Darrell delighted, Eichner abbreviated, Schell second. Look for full race photos in the August issue of Dirt Wheels, coming soon!
Even as Doug Gust continues his ruthless domination of the Pro ranks in the various Nationals back east, the west coast hasn't been exactly idle. The roar of quads filled the air at Glen Helen, near San Bernardino, California, for the somewhat archaic-named White Bros. Four Stroke National. Archaic in that just about everyone rides a four stroke now. Hmm, maybe there will be a two-stroke National series soon? That would be cool. But we digress. The race action was great, White Bros. always puts on a fantastic event, and the action had plenty of drama.
The White Bros. Four Stroke National and similar races such as the ITP Quadcross series give racers who donít have the financial ability to campaign a full National series to strut their stuff for potential sponsors, hone their skills and make a little purse money too. Sure, lots of lesser known locals show up, but at the WB event, Doug Eichner was on hand riding his Duncan-powered Honda TRX450R, desert ace Greg Stuart on a Kawasaki KFX450, Darrell Patton on a Racerís Edge/Big Gun YFZ450, Mike Cafro on his Temecula Motorsports/Roll/Maxxis YFZ450 and Jeremy Schell on a Duncan KFX450 just to name a few. Thatís tough competition by anyoneís standard.
The usual dusty and dry Glen Helen track was uncharacteristically wet due to some early morning rain showers. Tire choice would be as important as power this day. "Iím running ITP 20ís up front and ITP 18ís in back," said Schell. Further was the fact that many classes of motorcycles would be chewing up the track and making it extremely rutted as the day wore on. Glen Helen was going to be tough, as usual. There are no "Gimmeís" here. "The track is kind of one-line right now," said Eichner. "Hopefully theyíll smooth it out some. Iíve got ITP Holeshots on all four corners." And the Honda? "Weíve tweaked it a bit, a little bigger cam and a high-compression piston."
The pro quads lined up for the first moto of six laps with Doug Eichner on the innermost (and shortest) line to the wide, sweeping Talladega first turn. His was just about the only Honda on the line amidst a sea of YFZs. (Cody Roberts and Lance Hallsworth were the only other pros on TRX450Rs.) When the gate dropped, it was Dustin Nelson with the holeshot. Eichner got pinched on the inside of Talladega and stalled his Honda. By the time he restarted he was dead last. Nelson and Schell were dicing for the lead, with Greg Stuart also in the mix. Meanwhile, Eichner was slashing through the pack like a ravenous wolf through a herd of deer. He picked off rider after rider, and by the third lap was sitting in third place. Incredible. Then, disaster struck. In the smaller whooped-out straight, his engine grenaded.
Frustration isnít a strong enough word for how Eichner was feeling as he retired for the day, unable to continue.
Doug wasnít the only one to get engine gremlins. A gasp went up from the crowd as Greg Stuartís KFX400 suddenly exploded on the fearsome downhill section of "Mount St. Helens." Trailing a huge plume of white smoke as he careened down the hill, Stuart looked like a fighter plane going down in flames after losing a dogfight. Greg had been hampered earlier when his seat came off mid-race, but had been jamming all-out regardless. The ruined engine put him out of the race entirely, and he joined Eichner on the sidelines. At least he wasnít alone in his disappointment.
After several lead changes of Mike Machado, Jim Pylman, Dustin Nelson and Jeremy Schell, it was YFZ450-mounted Darrell Patton who took the checkered flag at the end of moto one. An ecstatic Patton raised both fists into the air in exultation as he crossed the finish line jump, well ahead of Jeremy Schell and Dustin Nelson. "I didnít get the start I wanted, but I went wide and stayed on the gas," said Darrell. "I felt like I had so much power from my Racerís Edge engine, I was pulling on Dustin and Schell up the hill. My tires helped there too, Kenda Knarlys in back and Klaws in front. I finally took the lead from Dustin in the back sweeper, we bumped and I almost crashed, but I held on. I just tried to ride my own race and not think about the rest of the pack, and it worked."
The stage was set for a showdown in moto two. Nelson and Schell knew that the overall was within their reach. The pressure was on Patton as the gate dropped on moto two. This time it was Rickey Nickell with the holeshot, with Darrell and Jeremy close behind. Nelsonís YFZ450 is stock except for a Two Bros. pipe, by the way. The crowd went to their feet as the lead changed again and again. Darrell swooped Nelson for the lead. Then Jeremy took over in a daring pass. Then back to Patton, and back again to Schell. With Nelson fading, the two men knew that the overall all rested on who could outlast the other on the now-rutted and whooped-out Glen Helen track.
The rough course took its toll on both riders, but it was Jeremy who started to fade first. Darrell managed to take over the lead for good and started to pull on the Duncan-powered Kawi. Schell could only continue to ride as hard as he could and hope that Patton made a mistake. It wasnít to be, as Patton rode a brilliant race and ended up with a 1-1 finish to the National. Jeremy took the two spot, Rickey Nickell third and Dustin Nelson was fourth, which is even more respectable when one realizes that he was riding with a severely sore shoulder from a get-off a couple of weeks ago.
"Jeremy was pushing hard, he was on me the whole race," said Darrell from the podium. "It came down to who could hold on, who had the most heart and wanted it the most. He beat me at the ITP Quadcross here a few weeks ago, and I couldnít get that out of my head. When I saw Jeremy make a few mistakes I knew I had to attack right then. My bike is almost stock, it was all rider and all heart."
Congrats to Darrell Patton on his victory. Something tells us heíll be even hungrier to keep winning now, and maybe heíll pick up a few new sponsors too. And Jeremy is sure to want to turn the tables. Stay tuned.
1. Darrell Patton, YFZ450, The Racerís Edge/Duncan/Big Gun
2. Jeremy Schell, KFX400, Kawasaki/Duncan/IMS/ITP
3. Dustin Nelson, YFZ450
4. Danny Ragan, YFZ450, Temecula Motorsports/Elka/Roll
5. Mike Machado, YFZ450
6. Johnny Shafe, YFZ450
7. Tony Munio, YFZ450
8. Michael Cafro, Temecula Motorsports/Roll/Maxxis
9. Jeffrey Spooner, YFZ450
10. Jim Pylman, YFZ450