ABA’s “Dixieland” a Delight

April 4, 2011 by  

By Mike Carruth

I don’t think of the band “Alabama” all that much, but every year when we drive down to Atlanta for the ABA Dixieland Nationals, I just can’t help it.

By the time we hit the Tennessee line, their song “Dixieland Delight” is firmly impacted in whatever zone of the brain makes you play a song over and over and over again in your head. And whistle it. And sing it out loud when people are trying to sleep after the Midnight fillup. And in the Breakfast area of the Holiday Inn Express.

After repeated performances of that lil ditty, we made it out to Cobb County BMX. A drippy week, with rain all the way up to Friday morning, left the track well-watered (probably an understatement)…we were getting tweets and texts all day driving down that the track was “soft.”

But by race time on Saturday, much of that had been worked in (though parts of the fourth straight still had a case of the spongies right through the time Bill Madden passed over it to win Sunday’s 41-over ex main).

Speaking of pre-race chatter, there was a lot for this race. Vintage had its normal “Roll Call” thread, which showed some pretty strong interest, Facebook, and Twitter also. Social media is a real godsend in that way–you kind of get a “temperature” of how a race is going to be before you even hit town.

And despite the soggy lead-in, Saturday and Sunday were both picture-pefect race days. I credit the ABA for this. Afterall, when it rains, people categorically make it their fault (how “this is the worst time of the year to hold a race in (insert location here),” or “there is always rain on this weekend,” etc.)…so, only fair they get the credit when it goes right, eh?

162 motos on Saturday, and 152 on Sunday was a very respectable running–moreso if you consider there were two NBL races in the region which drew about equal numbers (a National in Virginia, and one of their very-well-attended state races in Florida). All told, about ~490 motos of BMX Racing in the Southeast on Saturday…good news for the BMX Racing faithful.

A total of 18 riders in the A-Pro class (16 on Sunday) made for a weekend of well-contested racing that made fencelines swell each time these guys were on the track. Jr. Devo had a boys class only, with one rack, and held the crowd–just like a Simpson’s episode after a good Superbowl.

In these classes, it was all Rockford on the top of the podium. Olijuwan Davis went 1-1-1-1 both days, and was oh-so-impressive. It is really interesting to see how riders find their groove (or don’t) once they hit the pros. OD has got it goin on, and you are going to see his name in the results a lot this year.

OD’s home-track-homie, Tyler Whitfield, is a skills clinic incarnate. Probably the most chill and mild-mannered kid to ever strap on a pair of Sidis. But once that gate drops, it is all business. In the rare instance he was not out in the lead this weekend, there was no cake walk for the guy in front. Cobb County’s last straight is rhythm. This slowed down some, and sped up others. In three-of-four mains, Tyler mounted strategic last-straight charges with his hyper-honed manualing skills to win the race in the final feet, scoring a double-double. Santiago Marin and Jake Hootman were on the receiving end of the instruction both days in Jr. Devo and 16x, respectively, though both rode incredibly strong.

Back to A-Pro, ’twas good to see Jason Larev back in the saddle after a self-imposed layoff. This weekend proved he had not lost his mojo, making both mains (scoring a fourth and a sixth). Kovachi’s Seth Utz has had his pro card for a few months now, and is one who is definitely finding his groove. Seth (far left in the above shot) was a factor in all the motos, and ended up with a second and a fifth for the weekend. Seth’s dad told me a great story on how he brought Seth out to see a national here at Cobb County when he was four years old…and that was it…they have been doing this ever since–16 years!

Team competition was fierce, with Snap and AllTow tying for the Factory win on Saturday, and AllTow getting the win on Sunday. Word was that AllTow chief Renato Pistolesi would lop off his shoulder-length locks if the team broke 200 on Sunday. Well, the score was 201, and Bill Morris was having a fun time egging on the crowd as he announced the team results. Renato held true to his word, and sat for the ol’ chop-and-bzzzzzz. These photos were posted to ABA’s Facebook page (will open in a new window) Photo 1 | Photo 2.

On the Am side, it was a lot of “second verse, same as the first” between the two days. Some of the standouts:

Was good to see Chase Hines’ SE threads back on the bike, after a three month layoff (collarbone in practice at the Christmas Classic). He and Brandon Elmore had a battle Royale in 17-20 Cruiser, with Brandon getting the win on Saturday, and Chase on Sunday.

Brandon made his 12-hour trek from Dallas worth the gas, with double wins in the stacked 19-27 ex class (and the aforementioned Saturday Cruiser win).

Meredith Lidstone commanded respect from all comers this weekend, winning 41-45 G-Cruiser both days, and taking her 20″ to the front on Sunday for a win in what amounted to 17-over girls.

Lots of Arizonans in the house this weekend (and not just in the ABA trailer). Dougie Butcher came up with a pair of deuces on Saturday in 12x and 12C, and improved his cruiser finish for the win on Sunday. He seemed to have some bad luck in class, with a Sunday snowman in the main. Still, Dougie gets the “never give up” award for the weekend. After splitting a link in his chain while leading first round of 12x on Sunday, he kept momentum and pump-raced his way to a second place transfer spot (check out his chain in the photo). “Second round is for sissies,” he says (by actions only).

The Bull and The Eagle (AKA Ethan and Avery Moore) scored big in ATL, with double wins in 7x and 10G. Ethan has a heck of a front straight, and is a never-say-die little guy. Can’t help but think how amazing his skills will be when HE hits Jr. Devo in about seven years…word is he has tackled the SX hill at Speedworld already.

Bopping back to the stars of the “right” coast, Justin Posey was all-the-way-on in Powder Springs. He and local hero Chandler Denton were bar-end-to-bar-end a lot this weekend, and Denton was riding extremely well (more than a few commented how he was riding at the very edge between way-fast, and out of control–with preference to way-fast). Austin Loebe was leading Saturday’s 17-18x main, with Posey and Denton in close pursuit. The pack dropped into the first turn, and only Loebe came out, along with the mid pack and beyond. Sunday, Posey kept the rubber side down, and closed the deal on the win. Loebe was second and Tanner Sebesta with the third.

Smilin Doran Bradshaw had plenty to grin about this Dixieland weekend. A decisive double-double in 36-40 Cruiser, and 36-40 Expert. Pretty good weekend for the Morphine crew, really. With OD’s pwnership of the Pros, and Doran’s aforementioned triumph, Jonathan must be jumpin for joy down in the Sunshine state.

On the “Softer Side” of the ‘Springs, lots of repeats in the Girls classes. 11G had a full dozen in the chutes, and Young Gun Anais Hill held the pink slip (no gender-pun intended) on the class both days.

Bad To The Bones Lexa Jones Sscored big in Powder Ssprings, sscooting her Ssquared to twin wins both days in 12G and 11-12G Cruiser.

Samantha Brown put the beat-down on 15G, earning the high hardware both days.

As with most/all ABA races, things ran with Swiss-Watch precision. No drama…everyone had a great time. We love coming to the Dixielands every year, with the free parking, yummy concessions and honest-to-goodness bathrooms (supported by a bank of porta-potties as backup). Margie Hatfield and her crew have been doing this for longer than most of the riders this weekend have been alive…but their product continues to show solid quality and “service.” When you visit a track and those key elements are absent, you sure miss them.

Well, the circus caravan that is the National BMX Racing scene has pulled up stakes here in Atlanta, and heads west on I-40. Next stop: San Diego, CA for the ABA So. Cal Nationals and USA Cycling National Championships in two weeks. I only hope “Dixieland Delight” is out of my head by then.

“Rollin’ down a backwoods Tennessee byway, one arm on the wheel…”


Photo Galleries from The ABA Dixieland Nationals
Saturday Photo Gallery

Sunday Photo Gallery

Dixieland National Results (via ABABMX.COM)

A big thanks to Young Guns BMX for letting the BMXNEWS.COM support entourage set down in their pit for the weekend.