2018 Music City Nationals race report
Memorial Day weekend is always chock-full of BMX action - all across the country, and this year the Music City Nationals was a 3-Day Natl weekend that included Round Six of the Pro Series. But being that the UCI Worlds were coming up in a couple of weeks, we'd soon see who wanted to stay home and train (and play it safe) and who wanted to race to train.
THE PRO CLASS:
The Chase twins - Joris and Connor were no-shows, while current No.2 Pro in the points (and reigning World Champ) Corben Sharrah was in the house and ready to gain some ground on Daudet's points lead. Among the other AA's in Nashville was Rift's Corey Reid - hot off of some Bakersfield Pro Open wins, and read to take home a bigger check. Haro's Nic Long was also present and accounted for, and hoping to pull off some of his old magic with an Olympic-style holeshot.
On Friday, it was all Corben Sharrah, with T-Bone Sebesta holding off Reid for the 2-spot. Sharrah was stoked and everybody - including us, figured he'd be a shoe-in for a weekend double. Well, everybody except the other seven guys in Saturday main.
Coming to Nashville, the Weather app on our phone was giving us threats of rain for the entire weekend - but that hadn't stop over 1,200 riders and their families from showing up. With its asphalt turns and slurried surface, everybody came to race rain or shine.
Up until the second round or motos on Saturday, we'd dodged any of that wet stuff - but with a huge rain cloud closing in, a little bit of rain was eventually inevitable.
RACING IN THE RAIN:
Pros were running on a schedule, which meant every 90 minutes, they'd be called to the gate. As luck (bad luck, that is) had it, the A-pro semis and all Pro finals would take place during the rainy, wettiest conditions of the day. But with the incredible, rain-proof Music City track surface, where workers were literally squeegee'ing off the track, the Pros weren't likely going to back off much when money and Pro points on the line.
A-PRO: Throdwn's Australian import, Hayden Fletcher, is no stranger to racing in these conditions and continued his win-streak on Saturday - backing up his Friday victory. Tyler Smith and Supercross' rookie Makieva Hopson rounded out the podium.
VET PRO: 4-time Vet No.1 Champion Cristian Becerine has owned the pink-slip to the Vet ranks for nearly half a decade - and the entire BMX community has been anticipating this weekend's match-up. Tyler Brown, just celebrating his 33rd birthday, would make Nashville his Vet Pro debut - and everybody in the know, knew that Becerine would suddenly have some tough competition from the "young one."
As we all expected, TB#316 made himself at home instantly and came out on top in nearly every moto match-up, and had Becerine's number in the mains. With just enough Pro races left in the season, the World's Fastest Track Operator could very well be in contention for the No.1 Vet title come November.
But if you know Cristian, he's not going to give it up easy. This match-up will be fun to watch the remainder of the year, when it all comes down Tulsa on Thanksgiving weekend. Keep in mind, an American has not held the No.1 Vet Pro title in SIX years - it's been Argentinians Colombo and Becereine since 2012.
WOMEN PRO: The "Will-o-Beast" was in true form this weekend, obviously prepped and ready for defending her World Champion title in Baku in two weeks. Haro's Brooke Crain and Powerlite's Felicia Stancil were both looking fast, but are still missing that extra gear need to beat The Beast. So far in 2018, Alise has not been beat - and she told us that her and Sam will be honeymooing in Italy after the Worlds, and won't be in Rockford this year. "I hate to miss The Rock. I love Rockford," she admitted. But I'm sure you'll agree that her and Sam deserve a lil' vacation.
THE MOST EXCITING MAIN OF THE YEAR:
While every Pro class was intense and thrilling, nothing could've prepared us for what was about to go down in Saturday AA-pro final. I'd even dare to say that in just 30 seconds, there was more excitement going down than what'll be in the seventh game of the NBA Finals ..or in the final five laps of the Indy 500 (hey, don't get mad - we're just a bit BMX biased here).
With rain coming down, the AA's lined up atop the Music City start-shack. The covered staging area and starting grid here is first-class (even with marble-top counters in the starter's booth). IN preparation for these conditions, the Music City crew even laid down a gritty blue paint down the ashpalt, to give these guys better traction. As all eight Pros fired out of the gate, that extra traction worked. Not one tire lost traction, and they were heading into the first turn as full speed.
Skying over the step-up into turn one, the following action went down. Thanks to James Pennucci photography, we've got the entire sequence to give you the play-by-play:
1. Much to everybody's surprise - especially Corben Sharrah's, Doublecross' Kenny G had the inside line into turn one, and proceeded to ride Corben to the top of the turn. Kenny had come out of lane 2, and had drag-raced Corben down Music City's high-speed first straight. He told us afterwards that he'd tucked in behind Sharrah when he literally sw some daylight on the inside and went for it.
Perhaps nobody was more surprised than Kenny G himself, as he'd been struggling with bike trouble all weekend, and was racing on a borrowed bike. "My V-brakes on my regular bike never really work that great, and the bike I was on had discs. I was not used to such touchy brakes," Kenny told us afterwards.
2. Meanwhile, in the race for third place, Rift-Tangent ripper Corey Reid lost traction in the rear and did an incredible job of flat-trackin' it at the top of turn one. Just look at his body english in this Pennucci shot and you'd think he'd be ready to hop on a Harley and hit the Sacramento mile.
The only problem was, Meybo's Zach VanKammen was coming in hot and headed staight toward the backend of Reid's Rift. You can see him bracing for impact in this pic, as Billy Russell dives low to avoid the carnage-to-be.
3. Meanwhile, as VanKammen slams Reid and Aussie main-maker Matt Krasevskis was head-on collision course with VanKammen, way down below on the track was New Zealand's fastest Kiwi - Olympic hopeful Trent Jones was in seventh place and had a clean line on the inside to avoid any entanglement with the carnage.
Remember that, folks - seventh place!
Way back in eigth, Throdwn's Cole Tesar was completely unclipped and struggling to get back in.
4. Menawhile, back up at the front of the pack, as the two leaders began to exit turn one, Kenny G had now ridden Corben all the way to the top of the white line. Sharrah, in an attempt to save himself from going over the top, unclips and sticks his left foot out - while still remaining in 2nd place.
Probably more amazing is the fact that flattracker Corey Reid saved it, straightened it out and was back on the throttle!
5. Friday winner Corben Sharrah had lost a ton of his momentum thanks to unclipping, and Kenny G was in a comfortable lead on his uncomfortable borrowed-bike. Hot on his tail, in Code-3 pursuit was Trent Jones (now in second place) and Kenny's Doublecross teammate, rookie pro Billy Russell. Through turn two, Corben had reeled them in and down through the rhythm, it looked t o be a race for second place.
Suddenly, Jones cut to the inside and made his last turn move - in the wet, asphalt turn. Would his Box tires hold? Was this a billiant move, or a Kamakazi mission? Kenny G says he could see him coming in quick on the inside.
6. It was a split second decision. Kenny was haulin' into the last turn and riding up high, with the blazing orange Box rider blasting down below. Incredibly, Jones' Box tread stuck to the wet turn like velcro, and he pulled off one of the cleanest moves we've seen in quite a while. Clean, gutsy and with zero contact!
7. Jones' pass was picture-perfect. It's one of the BMX 101 Instruction manual, under the Chapter on Taking Turns. For Kenny G, the thick white line at the top of turn three was getting closer, and with the rain, any good racer knew it'd be slick. Now, remember at the beginning of this sequence, when we told you about Kenny G's borrowed bike with disc brakes? Well, here is where that really comes into play.
8. One tap of the unfamiliar discs (well, maybe it was more like a handful than a "tap"), and Kenny's rearend suddenly whipped out on him like a novice Nascar driver. Suddenly, Kenny was slip-sliding 50-50 on top of the berm, grinding the coping as if he were Tony Hawk at the 1995 X-Games.
As Kenny, still clipped-in, continued slippin' atop the turn, his teammate Billy Russell slid on by for the 2nd place finish, while ...
9. We'd love to know what Corben Sharrah was thinking right here in this shot. They guy who might've made this a double-win weekend would wind up with a third, all thanks to some crazy first-turn action between he and the G-man.
We're sure that Corben hates to see any of his rivals crash out, but you also can't help but wonder if deep-down, Corben is saying "That's Karma."
10. WHEW! That's gotta be one of the wildest rides we've ever seen in AA-pro history! Even more wild than Mr.Toad's Wilde Ride at Disneyland! In the end, here is how they crossed the line:
- 1 TRENT JONES, BOX~THRILL, NEW ZEALAND
- 2 BILLY RUSSELL, DOUBLECROSS, DESOTO, TX
- 3 CORBEN SHARRAH, DAYLIGHT CYCLES, TUCSON, AZ
- 4 COREY REID, RIFT/TANGENT, TEMPE, AZ
- 5 COLE TESAR, THRODWN, HUNTERSVILLE, NC
- 6 KENNETH GUSTAFSON, DOUBLECROSS, PARKER, CO
- 7 ZACK VANKAMMEN, MEYBO/AVIAN/J & R, LAKE ELSINORE, CA
- 8 MATT KRASEVSKIS, J&R SPEEDCO AUSTRALIA, QLD
Typically named by top-ranked Amateurs and Pros as their all-time favorite track, Music City has a little bit of everything for all skill levels of riders. The famous first straightaway escalates quickly with speed and big air, and as you rock through the asphalt turns, the track becomes a fun-filled thrill ride of a roller coaster that you never want to end.