Destry’s BAJA 1000 and Vegas EX Race Report!

BAJA 1000
Baja, Mexico
November 20, 2009

Race Day:

At the Baja 1000 I had four other teammates (Robby Bell, Steve Hengeveld, Ryan Penhall, and Connor Penhall). This is the first time I’ve ever raced a SCORE race, which makes it my first Baja race. Robby was starting the race and was going to ride to mile 100 and then hand it over to me. Robby was the 5th bike off and they were starting every bike 30-seconds apart. Our main competition was going to come from a few Honda teams that were starting behind us. While I was waiting at mile 100, I heard that Robby was leading it overall on adjusted and physical time. When he got to me I was super pumped to see how fast he was going. I took off and a little bit later the helicopter radioed to let me know that we were physically 5-minutes ahead and about 2-minutes ahead on adjusted time. I was on the bike for a little over 100-miles over the summit, which was way rougher then I thought it would be (before I got to Baja). Right off the bat you go into a lot of rocks and have to go over this summit, which was about 20-miles long. I was on the tight side, but felt like I still had a good pace going to keep the lead. Halfway into the loop, I was feeling good and had to make my first pit stop. The guys did a great job and I was back off. Then around the 180-mile mark I was in this sand wash and had one close call and almost took a soil sample. I hit a rock with my rear wheel and never saw it. It was a scary moment and I had the bike in full panic rev trying to pull it out. Luckily I did, and just got back into my pace again. When I arrived at mile 201, I got off and they switched wheels and topped off with gas. Ryan Penhall got on here to do his sections (which was a little over 100-miles). We sat there for a little bit before the next bike came in (around 10-minutes). It was Honda’s A team (Kendall Norman, Timmy Weigand, and Quinn Cody), and they had to stop for tires too. When they took off, I was feeling really good about our chances today. The KX450 was working awesome and things were going pretty smooth, but this is Baja so I knew it was far from over. Jonny and I didn’t have any radio communication with anyone from this point on until I got back on at mile-520, so I’m not 100% sure what happened from when I got off to when I got back on. I do know Ryan had a tough time with his section, and when he got off we were physically 1 ½ – minutes up on the Honda A team and now losing by 1 ½ – minutes on adjusted time. Robby got back on for the whooped out San Felipe section, and of course he was back on the gas again. He got us back up on time and back in the lead. Then about 3-miles before he gave me the bike, he went down hard and bent the bike up. He pulled into the pits, but the problem was he was ahead of his scheduled time and it was just Jonny and I at this pit. There wasn’t much we could do , because we didn’t have an exhaust system and bars to change the two worst things. I just told them I’m riding it and will deal with it until the next pit (39-miles). This section I was riding was Mike’s Sky Ranch loop, and there’s a lot of traffic on the road for the first 15-miles. The helicopter had to refuel and I had no one to tell me if I was clear around the corners or in the hills. I was passing cars left and right, but I definitely wasn’t taking any chances. Finally around the 10-mile mark, I heard the guys on the radio telling me they could see me and that was a huge relief. Once they got to me, I hammered down and rode as hard as I could since we were basically tied on time with the Honda boys.
I knew Timmy Weigand (who is a really great rider) was on the bike, but he had already ridden over 100+ miles without a break so I knew he was probably a little tired. The top of Mike’s section was my favorite stuff down there, and was a lot slower than most of the Baja race. When I got to my pit I jumped off, and the guys started to change the exhaust can. It turns out that the whole side of the can was blown out and it wasn’t running the best. They did a great job on changing it and I was planning on getting back on the bike, since I knew I could put more time on Timmy. I had actually put 2-minutes on him in my 39-miles section and I wanted to try to put more time on him going down the hill with a bike that would actually run on top-end. Unfortunately there was a lot that went on in this pit, and I was ordered not to get on the bike and to let Connor ride instead. I can honestly tell you I wanted on that bike and was doing everything I could, but as you can tell it didn’t happen as planned and I wasn’t too happy about it! Connor took off and then Timmy came by a little less than 5-minutes later. Connor had a 42-mile section back into the meadows, (mile 600) but a lot of it was slower stuff until the end. When he got down to the bottom, he turned the bike over to Steve Hengeveld. They had to put lights on it, change tires and a filter. Honda had to do the same thing so we figured we weren’t going to lose any time in the pits. When Steve took off the Honda was around a minute back and now leading on time. From this point on, I really don’t know what happened since I got to the finish right before they got there. Steve is one of the best night racers and I felt confident in him, but Honda had Kendall Norman on the bike and he’s a great rider too. Steve needed to put a couple minutes on Kendall and he just wasn’t able to since he was still riding a bent up bike and Kendall was really wanting the win which would also give him the Score championship. Steve came across the finish in first, but Kendall was less than a minute back and that gave the Honda boys the win on adjusted time. It’s hard to believe we raced for 14-hours and the win came down to less than 3-minutes.
Overall Summary:
This was really a tough race to lose for me (and the rest of the team). It felt like I lost a championship that was right in our hands. I’ve lost plenty of races before, but this one was something I really wanted to add to my list of wins. I was really happy with the way I rode and the way the bike held up for that long of a race. All of us riders gave it everything we could, but we just came up a little short. I was a great experience and fun to be part of, so I don’t regret any of that. I just really wanted to win it for Kawasaki and Danny Hamel (someone I’ve always looked up to)!

Overall Results (top 4):
1st Kendall Norman, Timmy Weigand, and Quinn Cody
2nd Destry Abbott, Robby Bell, Steve Hengeveld, Ryan and Connor Penhall
3rd Colton Udall, Brent Harden, Matt and Max Eddy
4th Ivan Ramirez, Mike Childress, Shane Esposito, Brandon Prieto, and Noe Ibarra

Other Notes:
I enjoyed the pre-running and trying to get my sections figured out. I would estimate that I put in over 800-miles of riding before the race. The best part about it was the fact that the whole time I was down there I never crashedJ

The worst part of my trip in Mexico was hearing about a good friend of mine Dave Chase. Dave passed away Thursday, November 12, 2009. I heard Dave went to the hospital to be treated for the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) where it was discovered that he had advanced leukemia. Chase reportedly passed only days later. I met Dave in the early 90’s and he was such an awesome guy and did a lot for me. He was truly one of the good guys in our sport and will be deeply missed.

I’ve had a ton of people ask me what I thought of Baja and if I would go back down there again to race. First, I really enjoy Baja and had a lot of fun hanging out and meeting some great people. The experience was something I’ll never forget (especially contingency row) and I was happy I did it. Hopefully the next time I race it I’ll be in a race truck or car though J

I don’t know where to begin on thanking all the people that were part of this race. It’s one of those races you have to have a huge amount of support and volunteers for (just for our Kawasaki team). Bruce Penhall was the biggest part of putting this together and I really want to thank him for the opportunity to go down there and finally race. My teammates were all really cool and the only reason I was down here was because of them and knew we had the riders to win with. I also had my mechanic Jonny, Bret Leaf, Bob Bell, John Braasch, Phil, Sean Reddish, Steve Achy (who were both in the helicopter), and a ton of other people that were a huge help. Thanks!
One of my sponsors Dragon Fire Racing won the Sportsman UTV class in their Kawasaki Teryx. Todd Romano (owner) and Reid Nordin were two of the drivers in the car. I’m not sure who else was in the car.

I attached a variety of photos from Baja. As you could see one of the t-shirts had me on the back, which was pretty cool. I ended up buying someJ There’s a few of them from Art Eugenio. In one of the photos you can see where the exhaust system blew out the side and how bent the right side of the bars were.

I also wanted to congratulate the Honda team. They’re a great group of guys and I know the three of them rode extremely well and worked really hard for the win today. Great job guys!

Las Vegas, Nevada
November 21, 2009

Race Day:
Well on race day I was still sitting at the border trying to get across to the US side. Right after Baja we were on the gas back to the US, but we didn’t get across until early morning. We slept for a little bit and then drove the rest of the way and made it into Vegas around noon. At 3:00pm it was track walk and then practice. As you could imagine I struggled a little bit in my two 5-minutes practice sections. Going from riding 100 mph across the desert the last 1 ½ weeks on my 450, to riding my 250F in first gear was pretty wild. In my hot lap (for gate pick) I had a pretty good lap going until I went down in the matrix section, and lost a lot of time. After that I went back and took a 20-minute nap which was really nice, had some dinner, and then it was time to get ready for the races. I was in the 3rd heat and of course they’re all stacked especially at the final round. I had the far outside gate, but had a great jump and was into 2nd after the second corner. Ricky D was leading and I was just trying to ride smooth and not use up too much energy (I didn’t have a lot of that in me). Graham Jarvis got by me, but he’s a great trials rider so I didn’t have much for him. I had a solid third place going, but they only took two to the main. I believe there were two laps to go and I could hear the crowd get really loud. I was hoping it was one of the guys in front of me (nothing against RD), but I wanted to make the mainJ . I looked up and saw Ricky off his bike trying to put the chain back on. I was able to get by and now just needed to keep it on two wheels. I was able to pull off the 2nd place and was super happy to be in the main!
Main Event:
I had the fourth gate pick, but was lined up right next to Taddy and I knew he was going to be pinning it. When the gate dropped I launched out and was first, but had Taddy hitting me from the inside. Luckily I was able to keep it on two and got over the first log to get the $500 bonus for the hole-shot. I really don’t know how I pulled that off, since I never get great startsJ I led for the first half of the lap, and then when I was going around the rock corner Geoff came in the inside of me and clipped my front wheel. It dropped in between the log and rocks and I couldn’t get it out. I started a pretty big bottleneck and was doing everything I could to get going. Finally I got it out, but was probably around 7th or so. I tried to put in some good laps, but I had a couple other guys get by. I honestly was so beat and just had nothing in me. I was trying, but I kept making mistakes and knew it wasn’t looking good for me. With two laps to go I finally had to pull over and just wait until the checkered flag came out. Quitting is something I just hate and don’t like to do, but I was so beat and just had nothing I could give anymore. I ended up finishing last in the main event, but was extremely happy it was over and to see both of my teammates up on the podium.

Overall Summary:
Making the main event was pretty wild and exciting, but I really know I could’ve done a lot better if it wasn’t for a lack of sleep and no energy. Getting the hole-shot was an awesome feeling and the first time I’ve ever did that in the main event. Now I’m just really happy the year is over and I get some time to relax!

Main Event Results:
1st Ricky Dietrich
2nd Geoff Aaron
3rd Damon Huffman
4th Colon Haaker
5th Taddy Blazusiak
6th Cody Webb
7th Bobby Prochnau
8th Corry Graffunder
9th Mike Brown
10th Graham Jarvis
11th Destry Abbott

Other Notes:
Here’s a video from the race…22…finals-webshow/ . Dillon always does a great job and it’s worth watching!

Here’s a link to Monster Kawasaki’s race report…dRacing/Landing.aspx

I’m finally on vacation and don’t have a contracted race I have to do until January 24th (AMA H&H). The last two months have been insane and even though things didn’t end up as well as I wanted this year, I still feel really good about the way it went and know I’ll be even stronger next year. I need to get my #1 plate back (in the H&H’s).

Coming into the final EX race I really didn’t know if I could make the main event (because I was in Baja for the week). I didn’t have any time on the bike, before the race, and haven’t raced an EX race since the second round. The one good thing is that the last 4-rounds I’ve raced I’ve made the main in all of them. So when I did make the main here I was pretty pumped! Did I tell you I got the hole-shot too? HAHA! The EX races are some of my favorite type of racing and the final is always the best one to go to. Be sure to check them out next year and I know you won’t regret it.

I attached some EX photos from Brad Bentley. I also found some other ones from other sites I attached.

I have a ton of photos I posted up on my message board and you can check them out here.…41&st=0&gopid=11276&#entry11276

Best Wishes,
2009 Sponsors: Monster Kawasaki Racing, Thor, Dunlop, GPR Stabilizers, Shoei, Pro Circuit, Stephen Gall Training, SIDI, IMS, Zip-Ty,, Motion Pro, BRP, Braking, Works Connection, Concept2, CTI2, Maxima, Kicker, O’GIO, Steahly, RK/Excel, Renthal, Bent, Hinson, Jonre Multimedia,, Scott, Cyto Sport, N-Style, UNI, Parkway Chiropractic, Tire-Balls, and ZLT.

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