Flat Track Article Round #1
Pitchin’ It Sideways at Camp Lockett
By Steve Caro
Photography by Kathryn Caro
Campo, CA June 11-12
It was time to put on your best Scott Parker, Bart Markel or Mert Lawill impersonation and get ready to go left as CALVMX made their anticipated return to Camp Lockett Park for a weekend of flat track racing. After the success of their brief series staged in late 2015, the staff of CALVMX launched their inaugural flat track series for 2016 with a scheduled four-race series. The opening round featured classes for both knobby and Class-C tire bikes, quads, three-wheelers and a special appearance by members of the San Diego Karting Association.
A brand new ¼ mile course constructed in the back portion of the Camp Lockett facility greeted racers Saturday morning. With the guidance of flat track experts Rudy Gil, Elliot Iverson and his son Eli, the track was “ripped” and heavily watered before opening day and then graded and compacted to provide a great racing surface.
Two wheels were the featured attraction on Saturday’s schedule, with both knobby and traditional Class-C bikes taking to the track. The Class-C flat trackers took to the course first, with great duels featured in virtually every class. Honda mounted Byron Kukla notched double main event wins, using a smooth style to win both 70’s Singles Expert and Open Expert classes. Joining him on the podium was John Garcia (Hon) in Senior Vet 50 Plus Expert, while Ken Shilling (Yam) and Shawn Chamblee (Yam) dressed in their distinctive green/white Booze Fighters MC leathers took home the gold in 50 Plus 70’s Singles Intermediate and Open Bike Intermediate.
The ladies of racing took to the track with Honda mounted Monica Gil displaying impressive style taking the main event win in Powder Puff Intermediate along with a well-earned third in the Open Bike Intermediate division. Veteran competitor Chris Roysdon (Yam) topped the Powder Puff Novices, while Shari Maney (Yam) stepped away from her scorer’s duty to take the win in Powder Puff Beginner over Debbie Vrettas (Hon). The youngest of all the female competitors was Summer Kukla who powered her way around the course to take the trophy in the Youth 12 & Under Beginner on her Honda.
Flat tracking with knobby tires allows for a different style in which the riders can use their MX cornering style of squaring off the turn and blasting out of the corners. Former factory pro Scott Burnworth (Ossa) and Zach Vogt (KTM) displayed that style with a spirited battle in the Open Knobby Expert class. Burnworth’s 40-year-old Spanish machine proved to be an equal match for Vogt’s modern KTM, allowing Burnworth to capture the main event win followed by Vogt.
While Burnworth and Vogt dominated the expert ranks, Ted Kukla and Ray Zuchowski, both Yamaha mounted, took the top two spots in the Intermediate main event, while Steve Prarke (Kaw) and Dalton Collie (Suz) topped the Novice and Beginner main events.
Sunday’s schedule featured two, three and four wheeled competition, with ten races on the schedule. The two-wheeled classes were Class-C only and featured top notch, bar-to-bar action in numerous classes. In Sportsman 50 Plus Expert, Jeff Apple used the power of his classic Triumph twin cylinder machine (the only twin entered in any class) to take the main event win, the distinctive sound of the British twin easily discernable from the horde of two and four-stroke singles. Apple also topped the Pre-1974 Sportsman Expert division. John Farmer joined Apple in the winner’s column with a win in 70’s Single Beginner, while Steve Kukla (Hon) added to the family win total, taking first in Open Senior 60 Plus Expert, while son Byron and granddaughter Summer topped Open Expert, 70’s Single Expert and Youth Under 12.
74-year-old John Apple has been around flat track for decades. On both Saturday and Sunday, Apple, a stroke survivor, took to the track on his original ex-Cal Rayborn brakeless Harley Davidson/Aermacchi Sprint. The senior Apple took class wins in Classic 500 Expert on both days.
When the three-wheelers took to the track, the two racers to watch were Tanner Pies and Tom DeCrescente. Longtime rivals both on the ovals and MX courses, the highly skilled duo battled each other in both their heat and main events. Pitching their classic two-stroke Hondas completely sideways and throwing up huge clouds of Camp Lockett soil, neither gave an inch and it took a classic short track move “love tap” by Pies to grab enough of a lead to take the main event win.
A strong showing of ten quad racers took to the track with their own unique style of cornering on display. With more stability than their three wheeled counterparts, broadsliding corners sprint car style is the norm. Ricardo Gonzales (Yam) used a smooth style to take the Open A class, with Eric Hartwell (Yam) and Danny Prather (Hon) rounding out the podium. In the Open B main, it was Mike Weaver (Yam) taking the win, with Daric Bailey (Hon) and Steve Kerchner (Yam) second and third, while Kevin Ellswurth kept his big bore Suzuki “Quadzilla” pointed straight to top the Beginner class.
Without a doubt, the most unique racing of the day was in the Kart classes. With drivers ranging in age from seven to adult, the speedy little racers put on quite a show. Sitting about one inch off the ground, the racers hands and feet were in constant motion as they struggled to stay out of the hay bales ringing the track as they searched for the perfect line thru the corners. Winners included Braydin Collie in Junior A, his brother Daltin in KPV 2 Junior A and Randi Vian in KPV 4 Senior Kart A.
Racing will return to Camp Lockett July 30th-31st for round two of the four race series. For any rider who’s ever thought of trying their hand at “going sideways”, the CALVMX series offers the opportunity, with classes for every bike and rider available.
Further photos and race coverage can be found at: