The opening round for the 11-race SRA Grand Prix series opened under clear but cool skies at Glen Helen Raceway on Sunday, January 21, 2018.  Riders were greeted by a fast and relatively simple course layout. Damp conditions, courtesy of rain on Friday, allowed the rare use of the Glen Helen ridgeline.  Rider comments about the racecourse were generally very positive.

There were well over 20 riders on most lines and the infamous Talladega first turn (which is wide and steeply banked) provided a safe start to all the races. The National, REM, Lucas Oil truck tracks and off-road sections of the Glen Helen grounds were all blended together to provide a challenging and entertaining layout for this first race of the year.

Gordon Ward was the winner of both race one (over 50 Expert) and race two (over 40 Expert). Photo by Sean Renshaw.

Race One was comprised of the Super Senior +50/60 classes including skill levels from Beginner to Expert.   Mike Baker, a 50+ Expert, led the way into the National Track section to end the first lap of the race.  Last season’s class champions Ron Hofer (+50) and Rick Sanders (+60) each battled to top five finishes highlighting the talented competition present in all classes at SRA!  The Senior 40+ riders were represented in Race Two.  The competition in these cases is always well fought and Sunday’s race did not disappoint.  Novice, Aaron Fitzsimmons, edged out Steve Shields by just one second for the class win after an hour of racing.  Gordon Ward managed the expert class win, while Brandon Jeffries and Dan Floyd topped the amateur and beginner classes respectively.

Super Senior Start (Line 1)
The over 50 class was one of the largest races. Photo by Sean Renshaw.

Race Three grouped all skill levels of the four-stroke and 250cc classes.  This class is often referred to as the “Pro class” and the racing did not disappoint.  The Expert riders included Justin Jones, Nick Garvin, Kevin Barbosa, Shane O’Dor, Noah Gerke, Mitch Green, Preston Campbell and Benny Breck.  The rider turnout in this class provided great competition for all entries and fabulous entertainment for the spectators.

Scott Putnam
Scott Putnam was second to Gordon Ward in the 40 Experts. That’s like winning to most riders. Photo by Sean Renshaw.

Race four included classes for all Vets +30, women, 125cc, 65cc, 85cc, and Super Minis.  This “family” class is often one of the most popular of the day, because it allows moms, dads, and kids to race in the same event.  The highlight of this class had to be brothers Patrick and Justin Nguon competing in the 65cc beginner class.  It was wonderful to watch their parents willing them up Glen Helen’s monstrous uphills.

Caleb Tate
Caleb Tate was the top 65cc Novice. Photo by Sean Renshaw.

The opening round of the 11-race SRA Grand Prix series was a great success.  The conditions were pleasant, rider turnout was up from 2017, competition was stout, and fun was had by all involved.  Round 2 of the SRA Grand Prix series will be at Glen Helen Raceway on Sunday, February 25, 2018.

The next SRA “event” is the annual year-end trophy presentation to be held Saturday, January 27, 2018 at the Knowlwood restaurant at 14952 Sand Canyon Avenue in Irvine.  See you all there! Click here for the full results on SRA’s website.

–Cathy Suitor

Justin Jones
Justin Jones led the pro class from start to finish. Benny Breck was running second until he ran out of gas. Photo by Sean Renshaw.
Kylie Hart
Kylie Hart won the Woman’s Expert class and finished fifth against the men on the Vet expert line. Photo by Sean Renshaw.


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