Hurricane Mills, TN – The first-ever Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series double-header made for an exciting weekend of racing as Loretta Lynn’s Ranch hosted a record-setting total of nine races – beginning on Friday with day one of bike racing, ATV racing took place on Saturday and the grand finale of bike racing on Sunday. North Carolina’s Charlie Mullins added another page to the GNCC Racing history books by securing the 2011 XC1 Championship title after riding yet another flawless race on day two of the Parts Unlimited Loretta Lynn’s GNCC in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
Rewinding to Friday, Mullins suffered a mechanical issue near the end of a race that he indisputably dominated, while Paul Whibley and Josh Strang closed the points gap on the American off-road racing star heading into Sunday’s finale. Mullins proved that he could handle the pressure, though, riding his way to claim his first-ever GNCC XC1 title. And to top it off, Mullins also won the $250 Motosport.com Holeshot Award at the start of the race.
The win gave Mullins the XC1 title over New Zealand’s Paul Whibley, who won the title in 2009. In fact, Mullins is the first American to win the GNCC title since Rodney Smith held it in 2004, which demonstrates the wide-reaching scope of GNCC Racing. To put the significance of Mullins’ title in perspective, seven of the last 11 GNCC championships have been won by foreign riders, including the last five straight: Australia’s Shane Watts won it in 2000, Finland’s Juha Salminen held it from 2005 to 2006, David Knight from the Isle of Man was champ in 2007 and 2008, while New Zealand’s Paul Whibley and Australia’s Josh Strang claimed the titles in 2009 and 2010. To say the least, Mullins’ win was a popular one, especially since he’s been racing the series since he was a youth rider.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Mullins. “I’m really at a loss for words, right now. I’ve worked so hard and so many people have helped me along the way. There are so many people out there that helped make this happen and it feels really good to finally win it, it’s been a long time coming.”
“It’s been 10 years ago I was in the youth class, and it’s pretty cool to come up and be the champion,” added Mullins. “When I started racing it was just me and my dad and my uncle just coming out on the weekends, just spending time with the family and having a good time. I really never thought it would progress to this, it’s something I’ll always remember.”
Mullins put on an incredible display over the extremely rugged 12.5-mile course, while Kailub Russell, Cory Buttrick, Paul Whibley, and Josh Strang locked up in an intense battle for the runner-up position. Strang washed out on the loose rocky start, sending him to the back of the pack early on but the defending champion pushed his way to fourth, just behind Buttrick and Whibley. Unfortunately, Strang hit a set of tree roots that sent him to the ground and furthermore added to his string of bad luck in 2011, as the Aussie superstar’s day ended abruptly with a leg injury. JG Off-Road/GEICO Honda’s Jimmy Jarrett volunteered to end his day as well, along with XC2 racer Cody Gragg – who both stopped to assist the injured Strang in the woods.