Jun 8, 2010

The Race Shop: 24-Hour Challenge, Perry Mountain

Photo courtesy of Kenny King

The Race Shop teams did excitingly well this past weekend at Perry Mountain's 9th Annual 24-Hour Challenge in Alabama. The Race Shop/Husaberg Elite Team (Mike Lafferty, Rick Lafferty, Nathan Wood, Nick Fahringer, Mike Grizzle and Robbie Jenks) took second place overall with 49 laps. Their best time was 16:24.328 in lap #46 and their best speed topped out at 43.888. It was an honor for the Husaberg Team racers to ride under The Race Shop banner and we loved spending time with them again.

James Embro and Mark Hutchison, photo courtesy Kenny King.

The Race Shop Duo Team consisted of owner James Embro and Race Shop team rider Mark Hutchison. Our duo team took 1st place in the Duo Class with 41 laps, their best time being 18:40.575 in lap #35 and their speed topped out at 38.552. 41 laps, 24 hours, 2 Guys, 1 Monsoon.
The 24-Hour Challenge started on Saturday at 10 a.m. with a LeMans start. We started out doing 30 - 33 minute laps and riding maybe an hour or hour and a half before pulling into the pit and switching riders. The Elite Team had 6 riders and used one bike, making the pit time crucial. The Duo Team had 2 riders and 2 bikes -- Hutchison and Embro got to use their own bikes. I think James Embro was riding his Husaberg 450. The Elite Team ran a Husaberg 450.

The Pit Team

We had Ben Hill, Stewart Houston and Josh Leigh helping in the pit. There's a lot of support going on in these races, people tracking the laps and scoring, notifying the pit crew when a bike's coming in, the pit crew checking gas, brakes, chains, cleaning the bikes and doing whatever instant repairs arise. It takes a whole team to win a race and The Race Shop is thankful for our great team. We had the support truck there, as usual, but had no serious bike problems and, thankfully, no serious injuries. A few falls, but no major damage.

The Race

The weather started out great, but hot. Humidity was high; the heat was really tough at first, a big factor in the competition. Around 4:30 the monsoon hit and the race shut down, everybody off the track. Elite teams were on lap 15; our duo team had done 13 laps at that point. This was probably the worst part of the whole trip. We didn't know for awhile if the whole race would be called off or not. We didn't know what the course would be like if we went back out. Those who were on a lap when the race was called would have to forfeit that lap and we thought that might raise a lot of protest during the scoring, but it didn't, everyone was gracious and calm.

The race resumed around 11:30 pm. The course was pretty brutal when we went back out, a lot rougher. A lot of it was cut out, re-routed around the impossible sections. What was left was sloppy mud. Those who've run the 24-Hour Challenge before pretty much know what to expect. Riders are allowed to walk the course before the race, but if you've been there before, this isn't necessary, it's basic hare scramble/enduro type course. But now, after the monsoon? It was a whole new ballgame. Nobody knew what to expect.

Our good friend Johnny Futo was riding the Ironman class. That's one man, one bike, 24 hours. There were around 60 in the Ironman and, very cool, about 5 in the Ironwoman class. Futo was also our cook and we ate like kings. We now call him The Race Shop's Celebrity Chef. Futo dropped out after the monsoon once he got all comfy and dry. The Ironman is just insane. There were some awesome riders out there in the Ironman.

Why We Did So Well

For Embro and Hutchison, always within 8 laps of the Elite Teams, there were some close competitors in the race. The 2nd place team -- "Mike Outdoors" (maybe Mike Woods?) was running neck and neck until darkness set in. Only one of their bikes had a light, so they had to share the one bike at the end. Since the race shut down at dark, we didn't have as much night racing as usual; only about 6 1/2 hours of night racing, the sun came up around 6 a.m. We had an advantage with our lighting system that most didn't have -- we replaced the stock light with an HID light from our friend Dale Mazorow at Trick Dual Sport. We have a history of riding with Dale out west in the Best in the Desert races. Dale also came to town and spent a few days with us, prepped our bike with the lights and stuck around for the race in case any lighting issues came up. No issues arose; those lighting kits are the best.

Besides the proper lights, other factors to do well in a race like this include proper hydration and nutrition (thanks, Futo!) and quality rest time -- mental preparation to get back out there as well as physical rest. Our experiences at Dakar taught us this.

The best part of the trip was probably when we realized we were going to win. At that moment of realization, the adrenaline kicks up a notch and the weariness disappears. And then, of course, many of our team would say the best part of the trip was the food.

The Winners.

It was a KTM team that won top spot overall, winning about 5 minutes before our team pulled in. KTM remains the most common bike in a race like this, but we're seeing more and more Husabergs out there each time we ride. House of Horsepower/Rekluse was #3 in the Elite. Winner of Open Expert was Husqvarna/Upstate Cycle/DirtySouthBoyz. Winner of 250 Expert was East Side Cycles. Valley Racing won winner of 40+. The Race Shop won the Duo. Dirt Bike Central won the Open Sportsmen. LACC Bayou Boyz took the 250 Sportsmen win. Appropriately, Wreckless Abandon took the 30+ Sportsmen win. The Top 3, in order, Open Ironman: Michael Goodman, Stephen Sturges, Devin Ferguson. Steve Gordon took the 250 Ironman win, Dusty Davis took the 40+ Ironman win and Luke Bartkiewicz won the 50+ Ironman. The Top 3, in order, for the Ironwoman are: Kaitlin Hagamaker, Hannah Roberts, and Kim DeLoach. You can see all the results with good details over at MyLaps.

What's next?

I'm hearing a lot of whispering about the Colorado 600 in July. I've yet to confirm that. The Best in the Desert's Vegas-To-Reno in August is almost always a must. I might stowaway in the Support Truck on one of those trips.

Big, big thanks to Kenny King's photography. If you're interested in photos of the event, click here to view Kenny King's photos. Thanks, Kenny, for the use of these photos.

Big thanks also to the folks at Perry Mountain and all the volunteers that make the 24-Hour Challenge a success.

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