This past weekend the North Texas off-road community was well represented in the 9th Round of the GNCC series (a.k.a. The John Penton). The massive clan including: Drew Higgins, Dillon Green, Allie Spurgeon, Bryce Gartman, Hannah Otto, Ben Otto and myself, Dalton Green; all made the 20-hour trek up to Athens, Ohio. Saturday met us with high humidity and triple digit temperatures. Since there is no riding on Saturday we quickly parked, unloaded, scoped out a few sections, tweaked a few things on the bikes, and quickly raced back to the hotel for a dip in the pool. After a trip into downtown Athens for dinner, everyone hit the sack to rest up for the grueling races to come the next morning.
Our clan arrived to the track early Sunday morning to a bit cooler temperatures. From the information we gathered from various sources, the track was 10.5 miles consisting of alternating sections of small open field sections and four-wheeler wide trees, all ending with the motocross track located in the cleared forest valley. The GNCC staff expected dust, and spectating would be at a minimum due to the lack of transit lines into the woods. Not to mention the humidity was toasting us into a shady submission. Ben Otto was the first to hit the track, and rode to a solid 5th in the Supermini (12-13). After his race he informed us that the track was fast and fairly open with a sections of scattered rocks. The AM race was next and included Drew Higgins in Sportsman A; Bryce Gartman & myself in Sportsman B; and Hannah Otto & Allie Spurgeon in the Women’s class. The race turned out to be pretty uneventful with the Texas posse getting average starts and riding their way to the front. The exception was Drew Higgins who made his life way easier by grabbing the holeshot. Drew Higgins rode to an impressive 2nd overall followed by his signature monotone podium speech (we can just say its his signature attribute now). Allie Spurgeon would battle back into the top ten (finished 8th) after having some problems with slower riders early in the race. Hannah Otto found the podium with a 3rd place finish, while Bryce Gartman just missed the podium with a respectable 4th place ride. I was also on the podium with a 2nd place finish. The total race times ranged between 1:59:02 and 2:15:32.
Dillon decided to make his 3-hour race debut in the 4 stroke lites B, which gave us the pleasure to stay in the comfortable humidity for another 5 hours (If anyone was unsure about that last statement, I was being extremely sarcastic because the humidity was not comfortable at all). Off the start, we couldn’t believe Dillon reached the first turn with the holeshot, especially with his great dead engine start techniques. But our excitement was short lived as he pushed the front end and took a digger in the second corner. We all thought to ourselves “There is the Dillon we all know and love.” As we got back to the trailer to watch the motocross section (essentially the only section we could see) Laura Higgins informed us that Dillon worked his way back up to second in only two miles! We felt just that much better with such good news. Through the next 2.5 hours, Dillon pursued the leader in his hopes to win his first three-hour race. The clan encouraged him at every pit stop as he gulped down our trademarked concoction of Gatorade and coconut juice (any use of this delicious mixture must be approved by Tammi Needham, The Needham Family or the Green Family as well as any and all affiliates; please enjoy responsibly). As the last lap flag came out Dillon was only 15 seconds behind the leader, and boy did the leader look tired. It was as if he had a cinder block tied to his waist, because he was not getting off the seat anytime soon. Our clan was super excited and just knew Dillon could run him down for the win. The suspense was absolutely unbearable as we waited 27.654 minutes for Dillon to make it back into view, hopefully in the lead. But time ticked by and no Dillon. The leader came through and no Dillon. We thought he might have crashed and threw it away, but the amount of time began to seem unusual. After about 20 minutes we were worried. We began looking everywhere for Lil D while my mom raced to the scoring trailer to inform the officials that we had a missing rider. Coming back from the officials trailer, Mom spotted Dillon on a stretcher. The worst scenario was realized. The medical team informed us that Dillon had passed out twice from heat and needed to get to the hospital, so off they went. Meanwhile The Needham’s, Dad and I stayed to load the trailer. We inspected Dillon’s bike to see if he had a crash that contributed to this heat exhaustion. I immediately noticed the inch and a half gash at the bottom of the clutch cover. But in a worried rush we noted the fault, loaded up and sped to the hospital.
The rest of the story (and how we came to find it all out from Dillon after he woke up) could take hours to accurately tell, so here is what happened in the last lap of Dillon Green’s John Penton GNCC experience in his own words.
“After I passed the final little opening in the trees where you guys (the Texas Posse) could see me, I was about 4 bike lengths behind the leader. I could see he was dead tired because he never left the seat for the entire last lap. So I ran him down and passed him at about the 5-mile marker. I was feeling awesome and riding along when about the 8th mile marker the back tire started to feel like it was just spinning. The bike just wouldn’t go (this was the clutch going out). So anytime I got to a hill I could ride it up about half way, then I would jump off and push it up the rest of the way. I didn’t want to give up a ride like this, but eventually the leader passed me back at the 8.5-mile marker, so I just wanted to salvage a good finish. After about the 5th hill/mud hole I was just getting so hot; I started seeing things. A few guys came by me while I was stopped on the side of the track pushing and asked if I was ok. I told them that I was ok but right about that time, I just remember falling over. After that I went in and out of sleep and a conscious blur.” – Dillon Green
After a few hours in the hospital of the nurses flooding Dillon with liquids through an IV, he was back to normal and ready to tackle the 20-hour trek back to the lone-star state. The running joke through the van on the way back was that Dad could NEVER tell Dillon again to “no-matter what, ride until you pass out.”
Drew Higgins – 2nd Sportsman A
Dalton Green – 2nd Sportsman B
Bryce Gartman – 4th Sportsman B
Dillon Green – 9th 4 Stroke Lites B
Hannah Otto – 3rd Women
Allie Spurgeon – 8th Women
Ben Otto – 5th Supermini 12-13