Story: Meg Blackburn
Photos: Levi Jones
In 2011, Kurt Caselli returned to his roots of desert racing when he committed to the National Hare & Hound series. Not only did he keep the competition on their toes, but he won the Championship. This year, Caselli committed to the series again to defend his title. The first of the 10-round series began in Lucerne Valley, California this weekend hosted by the Desert MC District 37 Club.
Weather for the weekend was scheduled for wind and rain, but unfortunately, only the wind delivered making it a tough Saturday to prep for Sunday’s big race. Wind’s were said to have picked up to a whopping 65mph at one point, which blew many of the course markings away and forced the club to postpone the start to 10:30 am, in order to dress it up again. As Saturday evening came and many of the riders showed, the Pro roster included Factory KTM’s Kurt Caselli, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Destry Abbott, Team Green’s Gary Sutherlin and Jacob Argubright, THR Precision’s Dave Pearson, GNCC rider Jimmy Jarrett, FMF/RPM/KTM’s Ivan Ramirez, Purvines Racing’s Nick Burson and his teammate Justin Morrow, JCR Honda rider David Kamo and many others, but Kendall Norman, did not make an appearance and in fact would not race on Sunday morning.
Sunday morning welcomed everyone with near perfect conditions and two 40-mile loops awaited the racers. Unlike Saturday, there was only a light breeze, so keeping the dust to a minimum was unlikely. The first line took off, and the sharp moving cloud of dust overwhelmed the valley. Caselli moved into the sand wash that sat past the bomb first followed by Pearson, Abbott, Kamo and Morrow. The course took the racers through rocky up-hills, sand washes, Cougar Buttes, ridges, tight twisty technical rock sections and valleys.
The second loop saw a change up of running order. Caselli maintained his first position, but Abbott who held a strong second, lost his rear breaks in the last 30-miles, forcing him to fourth where he worked hard to maintain his spot. Pearson moved forward with Kamo trailing behind. Argubright moved up and kept tight with Kamo, but just a few miles into the second loop, hit a rock that kicked him off his bike and forced him to retire from the race. Justin Morrow made the pass and Sutherlin, Ricky Russell, Skylar Howes, Matt Eddy and Axel Pearson crossed through the checkers, marking the first top 10 OA finishers of the season.
In the Women’s class, Nicole Bradford took the overall win and 2011 Women’s Champion and Blais Racing’s Shayla Fulfer took a hit during the race and was flown out to urgent care, thankfully to only be diagnosed with deep bruises.
A gentleman by the name of Lance Black, a Senior class rider and long time So Cal MC member, passed away during Sunday’s race. Offroad-Journal sends their deepest condolences to all those affected!
For more information, please head over to www.nationalharenadhound.com.