PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Charlie Mullins claimed an AMA national title in rugged conditions this weekend at the 2013 AMA Kenda Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship, presented by KLIM, at the Big Sky Ski Resort in Big Sky, Mont.
The AMA Kenda Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship, presented by KLIM, recognizes the best amateur off-road riders in the country. Riders earn a spot on the starting line at the national championship event through a number of qualifiers throughout the country. Participants come from a range of disciplines — enduro, hare scrambles, EnduroCross, cross-country and desert racing — to battle for bragging rights on the national stage.
After jumping out to the early lead partway into the first lap, FMF/KTM rider Mullins blitzed his way to a comfortable lead while seemingly unfazed by the high altitude, loose rocks and narrow, cliff-side trail of the mountainous terrain. Mullins was barely sweating when he crossed the finish line with nearly 2 minutes to spare over runner-up Brad Bakken after three hours of racing.
Mullins, along with the first-place finishers in each class at the AMA Kenda Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship, presented by KLIM, received an AMA national No. 1 plate for his performance at the event.
“The only problem I had all race was I came into the rock garden section and there were lappers in my usual line. I tried to go straight up the rocks, and I got hung up about halfway,” Mullins said. “I lost about 5 seconds there, but I was able to get going again without killing my engine or falling over.”
Bakken came from back in the pack to claim second, passing Am Pro Yamaha’s Jordan Ashburn on the final lap. Ashburn, who ran in second for the last half of the race, suffered a flat on the final lap before succumbing to Bakken’s charge.
Fourth went to West Coast off-roader Ricky Russell, who held down the runner-up spot for most of the first half of the race before the Am Pro Yamaha-backed rider said he “hit a wall” with two laps to go and gave way to Bakken and Ashburn. East Coast racer Rory Sullivan came on strong in the end to nip Taylor Robert for fifth. Robert said after the race that it felt like he was riding a hard-tail frame because of an incorrect suspension setting.
“The AMA Kenda Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship, presented by KLIM, lived up to its billing as one of the country’s toughest off-road races,” said AMA Off-Road Manager Chuck Weir. “The venue proved a true test for all of our competitors. A major thanks goes out to Big Sky for hosting a top-notch national championship event.”
In its first year with AMA national championship status, the Big Sky event is a unique race held in a beautiful location. And like most extreme races, it is challenging and exciting, with the racecourse winding its way from the 8,000-foot pit area next to the lodge to more than 10,000 feet at the highest point, running up and down the many ski runs on the property.
For official results from the event, see www.bigskyxc.com.