The 2011 Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) season will soon be upon us and according to Trail Boss Jeff Russell there are a few exciting new additions to this year’s series. Russell, the 1991 AMA National Enduro Champion, is in charge of setting the courses (among other things) and he tells us the ’11 season will have at least two (and maybe three) new venues on the schedule, in addition to a few other surprises.
Dirt Rider: First of all, I know you guys are plenty busy during the season, but what do you do during the off season?
Jeff Russell: We pretty much have our hands full going through all of our equipment, getting it ready for when the season starts. We have some four-wheelers and skid-steer loaders we use to set up the courses in addition to all the other machinery, and we’re just trying to eliminate any breakdowns.
DR: Most people don’t realize how much equipment you guys bring to each round. It’s almost like a rolling road show.
JR: We call it our travelling circus. It’s kind of overwhelming at times. We have two 53′ semi-trailers that we take, and then we take a water truck and another trailer with the podium in it. That’s not counting our scoring trailer and a sign up trailer that comes to every round.
DR: What new things can we expect at this year’s series?
JR: We’re redesigning the finish line area, to spice it up a little. We’re also going to have a new results board and we’re going to put a new wrap on the scoring trailer. Plus we’re going to at least two new venues, one near Indy and one in Pennsylvania. And we’re working on another new area that might happen this year.
DR: For anyone thinking about getting into GNCC racing, what can he expect from the average course?
JR: The average course is eight to 12 miles long and we try to make it as spectator-friendly as we can. The perfect scenario is to have a nice pit area with the start and finish and then cloverleaf the course back and forth around that area so there’s racing on each side of the pits and the spectators can see the riders as often as possible. We also make sure we pay close attention to the needs of the lower class riders, so the course is not too difficult for them but still challenging enough for the upper classes. We want all of these guys to have fun and enjoy the event.
DR: The series actually covers a wide range of terrain over the course of the year.
JR: Yeah, we start the year in the Florida sand and then we move on to the red clay of Georgia and then the rocks of the northern courses. And the way it’s set up, the guys in the south can do several of the first rounds and then if they’re in the running they only have to make a few trips north to get enough races in; and the same goes for the guys who live up north. We’re also trying to go into new areas because we know that the riders like new challenges.
DR: How is this year’s series shaping up?
JR: It’s looking like it’s going to be a great year. We have most of last year’s teams back and a few new teams and riders are expressing interest about going racing, so it should be exciting.