We’re proud to present Dirt Bike Magazine’s annual list of America’s top off-road riders. It isn’t meant to be a recap of the previous year as much as a snapshot of America’s talent pool, right now. We look at the riders competing in GNCC, WORCS, AMA Big 6, EnduroCross, AMA National Hare & Hound, AMA National Enduro, AMA Regional Hare Scramble, Full Gas Sprint Enduro, SCORE, BITD and other high-profile events. We give special weight to riders who cross venues with success–that’s the kind of flexibility it takes to be considered the top rider of a country as diverse as the U.S. And we give special consideration to riders who carry the stars and stripes into competition at the International Six Day Enduro. We debate, argue and confer with experts. When we arrive at a consensus, the top rider has his name engraved on the perpetual Caselli Cup, so named for Kurt Caselli, the rider who personified the very qualities that we respect most. We owe special thanks to the Dirt Bike contributors and extended staff who helped cover off-road racing in 2018 as well as AMA Off-Road Racing Coordinator Erek Kudla, who helped make many of these races possible. The envelopes, please.
1 KAILUB RUSSELL
GNCC XC1 CHAMPION, BIG 6 #8, 450 MX #40
Any rider who hopes to have his name on the top of this list has to go through Kailub Russell. This year, once again, there was no one who could match KR’s achievements. GNCC is widely considered the most competitive single venue in America, and Kailub Russell is the best rider that sport as ever seen. As if his XC1 championship wasn’t enough, Kailub traveled outside his comfort zone to compete in unfamiliar ground in 2018. He earned a podium finish in a Big 6 GP out west, and then tried his hand in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship, where he ran with the fastest motocross riders in the world. If there’s anyone who truly can do it all, it’s Kailub Russell.
2 TAYLOR ROBERT
ISDE GOLD, AMA NATIONAL H&H #6, WORCS #3
Taylor Robert didn’t win any championships in 2018. He did, however, win more national races than anyone on this list. His planned season of competing in WORCS and AMA National Hare & Hound was cut short by injury. As soon as he was healed up enough to turn a throttle, he returned to his winning ways, then topped it off by winning the E2 class at the International Six-Day Enduro. When it was all over, he had achieved a truly remarkable season and once again proven that a healthy Taylor Robert is almost unbeatable.
3 STEWARD BAYLOR
AMA NATIONAL ENDURO CHAMPION, GNCC #3, ISDE GOLD, FULL GAS SPRINT ENDURO #2
Steward Baylor is America’s secret weapon. It seems that he always has a hidden reservoir of speed that he can dip into when the need arises. At the age of 24 he’s already earned three AMA National Enduro Titles–the first of which he earned when he was just 17. His accomplishments are already worthy of a full career, and you get the feeling that there are even greater things coming.
4 CODY WEBB
ENDUROCROSS #2, TKO WINNER, SUPERENDURO #1, AMA WHS WINNER
There’s no debate that Cody Webb is America’s best extreme off-road rider. What we love most about him is that he’s always trying to improve his game and expand his horizons. His 2018 season was interrupted by injury, but he still managed to win the European Superenduro Championship, ride the opening round of the WESS and even win the final round of the AMA West Hare Scramble series.
5 COLTON HAAKER
Colton Haaker has emerged to be America’s ultimate EnduroCross specialist. It’s as if that form of racing was specifically designed to suit his skillset–speed, precision and aggression. He’s certainly not opposed to trying other forms of competition, as he showed at Erzberg and the TKO. The Colton that we see at those events is a great rider. The Colton we see at EnduroCross is nothing short of brilliant.
6 THAD DUVALL
GNCC XC1 #2, AMA NATIONAL ENDURO #8
One year ago, it seemed that Thad Duvall was on the brink of unseating Kailub Russell at the top of America’s off-road pecking order. An injury at the ISDE put him on the sidelines late in the season, but he was riding exceptionally well. For 2018, he concentrated on both AMA National Enduro and GNCC competition, and had overall wins in both venues before being sidelined once again. A hand injury ended his season early. He still managed finish second in the XC1 class.
7 RYAN SIPES
ISDE GOLD, GNCC XC1 #15, FULL GAS SPRINT ENDURO #5, MXON, AFT SINGLES WINNER
Ryan Sipes earned the AMA Athlete of the Year award in 2018 for an incredible season of diversity. He won four rounds of the Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series, then put on smooth tires and won a round of the American Flat Track Singles series. He rode the Motocross of Nations under the flag of U.S. Territory Puerto Rico, then topped off his season with a gold medal for the U.S. Trophy Team at the ISDE. What a year!
8 BEN KELLEY
ISDE GOLD, XC2 #1, NATIONAL ENDURO #4
After spending much of the previous season injured, Ben Kelley had a breakthrough year in 2018. He won the GNCC XC2 class, finished fourth in the AMA National Enduro Series and still found time to win a round of NETRA Hare Scrambles back home in New England. Ben was a key member of the 2018 U.S. Junior Trophy Team at the ISDE in Chile, where he earned gold and helped put his team in second.
9 JOSH TOTH
ISDE GOLD, GNCC XC2 #2, AMA NATIONAL ENDURO #2
Josh is another rising star of the Northeast. He earned a position on the 2018 Red Bull KTM factory team and made good with six wins in the GNCC XC2 class as well as a win in the AMA National Enduro Series. A hand injury in GNCC Round three put only a slight hiccup in his otherwise spectacular season. At the ISDE in Chile, he finished fourth in the E1 class and earned a gold medal for the U.S. Junior Trophy Team.
10 GRANT BAYLOR
ISDE GOLD, GNCC XC1 #7, AMA NATIONAL ENDURO #3, FULL GAS SPRINT ENDURO #3
The Baylor Brothers prove that there’s a big genetic component in the ability to kick butt. Grant Baylor might not old enough to drink, but he has two GNCC XC2 championships to his credit and a long list of overall wins. In 2018, he won four AMA National Enduros, a Full Gas Sprint Enduro and finished as high as second overall in a GNCC. He was another member of America’s second-place Junior Trophy Team in Chile.
11 ZACH BELL
ISDE GOLD, WORCS #2, BIG 6 #2
Zach is still a relative newcomer to the world of off-road racing, but he’s learning fast. In 2018, he earned second place in each of the two biggest venues in the west: WORCS and Big 6. At the end of the year, he was thrown into the deep end of the pool by being selected for the U.S. Trophy Team at the ISDE. He made good with a gold medal. In 2019 he will be switching teams and riding for the Chaparral Kawasaki squad.
12 JOSH STRANG
GNCC XC1 #5, FULL GAS SPRINT ENDURO #1
Josh is still on a quest to regain the speed he had in 2010 when he was the fastest off-road rider in America. After 2018, he’s almost there. He won the highly competitive Full Gas Sprint Enduro series and has been knocking on Kailub Russell’s door in the GNCC XC1 class. He might have finished higher in the standings this year, but perhaps we’re bitter after he helped his home country Australia beat the U.S in the ISDE. For 2019, he will switch to the Babbitt Monster Energy Kawasaki team.
13 TREVOR STEWART
BIG 6 PRO CHAMPION
Watching Trevor Stewart emerge as a national off-road star has been fun for off-road fans out west. He always had style and flair that allowed him to stand out. Johnny Campbell saw it early and hired him to anchor the western branch of the JCR team. The move was rewarded with a Big 6 Pro championship.
14 KENDALL NORMAN
ISDE GOLD, NATIONAL H&H CHAMPION
Kendall has been around the block a few times in his career. After a lengthy hiatus, he returned to the spotlight in 2018 by winning two rounds of the AMA National Hare & Hound series, then going on to win the championship–something he last achieved in 2010. At the ISDE, he rode on a club team and earned another gold medal.
15 GIACOMO REDONDI
WORCS CHAMPION, BIG 6 #15
Italian off-road standout Giacomo Redondi came to the U.S. late in 2017 and immediately started making waves and turning heads. He put together his own program with very little stateside support, yet he managed to win a couple of very high-profile races–one in WORCS and another in Big 6. With iron consistency, he managed to turn that into a WORCS Pro class championship. Well done!
16 BLAYNE THOMPSON
BIG 6 #3, WORCS #9, 24 HOURS OF GLEN HELEN CO-WINNER
It’s been a year of recovery and rebuilding for Blayne Thompson. Despite nagging injuries, he turned 2018 into a successful year, improving each and every week. Now he’s finally 100 percent, riding for Kawasaki through the satellite Chaparral team.
17 CLAY HENGEVELD
BIG 6 PRO 2 #1, WORCS PRO2 #3, 24 HOURS OF GLEN HELEN CO-WINNER
In the west, Clay Hengeveld came into his own in 2018. Born into a racing family, he emerged with a Big 6 Pro 2 championship in 2018. He will represent the Chaparral Kawasaki off-road team in Big 6 and Sprint Hero racing in 2019.
18 TRYSTAN HART
AMA WEST HARE SCRAMBLE #1, ENDUROCROSS #11
Trystan Hart won several rounds of the AMA West Hare Scramble series and had excellent performances at the Last Dog Standing and the Tennessee Knockout before the EnduroCross season even started. Then he earned a stunning second place in round two of that series. It all unraveled in the next race, where he was injured and forced to sit out the remainder of the season. The good news was that he was able to coast in to the AMA West Hare Scramble championship despite missing the last two races.
19 TREVOR BOLLINGER
GNCC XC1 #4
Trevor is a legitimate contender in the GNCC XC1 class. That was put on display at the Tomahawk in Odessa, New York in 2018 when he finished right on Kailub Russell’s rear wheel after two hours of racing. In 2019, he will team up with Thad Duvall on the Rockstar Husqvarna team in GNCC racing.
20 DALTON SHIREY
BIG 6 #4, AMA NATIONAL H&H #4
Dalton has always had the speed to win, but he started the 2018 season rusty after dealing with injuries in the last half of 2017. In his final race of the year, he finally shook all that off and captured his first overall win in the AMA Hare & Hound series. That should be a great sign of things to come.
21 TY TREMAINE
The sudden shutdown of Alta motors caught most onlookers by surprise, especially after Ty Tremaine’s spectacular performances on the company’s Redshift electric bike. He made an EnduroCross podium, competed in Erzberg and had excellent performances in the Sprint Hero series. In 2019 he will be riding for the Beta factory team.
22 DANTE OLIVEIRA
ISDE GOLD, WORCS #8, BIG 6 #19, AMA WEST HARE SCRAMBLE #2
Dante Oliveira is another of the blazingly fast young riders coming of age in the west. After his 2017 Pro 2 championship, he moved up to the big boy class and landed on the podium by round three. He won two rounds of the AMA West Hare Scrambles series and there’s more to come.
23 NICK BURSON
AMA NATIONAL H&H #2, BIG 6 #10
Some riders win using gifts of speed and talent. Others work for it. Nick Burson is one of the hardest working off-road racers in America, and it paid of with yet another District 37 Desert number one plate and an AMA National Hare & Hound number two plate.
24 RICKY RUSSELL
GNCC XC1 #6
Ricky Russell is the centerpiece of the Ampro Yamaha GNCC team, and he always makes good. In 2018 he started off slowly, then was on the XC1 podium by round five. We still would love to see him branch out into other forms of racing.
25 CRAIG DELONG
GNCC XC2 #3, SPRINT ENDURO #9
Craig is a member of another racing family. He was one of the few riders to intrude on the Kelley/Toth private club in the GNCC XC2 class and he’s generally good for a top 10 finish overall from the second wave. He rode about half of the Sprint Enduro series and was in the top 10 at year’s end.