30 Moments From the 2017 Grands

December 1, 2017 by  

31 Moments form the 2017 USA BMX Grands
Writing the Grands story has always been a grand challenge. SO much takes place over the two days of racing, let along the ROC and the Thursday practice.

Instead of reciting pages of finishes, Romper Room style, we distilled our experience down to the following 30 highlights.

(In no particular order)

Grands By The Numbers:
Grands Motos: 733 Grands
Entries: 4103 (not counting striders)
Gates dropped on Sunday: 1480
Sunday Running time: 15 hours (almost exactly)
Largest Class: 92 (19-27 Expert)
Smallest Class: 3 (51-55 Women Cruiser & 5-Under Expert)

The track was a star of the show, right alongside every rider who showed up. This year’s model had a third straight decision-maker that shortened the trip considerably.

In some classes, if you were the kind that did not normally go to the “pro” side, it was widely accepted that you were making the decision to not even make the main, let alone win the main.

We may be mistaken (and are quite-sure we’ll be called on it if we are), but we think Tom Tucker, the W1 from Australia was the youngest to hit it and make it work consistently throughout the race weekend. He’s 12.

LOTS of lead riders blew up in that pro section though, so there were some races where the guys who went left actually made it to the next round of qualifying, but by and large, they sky birds got the worms. The track was 50 feet shorter on the pro side than on the am side of the decisionmaker (1100 versus 1150).

Historically, the USA BMX Grands was the only Pro Series race of the year that was not a UCI calendar event.

The uniquely-American tradition of three mains and allowing the reigning #1 pros to run their USA BMX #1 plate, has taken precedence over whatever benefits UCI affiliation to the race could bestow. In the weeks leading up to the race, USA BMX and UCI reached an agreement for a variance (which they call a “derogation,” but we don’t like using that term, due to its double meaning).

Anyway, they worked out a variance on certain UCI rules, paving the way for the Grands to be a UCI calendar event—hence the reason the AA Pro and Pro Women classes were “Elite Men” and “Elite Women” for the first time this year.

Alise Post at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Alise Post was running her dual UCI/USA BMX #1 Plate and Rainbow Jersey.

Shawn DiPrete  at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

2017 was the first time in recent memory we have not seen Dan’s Comp vending at the Grands.

Shawn DiPrete, above, was suited up for another sponsor, while a few were still running the kit they started 2017 with. DiPrete went out in the semis on the 20-inch, but got third in 46-50 Cruiser.

Hoping to see Dan’s back in the mix in the new year.

Rumors were strong that USA BMX, on its visit to town, inked the deal for their new HQ complex near downtown. This is the former US Steel site that BMX News has previously reported on. No official statement on this, but that was the chatter.

Bill Husada and Dale Holmes  at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Yess BMX was set up with a nice end-cap display showing off their 2017 Grands concept build, the Show Stopper (as reported on News last week). Bill and Renny Husada showed they are not ones to hold grudges for what happens online, as they took photos with many of the folks who took shots at their products, belt drive frames in particular. (Photo via Dale Holmes’ Facebook)

Pro Spectacular Laser Show

The Pro Spectacular was well attended, as it normally is. We enjoyed the laser show and the race action, but felt the rider introductions and other “front matter” before the first gate dropped went a little long (though we always enjoy Shannon Brown Silva’s rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner”).

Supercross BMX wins the 2017 Golden Crank Award  at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

The 2017 Golden Crank Awards were handed out during the Pro Spectacular Program.
Here are the winners:
Rookie Pro: Alec Bob
Pro: Alise Post
Bike: Supercross (above)
Team: Full Tilt

2017 NAG 5 Challenge Girls Main Event

The NAG 5 Challenge main event for the girls. Esja Shriver and Emily Hayes are on the left, in the middle of a bad wreck that would send Hayes to the hospital with a broken elbow and broken hand. It was Lexis Colby (4) with the NAG 5 Challenge win, with Stephani Morin (7) in second and Natalee Daugherty in third.

Elite Women Podium at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

On Saturday night, the title chases are always such a big deal that the win-of-the-day often gets overlooked. Not this year, as rookie pro Sophia Foresta took the top step after three mains where the planets aligned just-right in the points. A first turn wreck in the second main put Alise on 9 points, along with Brooke Crain and Lauren Reynolds. In the final main, Alise took it wire to wire.

Brooke was in second into turn two, but decided to go to the right in the decisionmaker, and got slowed down enough to let Foresta by for the second place finish this lap, with Crain lunging at the line to edge-out Drew Mechielsen for third.

Connor Fields at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

The AA title was a two-man race coming in to the Grands. Chase BMX headliners, Connor Fields and Joris Daudet were a big part of the pre-race hype, as everyone was looking forward to seeing it play out.

History, of sorts, would be made either way, with either Joris capturing the title three years in a row (which had not happened since the 2004,2005, 2006 run of Bubba Harris), or Connor being the first American to hoist the cup since Randy Stumpfhauser in 2009. Fate dealt a card on Friday, as Joris was suffering through a bout of food poisoning, and had to sit out (probably quite literally) the second and third mains, giving Connor a serious edge into the Saturday night show.

The second main was the heart-stopper for the capacity crowd, as Sylvain Andre was leading, and Joris had the inside on Connor into turn two.

They both drifted high-and-wide on the turn. It almost looked like the teammates might take each other out, but they pulled it back from the brink and, incredibly, Connor ended up staying in second place down the third straight. That main ended up with Andre in first, Fields in second and Trent Jones in third (Joris was fifth).

The final race of the evening saw Anthony Dean take the win, with Fields in second, Niek Kimmann in third and Joris in Fourth.

Rewinding to the first main (pictured above), it was Fields, Dean and Daudet.

Dylan Wood at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Dylan Wood was king of 14 cruiser, with a first round transfer and a main event win in the 35-rider class. He also scored a fourth in 14x.

Anthony Dean, Connor Fields and Joris Daudet  at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Boostin it over “the beach,” in the Saturday night pro Spectacular, Anthony Dean, Connor Fields and Joris Daudet.

The build crew opted for a sand motif to fill the gap this year, replacing the water jump of the past two years. It was a great idea, really, since the sand was less intimidating than water (or fire), so lots-more people went to the right.

We have to admit, however, that it is certainly entertaining to see guys go in the drink after misjudging the landing.

But, as one insider put it “when the 16-hour race day is over on Sunday, then you have to drain it, and clean up a big mess of mud. Sand is much cleaner.” Connor got the win of the day in AA, with Dean in second and Nederlander Niek Kimmann in third.

Alise Post Takes the stage at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

On the awards stage, Alise would get her 10th Cup (fifth as a pro), and second place for the day.

The win tied her with Dominique Daniels for the most pro titles in ABA/USA BMX history. The year-end prize money was equal this year, at $10,000. Women stayed the same as 2016, while the men dropped $5k.

Gavin Freewalt at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Gavin Freewalt had a pretty good trip to Tulsa. A win at the ROC in 14x, a Grands win in 15x (which was particularly well-earned), and his first NAG 1 plate. He stacked up four #1 plates this year (State, Gold Cup, ROC and NAG). Only one left to get to complete the set (no, it’s not District). That work is already underway.

Madelynn DeSantis at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Madelynn DeSantis was one of a few names that could clinch the Girl Cruiser title going in to the Grands weekend. When all the gates had dropped and every tire crossed the stripe, she was the one with the cup.

Mike and Connor Fields at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Connor’s dad, Mike, joins the stage show for a photo op with the newly-crowned champ. Olympic Gold in 2016, now the USA BMX title in 2017. Could a UCI World title in 2018 be the trifecta CF11 is shooting for?

Robby Patterson at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Robby Patterson puttin the ponies down into turn one of the Grands Main event. Robby took the win in 26-30 Cruiser, and third in 19-27x.

Danica Anderson at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

It is said that Danica Anderson has never lost a lap in Tulsa. Lil Avalanche is making bigger and bigger noise every trip to town. This time, it was a triple (9-10 Mixed Open, 10-Under Girl Cruiser and 10 Girls).

Answer/Rennen wins the 2017 USA BMX Factory Team title

Answer/Rennen was back on the Sunday Night stage to accept the coveted #1 Factory Team cup.

Bogus rumors as to the team disbanding for 2018 were put down emphatically by team owner, George Costa, saying on social media “…We plan on defending this title and going for the 3 peat, then guess what we will look for a 4 peat and so on.” Team Venom, out of Minnesota, got the Bike Shop title.

Paul Cruz at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Donny Robinson was up in the Track Operator’s hospitality room on Saturday, spreading the word about the Beginners-only BMX Racing League program that helps new riders get confident on the pedals before being thrown to the wolves in “professional novice” class.

This is Paul Cruz, from Chicago. He and his brother Marco graduated from the league at Imagination Glen in Indiana about six weeks ago, and took their skills to Tulsa to tussle with the best their class had to offer.

Both Cruz brothers made the 7 Novice main, taking fourth and fifth, respectively. Good stuff going on in the grassroots.

Addison Finch at the 2017 USA BMX Grand NationalAddie Finch was in a world of hurt during the most important race of the year–especially on Sunday. Fever, chills and all-manner of heaving made it less than heaven as the clock ticked down to going up for the main event. As we understand it, she was out-back puking in a trash can mere-minutes before this photo was taken, then came back into the Expo center and said “let’s get this done.” And done, it was, with a winning main event lap in 16G.

Marshall Gehrke  at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Answer/Rennen had three cups to display on the stage when it was all said and done: the #1 Factory Team Cup, Brandon Crain’s #1 Amateur cup, and this guy’s. The major, Marshall Gehrke rockin out of turn one, en route to the 10 Cruiser win, and the #1 Cruiser title. He also won 10X in the process.

Brandon Crain at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Speaking of the Birdman, Brandon Crain, he ended up just-off-the stage, in the #2 spot, last year (to Jesse Welch), but fortune smiled on the 13x class this year, with 76 riders and some solid on-track stuff, too.

Jason Carnes Berm Academy  at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

It was Happy Anniversary for Jason Carnes and his Berm Academy tour program. The company was launched at last year’s Grands, and what a year it’s been. We have been trying to get Carnesie on the Announcers Tower Podcast for a while now. Looks like it’s going to happen soon, so look forward to that.

Box Components Carbon Rims at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Box Components had one of the most well-trafficked booths in the expo area, with some new stuff to show, like these proto-ala-moto carbon rims. They look like any other mild-mannered rims, right? But, they aren’t. #SuperManWings

Box was also showing their new disc brake setup, and the new silver colorway on parts, which replaces gold in the lineup. More and more, Tulsa is the place for seeing the latest and greatest in BMX product, both on the market and soon-to-come.

There was a time when folks would go to Interbike for that kind of thing, but over the years, as costs for booth space and show floor labor have risen, it has priced many BMX companies out of the game. More than a few were of the opinion that “this is OUR Interbike.”

It is both a blessing and a curse for USA BMX; the week is already so packed for those guys getting all the race prep dialed in…but to take that “Tulsa is the BMX industry’s Interbike” concept to the next level will require a new level of commitment. Perhaps a Monday/Tuesday trade show type environment, before the doors open to team setups on Weds. And on and on.

Katja Shriver at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

Throdwn’s Katja Shriver had a pretty incredible 2017 season, with a W1 win in Rock Hill, NAG 1 and the National #1 Amateur title for the girls.

The 11-year old from Lakewood, CA gave a very nice acceptance speech, which is one of the things BMX Racing does for participants: prepares them to take the stage at 11 years old and speak in front of a few thousand people.

Pretty awesome. Congrats on the awesome year, Katja!

Promax debuted this suh-weet commercial that got some play during breaks in the action.

Big props to Steve Diamond Elements for the creative wizardry.

Work like this steps up the game for everyone and puts a true-pro polish on BMX Racing.

Raul Gomez at the 2017 USA BMX Grand National

In the days after the race, friend of News, Raul Gomez, joined a few others in announcing his retirement from the national scene, saying in a social media post:

“I have decided that I’m going to be retiring from the national competition scene. I have been so blessed to have been able to compete and accomplish so much throughout the years in this great sport of BMX.

I love riding my bikes and will continue to do so for as long as I can. Thanks for all the support throughout the years I have received from everyone in the BMX community. Good times and great memories. Best of luck to everyone in 2018.”

In Tulsa, he finished third in 46-Over Expert and Fourth in 46-50 Cruiser. One of the good guys, for sure, and we’ll definitely miss seeing him at the races.

We hope you enjoyed the above. Use the links below to check out our photo galleries from the weekend.


2017 Grands Photo Gallery – Saturday

2017 Grands Photo Gallery – Sunday