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Blais Racing takes 3rd and 4th Overall at the BITD Parker 250!

BITD Parker 250 
1/11/2014
 
By: Skyler Howes, #N16
 
The Parker 250 would mark my first race of the 2014 season. I had the awesome opportunity to team up the 250-mile race with fellow Blais Racing rider, 15 year old Sammy Bangert, in the Open Pro class on my KTM 300XC. I came into this race with an open mind, being that it was my first ever BITD race. I was ready to learn the way things work, the different terrain and the pace of the riders. I was confident that we could hold a solid pace but our competition was fierce.
 
Skyler Howes on the start line.
 
I lined up early on Saturday morning ready to tackle my first 30 miles to where I would hand off the bike to Sam (at the alternate pit). Officials were nice enough to delay the start 1 hour so this allowed a little more light and a higher temperature. The weather was already amazing enough that I didn’t even need to wear a jacket. First off the line was Dave Pearson followed by Ricky Brabec, Jordan Kundert and myself in 4th, all 1 minute apart from each other. I hit the course and pinned it. I decided to wear my tinted Xbrand goggles for when the sun came up but still in the dark it made things a little tricky. I chose some weird lines, hit some jumps faster than I should have but still kept it pinned. I kept wishing for the sun to come up to give us a little more light but the second it crested the hill I was instantly wishing for it to go right back down. We were headed perfectly into the sun and with the dust it made it so hard to see. I was yelling at my self, thinking that I was losing time from going so slow but coming into the alternate pit where Sam was waiting, we were all staying almost exactly on our minute.
 
We had a fast pit and Sam was on his way with the team of Justin Morrow and Nick Burson just behind us. I sat down, ate some food and patiently waited for Sam to ride his 80-mile section back to me.
 
As each rider came in, I was getting more and more anxious for Sammy to roll in. A couple of teams that started behind us came in and I got nervous hoping that nothing happened. Sam eventually came pinning it down pit row yelling that he had ran out of gas! It turns out that he was almost to the main pit where he had to push the bike in to get fuel and then ride back to that point and continue the race. My other teammate Ben, had a water bottle full of fuel and I yelled at him to throw it in my pack just in case I run out as well. I hopped on the bike, put my head down and held that old girl to the stop, throttle south mate! I quickly came up on a few UTV’s and was able to make quick passes, staying out of the dust. 
 
Coming around a bend, I saw a rider that started behind us a few miles up ahead with quite a bit of dust in front of him. I knew that I could charge hard while he was fighting the dust. In some really whooped out trails, I eventually caught the dust train. I rode smart in through the dust and was able to pass Matt Canepa back for 4th overall. I took a wide line and passed the next UTV and the quad ahead of that was nice enough to pull to the side and let me pass. All clear air from there on the fastest part of the course! 
 
With my DirtTricks Sprockets geared just right, FMF exhaust and JD Jetting 38mm carb, we had that 300 two stroke tapping out somewhere around 95 mph and I held it there as long as I could to make time back up. Then came the goat trail. Everyone told me that this race was nothing but wide-open roads even when it got to the rock section. They lied! The goat trail was straight Supercross whoops with bowling ball sized rocks through them. I tried to session as best as I could but kept getting thrown from the cupped out whoops and all the rocks around, it was tough! I charged on into the next wash, passed a few UTV’s and into the sand whoop section. I took a glance down at that point and noticed that I had about 1” of fuel left in my tank. I turned down the pace quite a bit and started to baby the bike through this entire next section making sure to conserve fuel. I made it to the point of not seeing any fuel left in the tank and decided to stop and dump the extra fuel in. Some guys in a UTV were nice enough to help me with that and I made my way into the “Python”. 
 
Still babying the bike through, I approached my pit where the bike ran out of gas as I coasted into my pit. I was topped off and back on for the 30-mile sand wash section back to the alternate pit. The feeling of being completely tapped through a sand wash, flowing through the corners is awesome, I couldn’t even begin to describe it. Our Kenda tires hooked up so good and kept me planted through all of the hard pack, silt, gravel and rocks. I came back around to the Midway pit and handed the bike off to Sammy for his last leg to the finish.
 
While there, I learned that the THR team of Ricky and Robby had broke so this put us into 3rd Overall. I cut our 10 minute deficit in half so it gave us more breathing room. I am so proud of Sammy for riding as hard as he did completely mistake free. He kept us right where we needed to be and even when the rear foam insert melted on him he pushed forward and pulled in for a finish. This put us officially in 3rd overall!! Shortly after came the other Blais Racing team of Ben Meza and Brendan Crow who took 4th overall and 1st in the Open Expert class! I am so pumped for our entire team and extremely blessed for the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing racing family. Also for each and every one of my sponsors that make this possible: Blais Racing Services, Fasst Company, KTM, ESR suspension, Race Tech, RAD Mfg, Freegun, Alpinestars, Kenda, Pro Moto Billet, Fastway, FMF , Rekluse, HBD Motografx, Regina, TLD, BRP, Bullet Proof, DirtTricks, Eline, IMS, No Toil, Acerbis, Muscle Milk, Xbrand Goggles, A'ME Grips, TMFG Designs and Bike Week Radio.
 
 
By: Sam Bangert, Open Pro, #N16
 
For the BITD Parker 250, I teamed up with my teammate and homie, Skyler Howes. We would be racing Skyler’s 300 in the Open Pro class. My first time ever on a bike that size was Friday after tech. I was really excited and pretty nervous about racing in the Pro class against some really fast riders and role models. 
 
Sam Bangert on Skyler's Blais Racing KTM 300XC. Photo by Mark Kariya
 
The race started before the sun was up so we got to sleep early the night before. The course was about 80 miles long - 30 miles to the Midway pit, and 50 more miles to the Main pit/finish. 
 
Skyler started and then handed the bike off to me running 4th place overall. I got on the bike with Nick Burson right on my coat tails. I held him off until about mile 50-something and he passed me with a flat tire. Unbelievable! The flat gave and the tire came off the rim so I was able to pass him back. 
 
Coming through the python my bike started to sputter. “Oh #@%$” I thought (sorry mom). I was out of gas. I started to think of all the bikes behind me and sprinted as fast as I could to our pit! I only got passed by one bike and I was out again in 5th racing ahead to get back that position. We were in 5th when I handed the bike off to Skyler. As I waited in the pits we heard N1 was out which put us back into 4th place. As I filled back up with some proteins, the bikes started to come in again so I got prepared to get back on the bike. Skyler came in at 3rd this time! I was ready for the battle. 
 
This last 50 miles was very tough because of the lappers but I was able to make my way around quite good. On the last section where we went under the bridge, my rear moose blew tossing me completely sideways. I kept it wide hoping for the best and was able to pull it off. I made my way to the finish thinking “Wow, with no suspension testing, and running out of gas twice, 3rd is pretty good”. 
 
I want to thank Pro Cut for paying our entry fee and making it possible for us to do this fun fast race, also my mom and dad, Skyler for being my teammate and putting up the bike, and all my sponsors: Blais Racing, Fasst Company, Race Tech, ESR Troy Lee Designs, MuscleMilk, Cytomax, Vonzipper, Alpinestar, Asterisk, Amsoil, Rad Mfg, Dirt Tricks, Notoil, Kenda FMF, And God. Till next time Yee! Yee!  
 
 
By: Ben Meza, Open Expert #304
 
The first race on my calendar was the BITD Parker 250. About a month ago Chris Blais sent me a message asking me if I would race it. Of course I agreed and we then started preparation on the Brendan's KTM 300. Brendan and I would team up in the Open Expert Class. After two long weeks of preparation race day came up quick.
 
Ben Meza (pictured) and Brendan Crow take the Open Expert win aboard their Blais Racing/ Fasstco KTM 300XC.  Photo by Mark Kariya
 
We got to Parker, AZ the Friday before the race and did some final testing after sign ups. We got some rest and then woke up bright and early Saturday to race. I was going to start and later hand it off to Brendan who would do a complete lap and then return the bike to me for another lap, after which I would pass it off to him for a final time.
 
I got to the start line around 6:15 and waited for the 7:30 start time. Finally the time had come and the first few bikes began the 250 mile race. One by one they took off until it was my turn. I sat there patiently waiting for the red light to turn green, and then I was off! With a quick adrenaline rush I pinned it through the roads! I was catching riders instantly and was moving great! I had a great pace going until the sun came out blinding anything in it's direction. I tried to keep up my fast pace but knew it would be better to just be smart. I got the bike to Brendan 30 miles in and knew the next 75 miles were up to him. I sat at the pit waiting for about 2 hours until it was time to get ready again. Sam have Skyler the bike about 10 minutes before Brendan got the bike to me. 
 
Brendan had gotten us up to 7th Overall and first in class. I put down a clean fast lap and ended up catching all the way up to 4th Overall. From that point on, Brendan ride the bike to the finish to give us the 1st Place Open A win and 4th Overall! I couldn't be more pleased with how the race went! The two Blais Racing Teams went 3-4 which is awesome! I'm so blessed to have the opportunity to be on such an amazing team! We put in a lot of time to prepare for the race, and it definitely paid off! 
 
I want to say thanks to my dad for not only supporting me at the race, but for supporting my whole racing career. Thanks to all the sponsors that give us the ability to race almost every weekend, without all of you none of this would be possible. Of course I have to give it up to God for giving me such opportunities and always keeping me safe! 
 
Thanks!
Ben 557 
 
 
By: Brendan Crow, Open Expert #304
 
To understand the feelings that I have after racing the BITD Parker 250, you must first understand the two weeks leading up to the race. I had fallen while riding my bicycle in the end of December, and was worried that I could have damaged my shoulder in the crash. I had a lot of pain and discomfort in various parts of my shoulder, so I scheduled to have it looked at the first Friday in January. The visit went well! My shoulder was x-rayed, and showed that there were no broken bones. With all of the discomfort I was still having, my doctor suggested that I have an MRI done to make sure that there was no damage to muscles or tissues that could eventually come back to haunt me in the future. Scheduling and having my MRI done was a nightmare! I was unable to get anywhere until Tuesday and finally scheduled the MRI for Wednesday (2 days prior to the race).
 
Brendan Crow roosting it on his Blais Racing KTM 300XC.  Photo by Mark Kariya
 
In the days between my first doctor visit and the MRI I had begun working to get mobility back on my own, being optimistic that I would be ready to go by race day. I was still very uncomfortable and did not have much strength with my shoulder, but things had begun to look much better. The next wrench in my plans came with the news that I wouldn’t be able to see my doctor until 9:15 on Friday. Talk about calling it close! I was going to be riding the race with my teammate Ben Meza, and we had planned on heading out to parker Friday morning. I told him to get everything ready, and expect my call with the news of my doctor visit. 

Friday morning came along, and I was pretty nervous knowing that this visit would not only determine racing in Parker, but the beginning of the NHHA series only a few weeks away as well. As you may have figured out, my visit went well! The doctor told me I was good to go, although I had banged the hell out of it and it would be sore for quite awhile. Less than 24 hours before the race I left happy and ready to race.

Parker was definitely an interesting race. I had never done a BITD race so I didn’t really know what to expect. I got on the bike at the alternate pit, and would ride roughly 80 miles back to that same pit and wait for Ben to return before I would ride to the finish. The race started very early, so we were left riding into the sun for most of the first loop. On the big roads I felt great, and I had a lot of fun riding at those speeds. The slower and rougher terrain was very challenging for me, as I was lacking strength in my injured shoulder to ride properly. If it wasn’t for my Flexx bars I don’t know if I would have been able to ride at all. I had a few moments that made me realize I could not ride a fast pace and feel confident doing so, therefore I slowed down my intensity and tried to ride smooth and smart. The race went by quickly, and I was happy with the team’s result. 

I was proud with our Open Expert 1st Place win, but surprised that we had been able to move ourselves into 4th overall for the race! Both of the Blais Racing Teams did fantastic, and I want to thank my teammate Ben for riding amazing which allowed me to tone it down and make it safely to the finish. I also couldn’t have gone to this race without the support of the entire Blais Team and all of our sponsors: Blais Racing, FasstCo, KTM, Race tech, ESR, No Toil, TLD, Alpinestars, Kenda, IMS, BRP, A’ME grips, Dirt Tricks, HBD, Rekluse, Bulletproof Designs, Fastway, Xbrand goggles, Acerbis, FMF
 

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