Drama- a real-life event or situation that is particularly exciting or emotionally involving
The 2012 Ice Race Grand Championship had plenty of Drama;
A four hour drive from Davison to Cadillac locked in 4-wheel drive.
Savoring the Cadillac night life and the “M Bar”.
Alex Allen’s bike shutting off down the front straight while leading by ½ a straight.
Calob Blain winning two National Championships.
Jared Mees and Bryan Smith elbow to elbow in the Kold Kutter Shootouts.
These are just a few examples of the drama that unfolded. Winter came back for the weekend of the event that couldn’t be killed. I was honored to call out the names and present some of the awards to some pretty dramatic competitors. It was emotional for me to interview some of the youngest riders with their 2012 National Championship trophies. Imagine being eight years old and already having two titles under your belt. I bench raced with some of the fast guys and laughed while they tore up the dance floor like nobody was watching. I had to ration my voice for Sunday’s round as the racing only got better.
I mentioned to Patrick that I would like to give an award each day on behalf of Johnny Panther Quests for the most dramatic story. He said; “Go for it bro, whatever you think.” That’s like giving “LBL” a blank check, pretty dangerous. As it turned out, I wasn’t able to do it on race days; I was too absorbed in all the drama. Following is my recollection and homage to some of the best riders in the world. There’s not enough room to expound on it all, and I can only hope yer smiling as much as I did taking it all in!
Alex Allen has been a friend for years. It seems he and Steve Heinzelman have been trading championships when it comes to the modern vintage class. I called their race last year. It was a great battle, with Steve coming out on top. This year Alex was out for redemption and it showed. He was winning the main by half a straight when his bike shut off down the front stretch! He coasted into the snow bank and attempted to get her relit as he watched Steve win another one. I feel guilty now talking about how old their bikes are and all those moving parts whirling around. When I found Alex in the pits late that afternoon, he was all smiles. A true champion enjoying a beautiful day at the races rubbing elbows with his buddies. He has taught me many lessons, and his grace in the shadow of a championship losing DNF is one of the best!
On Sunday a young sprite (and I mean that in the most positive way) named Calob Blain reappeared. He smoked them on Saturday earning two championships. He won the 250B class looking like a flea on an elephant’s back. But what the 12 year old lacked in size, he made up for in ability and courage. Yup, Saturday was dramatic for him, but Sunday his luck changed as he stalled his bike on the start of the 250 Modified 4-stroke class. Barely able to push his bike off the line, let alone refire it, his day was over just like that. He won his heat race, starting from the second row; it was his to lose- drama.
The Kold Kutter Shootouts did not disappoint. Nichole Cheza won a heat race. Bryan Smith and Jared Mees put on a clinic. Bryan Bigelow was in there, but unable to make a run on Mees and Smith. I asked Jared if he was going to do anything different with the money on the line; he looked at me and smirked. B. Smith replied that it wouldn’t be any different; Mees knocked him down while riding on the local ponds too! There was a bump in the middle of turns 1 & 2 and Smith did it the hard way every lap trying to shorten the track up and get an inside line on Mees. Watching him almost flying “W” every lap and never back off was truly dramatic. I saw an image on www.speedpunksimages.com
of Nichole with both wheels off the ground in the same turn.
The inside story was Jared trying to make his bike run. It started running rough in the first practice, and quit running while in staging for the second. He brought his Daytona bike for parts if needed, and he and “The Professor” (Craig Pickett) tried in vain to find the intermittent electrical gremlin. When it was all said and done, they swapped all of his ice parts (suspension, wheels, and eventually subframe) and he rode his Daytona bike. He barely made the call for his heat race. They tuned and tweaked the rest of the afternoon, and Jared went out and won the bulk of the Kold Kutter Kash! Drama? You bet!
Honorable mention goes to the Myers brothers out of Midland, they were competitive all day. Craig “the Professor” Pickett was cool and calculating all day and dominated the 40+ class and easily won another ice championship to add to his resume. With age comes wisdom and he was quick to thank his wife Gina for standing beside him. Kyle Johnson won 2012 Ice Racer of the Year for the second year in a row and Nathan Gross won 2012 AMA Youth Ice Racer of the year.
As for me, well, I finished on the lead lap this year and didn’t embarrass myself too bad (on the track). It was a brutal, white knuckle ride up to William Mitchell State Park. But for me the drama really started as I rolled my bike into the “M” Bar team trailer and Craig asked; “Hey Lenny, where’s your rear fender?” DOH!
It was a logistically challenging event which was postponed and relocated due to less than favorable conditions (drama). Many thanks go to those who helped promote, support, and facilitate the 2012 Ice Race Grand Championships! Please try to support those who support us including:
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau
Martin Power Sports
Baja Acres and North American Action Sports
The 2012 Johnny Panther Quest Adventure Trips Drama Awards go to Alex “Iceman” Allen for Saturday’s rise to the top and coast to a stop. Sunday’s award goes to Calob “Too Tall” Blain for his coming from behind win in his heat and tragic stall on the line of his main. Both of these guys displayed outstanding sportsmanship and didn’t get lost in all the drama. Hopefully they will be able to join me for a little more drama Johnny Panthering this year out in the Flats!