The 2015 BMX season came to an end this weekend in Tulsa, OK, and although they weren’t serving up Grandma’s home cooking, there is no place team Redline would rather be for the Thanksgiving holiday than the River Spirit Expo for the Greatest Race on Earth, the USABMX Grand Nationals! With 572 motos for the Race of Champions (ROC), and the Grands moto count up over 740, it was definitely the largest BMX race ever held, and it produced all of the thrills and spills we have come to expect when national titles, eight foot trophies, and a lifetime of bragging rights are on the line! It was an unbelievable weekend for the Redline squad…so much so that they had to borrow a wheelbarrow to get all of their hardware and winnings out to the car. Without further ado, let’s get to the rider performance recap!
Always a fan favorite, especially to the huge crowd of Minnesotans in the house, she rode a nearly flawless weekend, winning a ton of laps by a large margin. Not only did Alise take home her record-tying EIGHTH National #1 title cup (tied with Eric Rupe), she also picked up the Golden Crank Award for “Pro of the Year,” which is voted on by USABMX members.
Sam Willoughby, the three-time USABMX Pro Champion and undoubtedly the most dominant pro in the business for the past six years, came to Tulsa on a mission to regain the title that slipped through his fingers in 2014. In a virtual tie with the Chase Bicycles duo of Olympians, Conner Fields (USA) and Joris Daudet (France), Sam would have to ride near perfect laps to pull it off. In Friday’s Race of Champions, all three title contenders made the finals and finished on the podium, with Conner edging out the group for the win, and Sam and Joris following for second and third, respectively. With the Grands being double points, the chase was still tight enough that they would all remain tied, and year end numbers would go in the order that they finish on the day.
After all three advanced into the Pro Spectacular night show, their first lap of the evening would be the “top four move on to the big show, bottom four go home,” eight-man semi. The pressure cooker was on full-throttle, but again, all three riders advanced into the final, setting the stage for a three-way battle for the title! The first two of the three finals went the same: Joris in for the win, followed by Conner in second, and Sam in third. That left a monumental task for Sam in the third main, with the points tally being two (Joris), four (Conner), and six (Sam). To win overall, Sam would have to win the third main, with Conner finishing third or worse and Joris finishing at least fifth.
As the gate dropped, Joris shot out front, with Sam in second, pushing it hard to catch up, and Conner stuck back in the pack. In a great show of consistency, Joris held on to win the third main, which made it a clean sweep and earned him the 2015 #1 USABMX Pro title. Sam finished second for the day, so he earned the number two year-end award, and Conner finished third for the day and third for the year as well. It was an exciting evening with three riders locked in a tie, facing off for the championship. Congrats to Joris on his performance and the title, and to Sam and Conner for a year of great racing that kept the crowd on their feet. Leading into an Olympic year, we have a feeling that the battles are only going to get more intense.
Fresh Redline-France pick-up, Sylvain Andre, came all the way from Cavaillon to get in some winter racing and follow-up on his huge USABMX Gator Nationals win in Oldsmar, FL in October. At the ROC, Sylvain ran into some bad luck in the final turn during the semi and was unable to transfer out. He came roaring back on Saturday to make the stacked Grands final where he finished with a hard fought seventh place finish. We hope to see Sylvain hitting up some events in the States in 2016, but more importantly, we hope to see him representing France and Redline in Rio!
The Redline A-Pro team of Collin Hudson and Hunter Pelham showed up in Tulsa looking as fast as we’ve ever seen them! With sixty-five riders and one-eighth finals in A-Pro, they were both going to have to be on their toes to get into the main event. After winning motos and easily transferring into Friday’s ROC semi-final, trouble finally came calling and neither were able to make it through to the main.
In Saturday’s Grands race, they got back into the groove and easily marched through the motos, one-eighth finals, quarter finals, and into the night show for the semi. Hunter’s night ended with a hard first-straight slam in the semi, but Collin went on to make the main. In the first main, Collin snapped out into the lead from way out in no-man’s land (lane eight) and never looked back, taking a big win. A third place in the second main left him tied for the overall win going into the third and final race. Collin had a great race going and battled up front with the leaders, but a dive-bomber in turn two took down the top three riders! Luckily, Collin was able to scramble to the line and salvage a good enough score to get second place overall. It was disappointing for Collin with a Grands win narrowly slipping away, but still a gutsy, impressive performance for the kid from Colorado. They didn’t get the ROC and Grands finishes they came for, but both Collin and Hunter rode great and impressed the crowd with mad pull and fresh style!
The Arizona legend and former ROC Champion and National #1 Cruiser rider, “Gorgeous” George Goodall, is always a sure bet for a solid Grands performance, and this year was no different! The older Expert and Cruiser classes produce some of the largest, most competitive groups at the Grands, so it’s tough sledding. George finished his year with ROC finishes of fourth (Expert) and fifth (Cruiser), and a sixth place Expert finish at the Grands! He goes into 2016 ranked National Age Group (NAG) #7 in Cruiser, and NAG #4 in Expert. Great season, Gorgeous!
Capping off the highlights is the guy who spends his year in the Redline rig, crisscrossing the highways and byways of America hitting USABMX nationals and bringing the Redline Flight School to local tracks near and far, Team Manager Jason Carnes. Jason came into the Grands leading NAG points in both 41-45 Cruiser and Expert, and only two points back from the leader in the overall National #1 Cruiser chase. Since points leader Jud Ciancio was in a class with six more riders (46-50 Cruiser), it would take a win by Carnes and a finish of second or worse for Jud to give our TM the Cruiser title. Coming from lane eight in the final, the 345 bike of Carnes shot out front and narrowly got around the elbow of eventual second place finisher, Jim Nelson, in the first turn. From there he rode a beautiful lap to capture his first Grands win in ten years!
A second place finish by Jud Ciancio gave Carnes the overall National #1 Cruiser title and brings his Championship cup-count to seven, just one behind Alise and “Big Daddy” Eric Rupe. In the Expert main, Carnes drew lane seven and gave the outside another good run, shooting out front. A few mistakes by the TM and a flawless lap by Raul Gomez was enough for Gomez to make a great third-straight pass and left Carnes to settle for a second place finish on the day. After the points were tallied, Carnes managed to hold onto the #1 NAG plate by a mere three points! It doesn’t get much closer!
With 2015 in the books and eyes already focusing on a monumental 2016, we have to take a minute to honor the team for an unbelievable season! All of their hard work and sacrifice certainly doesn’t go unnoticed, and it is much appreciated! Also, thanks to our many sponsors: Box, Promax, FastSigns Goodyear, Tioga, KMC, Alienation, and Kool Stop, as well as USABMX and the UCI for their great race series! Last, but certainly not least, thank you to the thousands of loyal Redline riders and independent bike dealers that make it possible for us to carry on our winning tradition!
We are proud to bring home a USABMX National #1 Women’s Pro title, “Pro of the Year” Golden Crank Award, and UCI World #8 with Alise, a USABMX National #2 Elite Men finish and UCI World #7 plate with Sam, and the USABMX #1 Cruiser and Expert NAG title with Carnes! We wish everyone a safe holiday season and prosperous 2016! It all starts with a Redline!
Photos: Nick Campbell