheels BMX in Hobart, IN.

The race, previously known as the “Future Pro Challenge” was presented by Dan’s Comp and local-hero wheelbuilder, Dragon Wheels turned out nearly three-dozen high-wattage shredders from neighboring states, and wowed the crowd with a peek at how the up & coming expert talent might measure up once they hit the age requirement to turn-up. Pro-Ams like this really are a rare glimpse into that world, and give the heavy-hitters of tomorrow a gauge on how fast they need to be to hang.

Promoter Gene Bedinger has run the race since its inception in 2004, and brings a level of professionalism and purpose to the program that serves as a great example for other regional Pro-Ams looking to create a “dynasty” event. That, of course, needs to be coupled with a Track Operator who sees the vision. Jackie Altizer and her Steel Wheels crew has been a great partner for the race over the years.

We asked Gene to give us a speedy-recap of the haps on Sunday afternoon, along with a video of the main event. Producer Kimberly Parkinson of 189 Productions is finishing-off a proper edit of the whole magilla, that News will bring you on Friday morning.

Here’s what Gene had to say:

2014 Steel Wheels Pro Challenge

Zack Rothfahn, Seth Michalowski and Joseph Gerhartz rock the roll into turn one of first round.

The top amateurs and A-Pros in the Midwest stopped into Steel Wheels BMX in Hobart, Indiana to battle for $1,000+ in cash and prizes at the 11th annual Fly Racing Steel Wheels Pro Challenge presented by Dan’s Comp and Dragon Wheels.

After putting-down their $15 entry fee ($20 for the pros), the top talent in the region waited with anticipation to see who they would be matched up with when motos were posted.

Would they have Doublecross star Olijuwon Davis next to them? Or 2012 podium-topper Tyler Whitfield for Ssquared Answer? Or Answer/Rennen Michigander Markwane Billingsley, fresh off a third in 14X at the Grands? Or maybe some “Midwest Muscle” in the gate, in the person of 15x Answer/Rennen shredder, Erik Meyer? The cool part: everyone was a threat against all the others, which made for some amazing racing all day long.

The three moto “pro scramble” format is so much fun because the fans get to see those riders doing battle in a lot of different combinations during the day.

It was Ssquared Answer’s Brandon Ceslok that set the tone early and won his first moto, taking the lead in the points. The very next gate, teammate T-Whit got his first win, and the race was on to see who could get a perfect score and be awarded an all-important inside gate for the semis. Round three was the first time they would face each other and the Rockford rocket got the perfect!

Olijuwon Davis made the cut easily and Eric Meyer was fourth in points. Local pro Corey Ross had good time in the motos with a 2-2-3 to get into his semi, fifth in points. Alienation/BMX Mania/Dan’s Comp maniac, Shannon Taylor, had some solid laps in to earn seventh and get lane 4.

Semi 1 had OD, Meyer, Tony Claar, Michael Noble, Nicholas Tanzymore, Billingsley, Seth Michalowski and Josef Gerhartz line-up, in that order. Seth slid out in turn one, and his day was done. OD went a little high, and Meyer “Midwest-Muscled” under him, and held the line into the second straight, and beyond, to go on for the win (which was an amazing accomplishment for a 15x, or any expert, really). Awesome as the 1-2 finish was, the racing behind them had the whole building on their feet, as Noble looked underneath Billingsley in the third turn, to make a 4th-to-3rd attempt and slid out. Markwane and Claar both ran him over and crashed. Boom! The world had changed just-that-quick. Survivors Tanzymore and Gerhartz made it in.

Semi 2 had T-Whit, Big B, Ross, Taylor, Justice King, Richard Maldonado, Jason McMullen and the second of the Tanzymore twins, Tyler, looking for four more spots to move on to the payday lap. Ceslok and Tyler got out first and moved over a little to get a better line in the first turn. Ross clipped Brandon’s back wheel and went down, taking King and McMullen with him, with such force that it took 10 minutes to get it all cleaned up. Taylor and Maldonado were able to get through, after Whitfield and Ceslok.

The video (below) will tell the story of the main event, but it went off clean, with nobody on the ground (the first time in years). Tyler Whitfield became the first rider at this event to take the trophy home with his name already-on-it from his 2012 win.

I can’t wait to see the action in Hobart next year. Thanks to Fly Racing, Dan’s Comp and Dragon Wheels for helping us on such a great show.

BMX News 2014 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp

BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

Here is the video of the main event.


Tyler Whitfield (center) – Ssquared Answer
Brandon Ceslok (left) – Ssquared Answer
Olijuwon Davis (right) – Doublecross Bikes
With race promoter Gene Bedinger

2014 Steel Wheels Pro Challenge Podium

Main Event Results
Tyler Whitfield – Ssquared Answer
Brandon Ceslok – Ssquared Answer
Olijuwon Davis – Doublecross Bikes
Eric Meyer – Answer/Rennen
Richard Maldonado – CCH
Shannon Taylor – Alienation / BMX Mania/ Dan’s Comp
Nicholas Tanzymore – Pit Stop / Tanzymanics
Josef Gerhartz – Star BMX Products

Check BMX News on Friday for the full-race edit. Meanwhile, here is the photo gallery of the full day’s racing.

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Photo Gallery: Steel Wheels Pro Challenge and Double-Pointer

BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

Rains, Planes and Automobiles

September 18, 2011 by · Comments Off 

JP on his way to a double in 17-18x

Story and Photos By Mike Carruth

Day Two of the 2011 ABA Hoosier nationals came all-too-early for this reporter. In fact, as I was racing out of Starbucks and onto I-294 breaking the bonds of the 312, the first gate of Sunday racing was on-course.

No biggie, really, because I despise shooting in the rain–refuse to, is more like it–so I would have been just another soggy spectator had I been up at 6AM, as was the plan.

My hysteria about being late subsided as text messages were returned telling of the damp conditions. It was then that it dawned on me that sleeping in my own bed, and heading back to day-two of a national is not a condition I am at all accustomed to…THAT was the “off” thing for me today. Normally, it’s a four-hour flight, or a 10+ hr drive, check in to a hotel and catch-as-catch can for any kind of vegan fare that can be conjured up. But today, it was all the comforts of home–including the alarm clock I have not yet figured out how to use after 16 years (why do laptops last 18 months, and alarm clocks last 18 years?).

Indeed, I have not been to a national within home-sleeping range since Itasca BMX in 1982 (it rained that day too). Oh there have been nats here–at The Hill, and even Imagination Glen, but not since I got back into it in 2008. Rockford is just far enough away–at 94 miles–that a hotel is mandatory on Fathers Day weekend.

DID YOU KNOW…there has not been a BMX race in the Chicago City Limits in 32 years? (“The Great Race” at the Chicago Amphitheater, on the 1979 NBA/Schwinn tour). We need a world-class track in the Windy City-proper!

I rolled up to a grey-but-dry Imagination Glen, just as Justin Posey was taking home a first round win in 17-18x. Seemed like a fair amount of “second-verse, same as the first” happening in the age classes–though that was by no means guaranteed to stick.

The pro class had a little post-haste pow-wow and decided that the threat of rain was…well…threatening, so decided to ditch motos two and three and run the main at the top of the order going into second round. Of course, having just arrived on-scene, I was not clued into that until I noticed no pros gated up for third round. Thus, the final feet of the second lap, when Justin Riddell put the mega move on Andres Holguin in the last turn to win it held a special significance. Jon Jon Rapp was on the right-step for the second day in a row…nice work for a new pro card holder.

In the semis-to-mains break in the action, attention turned to the finish line as ABA past-president Clayton John made a special appearance to honor Imagination Glen/Steel Wheels BMX Track Operator Jackie Altizer. If you go to a lot of nationals, you’ll recognize Jackie’s smiling face as you pick up the weekend’s T-Shirt at racewear in many cities. But we, in the Chicagoland scene, know her as our tireless TO who, along with an all-pro crew of dedicated volunteers, dodge-and-weave the Midwest weather from the outdoor to the indoor (sometimes in the same day :) ). Taking off my “business” bandanna, and putting on my BMX Dad hat for a moment, it really is a rare gift that we enjoy in the Tri-State (Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin) area. Year-round racing, even when the lake-effect snow is measured in meters, and 20-ton snow plows are doing 360s on I-94 (as on “Young Guns Challenge” day in 010). We love you Jackie, Ken, et. al!

The rain held off in such a fashion that we were getting pretty cocky about the fact we were going to get the whole thing done in-the-dry…”glad that RAIN held off” was a common replacement for “what’s up?” around the fenceline. Well, the object lesson is “don’t tempt Mother Nature.” Literally, as the first main event gate dropped, the sky-drip started.

It wasn’t a torrent, but just enough to make shooting uncomfortable (poor me), and a few riders to ditch the fogged-up goggles on the hill. Somehow, we all soldiered on :)

The girls classes had some serious “it ain’t over til it’s over” finish line action. Brelyn Swendseid came a micro-knobby away from shoplifting 15G out of the clutches of Shay Glynn at the stripe, but Shay kept her at bay for the win. Then, in 16G, Courtney Purcell put the hurt on Sam Brown just as Dan Rumple made the call. And in the next gate, Tori Hopperdietzel applied the afterburners just in time to best Michele Patterson out of a double. The Grasshopper also doubled up in Cruiser on the weekend for Extreme Team.

One thing I love about National BMX Racing is the fact that from five and under to 41-over, there is riveting racing to revel in. Six expert was a great example of that today, as Liam Elo had a commanding lead from the gate to turn two, when the Jedi, Zak Miller, came a callin. Saturday’s third place was not allowed to repeat, as Miller took the lead just out of turn two, and went wee, wee, weeeee, all the way home (or whatever sound little ‘Monkeys make when they are going all the way home). Elo ended up with the deuce, and it was Texan Kiel Ross for the third.

And that was only the fifth age class gate to fall. Plenty of pushin the limits to come, as it would turn out.

Jump it a few classes, to 8x, and it was on like Donkey Kong between day one topper, Kiegen Perlberg on the Mike’s Bikes Redline ride, and Kohl Piluso in the Hyper colors. Piluso scooted in for a Saturday second, and was not looking to go home with a double deuce. Perlberg led it once again til the final feet, when Kohl mounted a charge and edged past at the stripe. Third and fourth was a deja vu, with Nate Coyman and The G-Man, Gavin Freewalt rounding out the top four. Speaking of “The President,” Coyman also doubled up in 8 Cruiser for the weekend.

Over in 9x and 9C, it was all about Young Gun, Nathan Davids, who scarfed up a Double Double (if you’ll excuse the West Coast caloric reference in this Midwest context).

Bringin’ the heat in 14x, Ryan Zinzow, once again jumped out to an early lead, but Justin Knapper was not about to leave it at that. Out of turn one, he was on-the-gas-to-pass Ryan, and thundered down the second straight with a stretched-out lead, which stuck.

Cooley and Ceslok battled in 15x, with DC getting the day one win, and Big B taking it wire to wire for the day two honors. Chalk up a double for B in 15C as well.

No fight to the front in 16x on Sunday, as Tyler Whitfield put a solid showing in and took it to em for the double-double. But the intrigue isn’t always at the front, as demonstrated by Layne Gainer in the last turn. Hootman was running second to TyWhit, and took the prime line–when on the high-side, Gainer scooped over him and into the two-spot. That was a manly move, considering the carnage seen in that turn through the semis in many-a-class.

Posey posted another win on Sunday in 17-18x. And as to the historical backstory we promised you from yesterday’s report…it was actually a national at The Hill in Elgin, IL about eight years ago that was the thing. It was the 9x main, and seems some joker took that opportunity to holler out “Justin…your tire’s flat” just as the cadence was started. JP did what any nine-year-old would do, and looked down to see what was up….SMACK! went the gate, and all the other guys got out with gusto. I guess that is the BMX equivalent of “Hey, your shoelaces are untied!”–which, of course, is something you only need to learn once. Notwithstanding lessons previously learned, all hecklers were silent on this trip to Chicagoland, and Justin did what Justin does.

If 16x was the nail-biter on Saturday, that designation was firmly held by the 19-27-exers on Sunday. Tony Favata was large and in charge, in true Wrecking Crew fashion down the first straight, and deep into the second…Egdorf was in tucked into the two-spot, if temporarily, and Chase Hines was scanning for some daylight in third. Max made a dramatic move to the outside entering the turn, and we could see a hi-low to glory from a mile away…but the “scanning” that Chase was doing was on radar-lock, and he made the move of the day, going from third to first to come out of turn two on top. For those following at home, mark your scorecards with Max in for the two and Tony for the tre.

The 404 crew was in full effect in 28-25x, and Charlie Hunt was not going to chill with Pats 605 flier Mike Weatherford doing a double on him. Great lap for the Morphine machine, and always good “english” on the bike, making for some prime photos.

Of course 404/ATL cannot be invoked without some due given to 36-40x. Doran Bradshaw doubled up in 36-40 Cruiser, but turned an off-podium fourth in class on day one. As different as the weather was between the two days, so, too, was DB100′s mojo in Sunday’s class main. Dude got it to the front and led it to a nothing-but-daylight trip for the 36-40 win. Long-time legend, Shan Hatfield scooted in for second, and Day One champ Pedro Brown was on the right step.

By the 41-over Ex main, the rain had stopped again, and the sun was making an effort to poke through the thick blanket of upper-strata-blah. Scott Moreland was, again, at max wattage to close it out with a Dan’s Comp double double…but not without an early challenge in Sunday’s class main by holeshotter, Jim Wahl. Wahl was second on Saturday and suffered a small serving of Sunday smackdown by Frank Nuccio who took the day-two-deuce.

(ok to exhale now…)

The crowd was out of the parking lot in a tidy three-hours-and-58-minutes, and headed to nearby MDW or ORD on the flyaway…and some to a local big-box store to snack-up for a double-digit Interstate date. “See you in Chula?” was the goodbye of the day (yes, by the way), and we were home and tuned in to the dreadful Bears game in time for the second half. A profound reminder of why it is so much more enjoyable to watch BMX Racing than mainstream sports. Each gate, you have a new opportunity to root for your favorite “player.” When will the world wake up?

Check out Sunday’s Photo Gallery!

A Dreamy Day of Racing at Imagination Glen

September 17, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Story and photos of ABA Hoosier Nationals Day One

Day one of the 2011 ABA Hoosier Nationals was everything a national should be: a fun, approachable track, solid “name-brand” competition in lots of classes, a moto count that easily passed the “Goldilocks Test” (not too high, not too low…just right), and a dynamite, in-the-high-60s, sunny fall day in Chicagoland.

No UCI racing at this one, but we had a rack of five A Pros, who raced hard and gave the fans four impressive efforts to hoot and holler about. Olijuwan Davis looked like he’d be the top money man heading out of the three moto rounds, having aced every trip, but it was Floridian, Justin Riddell (who recently signed with the DFR pro squad) that was in command wire to wire come main time. OD was in for the deuce, and Jon Jon Rapp was on the podium with a well-raced third.

I have to admit, there were some names at the Hoosiers that I did not expect to see. The winner of the “first seen” award goes to Carly Dyar, as she and dad Rinny were in my sights within five steps of the Newsmobile. Then, all of the sudden it was Shay Glynn, Justin Posey, Chase Hines, Max Egdorf, Ethan and Avery Moore from AZ, Jerry Bradford, with West Coast Hyper hotshoes Pistol Pete Choat and Kohl Piluso all close at hand.

Imagination Glen just underwent a full rebuild. Billy A and his heavy hardware did a great job laying things down. Local talent was called in to assist on three freshly-paved turns, which flowed well…except for some unfortunate potholes that showed themselves in turn one. Blame it on the weather, as the temp has yo-yoed from 100+ to the low 50s, and popped out some of the surface. Everyone seemed to take it pretty much in stride, as all 136 motos had to race the same course. Paving do-over to come!

With 26 riders, 8x was the deepest class of the day, and our only set of quarterfinals in Portage. The talent was tall among these little guys, with local hero Gavin Freewalt hosting main men Kiegen Perlberg from MN, Kohl Piluso (fresh off a second at the worlds), “The President” Nathan Coyman, and Nashville star, Zach Jacobs, among others. In the main, Piluso had his Hyper a wheel in from of Bam-Bam Perlberg’s Supercross at the first jump, with Coyman on the outside, and the G-Man on the inside. After that, though, Bam-Bam muscled to the front, and bounced on home for a strong win, with Piluso, Coyman and Freewalt in trail.

Rewinding the tape a bit for some “Girl Talk,” 15G had 13 in the chutes, and Shay Glynn gave our camera the best “Profile” possible, as she engaged the warp drive to ace the day’s two laps. Lots of miles traveled in this class, with Shay’s hop from So. Cal, second place Brelyn Swendseid (Team) Storming in from South Dakota, and podium pal, New Yorker Rochelle Wooding gettin Rennen-Intense there for third.

Fresh off her sweet 16, Sam Brown was in her home area code, and looking strong for Felt, but it was Courtney Purcell that would put the pressure on and score the day’s high-hardware, with Sam-Wow in second and the tall-and-talented Megan “The Major” Pritchard joining the podium pleasantries.

In 17-27G, it was 26 year old #24, Michele Patterson bringin the heat to the teens to ace the place. The always-fast Tori Hopperdietzel was there for second, and Crankin Carly Dyar rustlin her Redline in for third.

Back to the Boyz, we got to give props to local Badd boy, Liam Elo, who aced up on a seven helmet main event in 6x.

News just had a chat about Pistol Pete Choat at the Interbike show last week, and the skinny is he’s barely lost a lap all season in the black and orange Hyper colors. Indiana seemed to agree with him, with another 7x win. This little guy casts a tall shadow, and he came to do business.

Exactly who was on the winning Rennen-Intense Factory Team Sheet is a mystery to us, but chances are good Devon Yeager’s winning trip in 10x was probably on it…he toasted the baker’s-dozen-plus-one decaders.

In 12x, it was Midwest Muscle versus Dynamite when the gate dropped. Nic Deters exploded out with the most-excellent Erik Meyer all over his chainstay. 1-2 for Nic and Eric, with the Skydive city’s favorite son John Jilbert in for the tre.

Yaaaaawn! Justin Richmond char-broiled 13x per usual. Pulse-quickening pedaling at 110% intensity, but nobody laid a glove on the Juice…and that was that.

Justin Knapper has been demolishing the comp lately, and he must be on some kind of raw-red-meat diet, with that beastly pull he’s got goin on. He laid down a perfect weekend at the NBL Grands in 14x, and dispensed with Jr. Devo today in the same fashion. A first round transfer today in class…but come main time, rockin Rockford local, Ryan Zinzow got his RPM to the front, and held the lead to the stripe.

Great to see Dylan Cooley back in full effect for the All-Tow Wrecking Crew. A spiff new team rig rolled in from points East, and he had command–though not without ever-present pressure in the person of Snap Factory’s Big B, Brandon Ceslok on his left rail.

The 16x main had us breathing into a brown paper bag to keep from passing out. Off-track pals Jacob Hootman and Tyler Whitfield were all business as they were grip-to-grip into turn one. Hootie was on the inside, and drifted a little high on Tyler, buzzing his back tire in the process, and high-siding into the asphalt. The rest of the pack was farther back, but in chase, and slammed into him at full power, all-but clearing the decks. David “Superman” Lujan used his magic powers to avoid the carnage, and get in for a second behind TyWhit.

Justin Posey was a green blur in 17-18x, and served up a heapin helpin of Southern Hospitality, Dan’s Comp style, at the Hoosiers. Word is JP has some history here in Portage, dating back to his days as a nine-year old, so we’ll get you the backstory on that in tomorrow’s report. Jake Sherbno and Jeremy Smith joined JP on the proverbial podium.

As staging was thinning out for the day, 36-40x was on-track. Some major thunder in this one, as Pedro Brown, SE Factory Boy, Shan Hatfield, Snap senior shredder E-Dub Elliott and smilin Doran Bradshaw hit hyper-sonic speeds down the first straight. Elliott blew up over the first jump, but was OK…as Brown and Hatfield continued the feud into the first turn. By the stripe, it was Pedro’s Star Products jersey on the top step, with Shan in for two and Kovachi killa, Jon Irvin in for the third.

The final gate had just as much wattage as the first, with Scott Moreland, Cornhusker Jim Wahl and local legend Frank Nuccio inking a solid podium in 41-over ex.

So, cool-runnings on Day One, with an out-of-the-parking-lot time of 3:25PM. Gotta love that ABA efficiency! First gate drops at the command of Bill Morris at 8AM sharp, where Rennen-Intense will take the parade lap as Factory Team winner, with Mike’s Bikes close behind as today’s Bike Shop Team winner. Keep it here on BMXNEWS tomorrow night for the final word…and follow BMXNOW on Twitter for as-they-happen updates from the infield.

—Mike Carruth

Check out the 150+ Photo Gallery from Saturday’s Race

On to Sunday’s Race Re-Cap and Photos!

P.S. As usual, a BIG thanks to Bill Curtin and the ABA backstage crew for getting us the results, post-haste. Without their help, you’d be staring at a blank page.