Destry 2008 AMA H&H Champion (race story)

Wendover, Nevada
August 16, 2008

Race Day:
My goal going into this race was to just ride smart, and stay safe, before I leave to Greece. I had the championship on the line, and I knew I could wrap it up early before the last round. I was really hoping I could do this and not have to worry about it while I was in Greece (I just needed a top 5). I walked the start a lot (since we couldn’t ride it) and felt confident with my spot. When the banner fell I had a great jump and thought I had it, but David Kamo beat me to my line and I had to back off. As soon as I did this, I had guys blowing by me. By the time I got to the first corner I was in 6th, but made a couple quick passes and got into 4th. The first loop was almost 100 miles with some alternate gas stops. I felt really good, and it definitely didn’t feel like I had a championship on the line. The biggest problem was the course was really fast and rocky (and the dust was really bad). I knew it was going to be hard to pass, so I decided to stay out of the dust and just ride my own race. About 40-miles in, we had our first pit-stop. I was still in fourth with Russ leading, David Kamo second, and Josh in third. The first part was pretty much all jeep roads, and it reminded me of racing the Best in the Desert races. The next section we raced through had a lot of sand-washes that seemed to have a lot of hidden rocks. I had a few close calls, and just wasn’t feeling real confident with the terrain. We stopped and pitted again (around 85-miles) and Russ was still leading, but Josh was only 15-seconds back and then it was Kamo. Now it was 20 or so miles back, to the main pits, before the last loop. With about 5-miles left in this loop I saw a lady on a quad waving her hands frantically, and then I saw Josh laying on the ground. This area was really fast, on some fire roads, and it had some big j-outs. He must’ve hit it in the dust, or just didn’t see it, and went flying over the bars. The lady told me Kamo had stopped and then went on to the pits to let them know. I tried talking to him, but knew he was in bad shape! He didn’t look good and I‘ve never seen anyone this bad and was worried! I saw the highway was to the right of us (½ mile away) and told her I was going to ride to the highway to see if I could get some help. As I was trying to get there, as fast as I could, I hit a rock and barely saved a big crash. When I got there, there were no cars coming and I was trying to figure out if I should pin it down the road to the last pit. Then I saw a car coming, and it seemed like it was taking forever. As the car got closer I was waving it to stop, but as soon as they got close they pinned it past me (they were afraid to stop and I was pissed). A couple minutes later another car came and they stopped. I told them to call 911 and make sure they send an airvac. They did, so I took off back to Josh. I got back, and put my bike down, and just tried to clean up Josh’s face and see how he was doing. I didn’t want to move him and felt so helpless. Finally TJ was coming (he was about 7-minutes behind me) and I waved him down to make sure they told him he needs an airvac right now! I went back and sat there for a little bit, but he was still out and not sounding good. The lady that stayed with him was awesome, and I can’t say enough about her helping out. After a few minutes, I said I’m just going to go to the pits and get help. As the course turned, I just kept going straight and then I saw a truck coming. I stopped it and realized they were the EMT’s. I told them he was just on the other side of the road, and to call an airvac asap. I ended up heading back to the course and following it into the pits. At this point I didn’t even want to race, but I knew what was on the line. I got to the pits, and shut my motor off, and they told me everything was taken care of. So I took off for the last 30-miles, but I just couldn’t ride and basically rode about 70%. All I could think about was Josh and this race getting over. The last loop actually had some fun sections, but it was hard to enjoy. Finally I saw the finish and was happy it was over. When I got there, we didn’t do any type of celebration, because we decided now wasn’t the time. I just rode back to the pits and that was about it.
Overall Summary:
It really feels great to get my fifth national championship, but it was a scary day. I really thought it was awesome the club put on such a long race (130-miles), but I wasn’t a big fan of most of the race. It was really fast and had a lot of scary stuff. If they ran us up in the hills more it would’ve been a lot better, but I’m sure they only have a certain amount of room they can use.

1st Russ Pearson
2nd David Kamo
3rd TJ Hannifin
4th Destry Abbott

2008 AMA H&H Champion!!!

Other Notes:
As of right now, Josh is in Salt Lake City in an induced coma. They want to keep him sedated for at least 72 hours to help with the swelling in the brain. I know he has some broken bones; the nose, a small piece in his vertebrae, and most likely a few other things. Right now the head trauma is the worst part, but I know Josh is a strong kid and I know he’ll be back to himself in no time. Please keep Josh and his family in your prayers!!!

I put myself in the three D’s (Danny Hamel, Dan Smith, and myself) with the most AMA H&H Championships (5). These are two guys I’ve really looked up to, so it feels great to be added to this list. Now I’m going to do my best to try and win the most H&H titles next year (with 6).
Here’s a video Beau did from the race.

I’ll attached some photos from Brad Bentley. Brad gave me an awesome poster that he did of me from a race. It was cool and thanks for the gift!

At the finish we really didn’t do any type of celebrating, because everyone was thinking about Josh. It was really a weird feeling and I know it was the right thing to do. Most people didn’t even realize I won the championship. The guys at Monster Kawasaki did make me some awesome championship shirts (which I’ll attach a photo of)! It looks like we’ll do something at the last round in Lucerne, California in October.

The guys at Kawasaki have been behind me 100% since 1998 when I first started racing for them. Reid signed me, and ever since then my racing career took off. That’s been, by far, the best thing that has ever happened to me when it comes to my racing career. I know I still have a few more great years in me, and plan on retiring with the Green team then!

I need to give a huge thanks to Jonny who has been working for me for a long time now. He’s a great friend and a great mechanic. He’s a huge part of my racing, and I know he tries to make things easier on me when I’m at the races. I’m sure this is getting to his head and he’s going to ask for a raise, so I better stop hereJ

I’m still planning on having a big party at the house when I get back home from Greece. I never thought I would win 5 overall national championships when I started a long time ago. In the last 10 years I have 9 major championships, including my 4 Best in the Desert Pro championships too.

I was really pumped to hear my teammates went 1-2 at the second round of the Endurocross (in Oklahoma). Ricky Dietrich pulled off the win, while Damon Huffman pulled off a second. This also put Ricky in the points lead and he’s now leading the Endurocross and WORCS series. I really wanted to go to the Oklahoma race, but figured it would be better to win the H&H championshipJ

The Argubright’s were a big help to us this weekend. They let us pit with them and use their motor home. They’re a great group of guys and are always there to help us out if we need it.

This was my last race before heading over to Greece for the ISDE. I leave on Monday, and I’m really looking forward to it. I know we have a great shot at doing well!

I was wearing my 2009 USA Thor vented gear at the race to show it off. The guys at Thor put my ISDE number on it and it looks awesome (#81). I’ll try to attach a photo!

Now I guess I need to figure out if I’m going to dust off the KX500 and race it at the last round. I really want to do it, but I have no parts for it in case I need to fix it. I might also try and get my new 09 FI ready and see how it works out in the desert.
Best Wishes,
2008 Sponsors: Kawasaki Racing, Monster Energy, Thor, Dunlop, Pro Circuit, Stephen Gall Training, Scott Goggles, SIDI,, Motion Pro, BRP, Braking, Works Connection, Shoei, CTI2, Red Baron, Maxima, Kicker, O’GIO, Acerbis, Steahly, Trick Fuel, RK/Excel, Renthal, Bent, Hinson, AP Designs, IMS, Jonre Multimedia, Cyto Sport, N-Style, GPR Stabilizers, Zip-Ty, UNI, Parkway Chiropractic, Tire-Balls, and ZLT.


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