The State’s top cross country racers converged on the top of Crow Mountain, Sunday June 24th to race the Seventh Round of the Arkansas Hare Scramble Championship Series (AHSCS).
In the motorcycle AA class everyone knew it was sure to be a dramatic battle. Freegun, AXO, NWA Powersports Toole’d KX250 racer, Trent Keen from Fayetteville and Yamaha of Harrison racer, Eli Beischke from Harrison were set to challenge Fort Smith’s, Parker Nolen. Nolen is the 2011-defending champion but had missed a couple of early races. He had taken overall at the last two races. Those wins helped claw back the points deficit and he was four points behind Keen and one point behind Beischke going into this race. With the point chase this tight hot racing was sure to be in the air at the Black Bird race. This race would provide crucial points and momentum before the series takes a two month break and fall racing resumes.
No one had planned on hot summer weather arriving a month early. On race day temperatures were forecasted to climb into the triple digits. Sure enough the National Weather Service reporting station at Russellville a few miles away set a new record of 100 degrees. With no rain in several weeks the course conditions were severely dusty. With no breeze to move the dust it stayed up in the air in the woods and would only settle after large gaps between racers. Even with a flowing course, the visibility was sure to limit some racers. The only reprieve from the dust would be in several sections that crossed open fields.
On the AA class start Beischke got the hole shot and lead the race until a mistake on a turn and Nolen capitalized to take over the lead. Nolen’s lead wouldn’t last long though. Earlier that week he’d been battling jetting problems on his Yamaha 250F and had not been able to isolate the exact problem. So he was racing on borrowed a KTM two-stroke. Moments later the bike gave up and Beischke retook the lead and held a 30 second margin over the field for two more laps. As the heat and fatigue set in Beischke was enjoying his Camelbak in one of the field sections when Keen breezed by him. From there on he got to enjoy Keen’s dust and never caught back up.
After the race Keen said, “I heard and seen what I thought was Parker [Nolen] right after the timing check. I’m not sure if it was him or just my mind playing tricks, but this pressure behind me caused a large increase in speed, just in case it was Parker, I at least was going to try to keep my 2ndplace position. After several minutes of high speed travel I came on a large dust cloud leading out into one of the open field sections, and it was Eli! I cranked my KX wide open and tried beating Eli to the next corner after the straight! I used every bit of power the bike had to beat him to that corner. Without a massive dust cloud in front of me, I was able to draw a considerable gap on Eli for the next few laps.”
Beischke wasn’t out of the deal yet and at the end of the fifth lap he’d closed the gap down to 17 seconds. But in final lap he ran out of fuel within sight of the pits and was at risk of losing 2nd place. When asked how he still managed to hold his 2nd place he said, “I knew better to fuel up since there were several wide open sections but I didn’t and luckily I could see the pits when my YZ ran dry. So I jumped off and pushed with any remaining energy I had and then got help from a fellow racer who pushed me the final bit as I was yelling at my pit crew to open my gas. I got enough gas in to start and go back to the last section to get scored and luckily still held onto 2nd place!” His quick thinking and effort allowed him to still hold a five minute margin over Honda mounted 3rd place finisher, Bryce Hartman of Waxahachie, Texas who rounded out the AA Class podium.
On dealing with the hot weather Keen may have had an advantage. “I’ve been working in 100+ temperatures for over three weeks, so that didn’t affect me too much, and in those kind of temps hydration is a must. The dust on the other hand was a little harder, my nose would get clogged so I just blew it inside my helmet, and as far as vision, I would either have to fight through it and pass the person that was creating it or slow down a notch and let it clear.”
Despite the heat, race promoter Jake Oels seemed pleased with the turnout and the course. “I was out on the track a lot trying to catch the fast guys come through. I saw a lot of action, everyone was flying. I kept thinking wow this is an awesome track while forgetting that it was my track!”
Keen now holds the AA class points lead and has been mentioned already as a candidate for the series most improved rider award. His plan for the summer? “Well I guess I’m going to try to mix luck with a lot of practice, seat time, and conditioning, and possibly a new top end. After the dust bowl the bike is lacking in compression.” Beischke trailing by three points in the AA class has a similar goal. “I plan to ride and train over our summer break to get into better shape and learn to ride my YZ250 two-stroke better since I’ve raced YZ250F’s since 2001. I just need to get some of my endurance back or some of the energy from Trent and Parker! I want to thank Yamaha of Harrison, Fly Racing, and Scott goggles for their continued support.”
Series action will return to one of the favorite courses September 1st and 2nd at the Boston Mountain race in northwest Arkansas. The two month break in racing will give series competitors time to escape the heat, mend their bikes and train for the fall.
Top 10 Overall
1 14 Trent Keen Fayetteville, AR KAW AA
2 21 Eli Bieschke Harrison, AR YAM AA
3 18 Bryce Hartman, Waxahachie, TX HON AA
4 77 Jake Hines, Little Rock, AR YAM A Open
5 60 Justin Riley Springdale, AR YAM A Open
6 6 Zachary Crowl Batesville, AR KTM A Vet
7 155 Ron Mooney, Sheridan, AR KTM A Sr
8 151 Flip Kindberg, Bentonville, AR YAM A Sr
9 167 Layne Smith, Russellville, AR KTM A Sr
10 371 Trey Bryan, Lonoke, AR YAM B Sr
About the Arkansas Hare Scramble Championship Series:
The Arkansas Hare Scramble Championship Series is a family friendly racing organization that boasts over 145 active racers, with eleven events on the 2012 calendar. Racers compete in thirteen big bike class divisions, six ATV class divisions, seven youth divisions and two women’s classes. This is a grueling form of racing that tests rider and machine as they take on the course through tight woods and over steep terrain filled with roots, rocks and other obstacles.