What a weekend! This past Saturday I participated in the first ever NJ MiniGP 12-Hour Endurance race. That’s right! A twelve hour long race on mini bikes. Who the heck came up with this crazy idea? If you knew the people behind the scenes at NJ MiniGP, namely Ryan Fleming and Nathan Granoff, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear about the creation of this madness.
I initially wanted to try and run this race solo. Thank God I decided against this idea. Instead of trying to iron man the whole event, I teamed up with two of the fastest young racers in the country; Brandon Paasch & Ashton Yates. Brandon is one of the fastest kids in the world right now on a Moriwaki 250. He just recently finished on the podium in the British Superbike Series and he is the 2014 AMA Youth Rider of the Year. Ashton is the son of former AMA Champion Aaron Yates and trains frequently with Josh Herrin. He’s a treat to watch and is lightning quick. It’s uncommon I can’t hang with someone on a mini bike, so I am very thankful these kids were on my team so I didn’t have to chase after them for 12 hours.
Friday evening was open practice. Anyone that pre-registered for the event was allowed to practice for free and get their bikes dialed in for Saturday. For me, it was learning the track and trying to get my form on point. In the past, I have always ran the MiniGP’s Supermoto style with my foot out but I have been working on dragging a knee correctly and my lap times have been rapidly dropping.
Saturday was race day. The race started at 9:30am. As per usual, the NJ MiniGP races start off Le Mans style. One person holds the motorcycle with the engine off. At the drop of the green flag, the rider runs to the bike, starts it up and takes off. I like the way they do this, but I also compete in Duathlons, so this probably isn’t a surprise. There is a video from the start on the Texter Siblings Facebook page or on my Instagram: @CoryTexter.
There were three classes out on the track at one time competing. The F2 class (Basically Superbike rules, but the motorcycle has to be under 150cc), The Stock 150f class (Self explanatory), and the Stock 100 class (Again, Self explanatory).
The premier team in the F2 class was Stump Racing consisting of current/past professional racers Gage McAllister, Eric Stump, Anthony Mazziotto and Scott Stump. They were aboard some BEAUTIFUL CRF 150’s built by Innovative Motorcycle Research. Not only were they on some fast bikes, but there were piloted by some fast riders. It was sweet watching Gage back that 150f into turn one every lap.
The biggest class of the day was the Stock 100 class. In addition to our team (Team 65), there were some fast teams in the class. Team Darkside consisted of Mark Miller, Mike Selpe, Xavier and Ophelie Zayat, Artie Meeker and Ryan Fleming. There was a team from Ohio named OMRL Dream Team that went pretty fast also. I don’t know all the names of the riders on the team but one of the kids on the team was Gavin Anthony. I think he is about 12 years old and weighs 65-70lbs. He was very fast. The other riders on the team were no slouches either. Another team, “Team Medaza” had some fast guys also. They also pitted under an Evans Cooling tent which was sweet considering they are one of my sponsors.
The race itself was very long. Duh, right? We had a few minor problems during the race but nothing too crazy. The needle in Brandon’s carb fell out during his first session out which required an early pit stop that cost us 2-3 laps. There was also a red flag during the race. We had pitted two laps before the red flag came out, so this cost us two laps also. The rider who crashed is OK, just banged up with a concussion. After a brief delay, we lined up in a staggered single file line and went back to green.
We raced into the night and the checkered flag flew at 10pm. Team 65 won the Stock 100 class by 16 laps over OMRL Dream Team and 22 laps over Team Darkside (Don’t cry when you read that one Fleming!). In addition to winning the Stock 100 class, we also finished 2nd overall to Stump Racing on their 250f’s, er.. I mean 150’s. Haha. It would have been interesting if they rode the Stock 100 class. I think we would have battled all the way until the end. Good job to all the teams who raced and finished. I think everyone should have received a finishing medal for completing a race that long. It was the ultimate marathon for mini bike racing.
MiniGP racing is the best kept secret in America today. When I first started doing these GP’s, Brandon Paasch and Anthony Mazziotto were just entering into the NJ MiniGP program. Now they are two of the fastest young racers in the country. Anthony won the 2014 AMA Horizon Award and Brandon won the 2014 AMA Youth Rider of the Year Award. What series did they learn how to race in? NJ MiniGP. No coincidence there.
The technique and corner speed learned on these mini bikes is crucial to becoming successful on the pavement at a young age. I wish I could rewind to 2013 when I decided to try my hand at Professional Road Racing in the Harley-Davidson XR 1200 series. I have learned so much about technique on my Lancaster Honda CRF 100 that would help me tremendously if I ever get the opportunity to race a sport bike on the pavement again.
Not only is this series good for the young kids coming through the ranks, it’s also popular among former racers and weekend warriors. You can’t keep former professional racers like Scott Stump on the couch for long. It’s a fun, competitive way to transition from racing as a job to racing as a hobby. It’s also a blast for novice riders looking to race in a relaxed atmosphere where even if you aren’t the fastest guy/gal out there, you still have a smile on your face.
Check it out. It’s the cool thing to do.
For more information on NJ MiniGP and get a schedule of races/practices, visit their website: http://www.njminigp.com
Check them out on Facebook: Facebook.com/NJMiniGP
Photos by: Frank Angel & Sharon Granoff