When Ryan Abbatoye, Justin Seeds and I decided we wanted to race the 10 Hours of Glen Helen we started thinking of a way to make the experience a bit different for us. As fate would have it, Justin had a 2003 KX250 two stroke that he was just starting to assemble and it didn’t take much deliberation for us to come to the conclusion that racing a two stroke sounded like a lot of fun. Justin delivered the bike to Precision Concepts and a couple weeks later we had a race bike. We couldn’t wait to start burning laps on it.
Our plan for the 10-hour was to do four laps at a time, which was about fifty minutes of riding, with Justin starting, myself riding second and Ryan hopping on third. We were informed prerace that we were racing for second place as Ty Renshaw, Ricky Brabec and Ryan Dudek joined forces to come out and make a race of it; the three of them being no strangers to the Glen Helen endurance series, we’d definitely need to be up to pace on the 250 to hang.
When the race started Justin got out front early and after a pretty intense first-lap battle with Brad Goolsby he started he was able to start stretching a bit of a lead; and that two stroke sounded sick!
I hopped on the bike, headed out for my first stint and a smile instantly plastered itself to my face. Riding a two stroke is so much fun! I was still acclimatizing to the power band slightly as I was learning the track, having to carry my momentum a bit differently without the low-end torque of the 450. I also noticed it was a bit of work to find the right gear in the single track; I found myself either in first gear over revving, or in second gear abusing the clutch to keep the bike pulling strong. Regardless of that I was having such a good time riding that thing and was able to just about match Ryan Dudek’s lap times (Ryan took over for Ty, who had started), maintaining around thirty seconds over his team.
Ryan hopped on the bike and we knew it would take him some time to get used to the bike; he wasn’t able to make it out to test the bike so he hadn’t even sat on it, let alone ridden it (a couple runs up and down the parking lot that morning was plenty of time to get used to the bike, right?). To compound matters, Ryan over-jumped the small table on the finish line straightaway of the motocross track, facing the next jump incredibly hard, and though he didn’t crash, he knocked the wind out of himself for a bit. Ricky, who had taken over for Dudek, was able to make his way by as Ryan was regrouping and pulled a few seconds on us.
Justin took over for us as Ty took over for his team and Justin rode really well. He was able to reel Ty in and make the pass, getting us back into the lead. Ty pitted a lap earlier than us and put Dudek on the bike; he was able to stay pretty close to Justin so that when we came in for our pit, Dudek was just able to pass me as I exited. I did my best to t-bone him in the next corner (all in good fun of course), but he held the lead and started to dust me out a bit. I lost some time over the next few laps, as I was still struggling a little bit in the single track, and before I knew it I was over thirty seconds down. That’s when our whole race changed.
I was accelerating down a fast straight that linked back up to the Talladega turn when the motor bogged slightly. My memories of two strokes told me that if the bike bogs while you’re wide open, that usually a red flag of some sort. I made the quick decision not to take any chances of seizing the bike (especially way out in the back hills) and rode over to impound to get our back up bike (my race 450). It took me a little over a minute to switch the transponder and get back out to the course and by the time I came around to complete my fourth lap of the stint I was just under two minutes down.
I instantly realized why the four stroke is a better race machine; it simply pulls harder across the terrain and it’s so much easier to ride in certain situations where you can simply lug the bike in second gear as opposed to having the clutch the 250 to death to keep it pulling. The 250 definitely has the fun factor and the nostalgia, but since that rule change that allowed the four stroke to nearly double the cc’s of the two stroke, it’s never been a fair fight when it comes to which bike is faster (at least in moto and gp’s).
I stayed on the bike for an additional two laps in an effort to make up some of the ground we had lost and in those two laps I made up about a minute, getting us to within fifty seconds of the lead once more. Ryan took over the bike and continued to close the distance on the leader and within a couple laps he made the pass on Ty and started to pull away.
From there we never looked back; Justin continued to stretch our advantage and after another cycle of riders, plus a lengthy pit stop for Ty’s team, we found ourselves enjoying around seven minutes of an advantage. We were able to back it down as the time wound down and take the checkered flag, winning the 10 Hours of Glen Helen.
It was an incredibly fun experience racing the two stroke 250. A quick look over the bike showed that all of the radiator fluid had leaked out, possibly due to a puncture, possibly due to the hoses being ten years old, more likely a combination. It was definitely a bummer not to finish on the 250, as it would have made our story a bit more epic, but I had a really good time and enjoyed feeling the difference between the two bikes in a race situation.
I’d like to thank Precision Concepts for putting in all of the work they did to get the 250 up and running and the rest of my personal sponsors: Kawasaki, MSR MX, Shoei helmets, Sidi boots, Spy goggles, Focus apparel, USWE hydration systems, EVS sports, THR Motorsports, FMF racing, BRP, Northland Motorsports, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, Alamo Alarm, ATP Mechanix and Jan’s Towing. Also thanks to everyone who helped us out in the pits and the Goolsby family for hosting dinner afterwards. I’d also like to mention that the 10-hour course was a lot of fun; I know we were thinking the course was going to be a dry, dust bowl with how hot and dry the last year has been, but the Glen Helen crew shortened the course slightly, using some fun single track and sections that weren’t as silty and they kept the rest pretty well watered. They did a great job.
Next up for me is the WORCS race in Cedar City, Utah. I haven’t raced there since the regional qualifier for Loretta Lynn’s amateur national in 2002, but I remember the motocross track being fun and I’m sure the WORCS crew will throw together a great layout. I hope to see everyone there!
Thank you to each of the team sponsors: Dunlop, FMF, Renthal, GPR stabilizer, Hinson, VP Race Fuels IMS, BRP, Kalgard lubricants, LA Piston Co., A’ME grips, Braking, RK/Excel, ARC levers, DT1 filters, Acerbis, Zip-Ty, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, Seal Savers, Baja Designs, Northland Motorsports, CryoHeat, Hoosier Precision Machining