Another season of EnduroCross is officially in the books, and the explosive young series definitely didn’t disappoint. 2009 was packed with wild highs, disappointing lows and six crazy rounds of unbelievable racing. Rather than give you a play by play of the entire season, Dirt Rider decided to take a look back at some of the most memorable riders, moments and events from the ’09 Geico EnduroCross Series Presented by E3 Spark Plugs. Read on to see what really went down this season.2009 Geico EnduroCross
Taddy BlazusiakComing into the ’09 EX series, Polish superstar Taddy Blazusiak was without a doubt the man to beat. The talented Red Bull/ KTM rider had an enormous target on his back from the very start of the series, yet he still managed to find his focus and dominate the first three races on the schedule, followed by a strong second place at round four. By the time Taddy continued his winning ways at round five, his points lead was too big for anyone else to touch and the Championship was all Blazusiak. The trials rider-turned-extreme-enduro-star went into the final round of the series with hopes of taking home the $50,000 Geico Triple Crown, but it just wasn’t meant to be. A hard third-turn crash left Blazusiak limping to a fifth place finish while rival racer Ricky Dietrich bagged the win and prevented Taddy from taking home the big check. But even with a relatively disappointing end to the series, Taddy had one heck of a year: Between the 2009 Geico EnduroCross #1 plate and his huge wins at the Erzberg Rodeo, Hells Gate and The Tough One hard enduros, Blazusiak surely can’t help but smile when he thinks back on 2009.E3 Spark Plugs Pro Junior Champion
Colton HaakerCreated as a “series within a series,” the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Junior Championship honored the younger stars of the Geico EnduroCross series and recognized the top rider between the ages of 16 and 21. Going in, nobody predicted that this simple championship would turn into one of the closest battles of the entire series. Lucas Oil’s Colton Haaker and Canadian Cory Graffunder duked it out until the very last main event, but it was Haaker who was able to find the extra speed needed to secure the Pro Junior Championship. In addition to the honor of top Junior rider, Haaker also secured an impressive fourth place overall in the series, making him a serious podium threat and a major pain in the neck to some of the older guys.Consistency Award
Taddy Blazusiak, Geoff Aaron, Damon Huffman, Colton Haakerand Cory GraffunderEveryone knows that being consistent is essential to doing well in the EnduroCross series, but only five riders were actually able to achieve this goal in 2009. Taddy Blazusiak, Geoff Aaron, Damon Huffman, Colton Haaker and Cory Graffunder were the only riders to make every single main event in the 2009 series, and it comes as no surprise that they also took the top five respective spots in the final point standings. A note to all you aspiring EnduroCross racers out there: You can’t win the war unless you’re at the front of every battle!Spoiler Award
Geoff AaronBy the time the series made its fourth stop in Columbus, Ohio, Red Bull/ KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak was feeling pretty good about himself. Needless to say, Taddy must have been shocked when Christini-mounted Geoff Aaron officially put it to him in the main event, ending the win streak and stealing valuable overall points. Aaron, who is best known for his ten AMA Trials Championships, rode a great race to secure the win, which was his first victory in five solid years of trying.Wildest Get-Off
Phil SmageTrials rider and EnduroCross regular Phil Smage is usually one of the smoothest riders on the track, but he managed to scare the crap out of everyone with an enormous crash in Florence, South Carolina. Smage was charging hard towards the always-treacherous boulder field when he took “carrying your momentum” a little too far. Generally, the boulder section is NOT a spot you want to whiskey throttle into-especially when the safest landing zone is littered with the square timbers of the Matrix obstacle. Needless to say, his ride made for a wild photo and a scary moment. Luckily, DR’s Executive Editor Jesse Ziegler was on hand to grab the shot, and Smage walked away with only minor bumps and bruises.
Ricky DietrichIt was a long, grueling season for defending EnduroCross champion Ricky Dietrich. Splitting his time between the EnduroCross series and working as a replacement rider for the Monster Energy Kawasaki Motocross team, Dietrich put in more hours on the test track and more time in the gym than ever before, and it certainly showed in his results. However, the young racer had to work through his fair share of issues after a gnarly foot injury at round two in Guthrie left him on the sidelines, and a difficult return two races later saw Dietrich struggle to just make the main event, where he finished a disappointing tenth. Nevertheless, Ricky kept doing his homework and culminated the season with a convincing win in Las Vegas. He may not have hung on to his #1 plate, but Ricky Dietrich definitely made it clear that he isn’t afraid to charge.Best Rookie Performance
Graham JarvisWhen former Red Bull Romaniacs hard enduro winner Graham Jarvis flew into Nevada for his very first U.S. EnduroCross, nobody knew what to expect from the former FIM Trails Champion. But after Jarvis spanked the field in his heat races, you’d better believe that the UK-based racer earned a bit more respect from his peers. Although he was only able to muster a 10th in the main, Jarvis made it clear that he has what it takes to run up front in the American EnduroCross scene. “There are some fast riders over here, but to be honest I’d only really seen Taddy ride before so I didn’t know how to compare myself,” Jarvis commented after the race. “I had fun, and I’d really like to do more of these in the future!”Privateer Award
Steve LeivanOutside of the spotlight and away from the big rigs of the Factory teams, scores of loyal privateer racers travel to each EnduroCross race to test their luck against the toughest competitors on earth. In ’09, 17-time Missouri State Hare Scrambles Champion Steve Leivan put his heart and soul into the EnduroCross game, and although he didn’t knock down any giants he came away with solid results. In the Vet 35+ class, Leivan earned four podium finishes (including three wins) and a respectable sixth at the final round in Las Vegas, which was more than enough for the series points lead in his class. Not bad for a full-on privateer!Biggest Inspiration
Charlie Williams”Trail Rider Charlie” is nothing more than your average, everyday diehard EnduroCross fan, and he can be found contesting the Vet 35+ class at select EX rounds across the country. On the night of September 12th, Mr. Williams dug deeper than ever and came away with a hard-fought victory over JGR’s Spencer Bloomer in the main event. Huffing and puffing, sweating and steaming, Charlie took the checkers, putted over to the podium and gave what has to be the most down to earth, dead-honest podium speech in the history of EnduroCross. By crediting bacon and adult beverages as two keys to his success, Charlie Williams made himself a classic hero and an instant inspiration to all the real riders in the crowd.Top Amateur
Eric RodgersA familiar face on the EnduroCross circuit, Geico’s Eric Rodgers made short work of the Open Amateur class at the EnduroCross Grand Championship in Las Vegas. Riding the same machine that he competed on last year, Rodgers’ main competition came from his speedy brother, Ryan. There’s no doubt that both of these kids have what it takes to race against the big boys.Underrated Award
Jamie LanzaOf all the racers on the EX series, Jamie Lanza just may be the most underrated. With an unassuming personality and an all-business riding style, Lanza posted several top tens in the pro class and finished well ahead of several big-name riders in the process. One of the physically smallest competitors on the circuit, Lanza may not get the most attention for his efforts, but he certainly lets his riding do the talking for him.Sleeper Award
Damon HuffmanWhile most of the ’09 EnduroCross hype was focused on Taddy and the battle for the top spot, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Damon Huffman was quietly gathering points at every round. He didn’t score any major victories, but the 1997 FIM World Supercross Champion was a sleeper in the EX series, and Huffman’s calm consistency and determination allowed him to secure a third place finish in the overall points standings. As of press time, Huffman’s plans for 2010 are up in the air, but there’s no doubt that the talented racer still has the speed to be a top contender.
The MatrixSure, everything on an EnduroCross course can be considered difficult, but the grueling Matrix section quickly came to be known as the trickiest obstacle that the EnduroCross track builders could devise. By bolting together an intricate series of timbers and logs at varying intervals, EX course mastermind Shane Schaeffer caused pure chaos for nearly every rider at every track. Anytime the Matrix was set up it became an instant trap for full-size bikes, and even the trials racers had trouble negotiating this tricky section. It seemed that only Geoff Aaron’s long legs and two-wheel-drive Christini motorcycle was a formidable match for the Matrix.Most Improved Rider
Cory GraffunderTwo seasons ago, Cory Graffunder was regarded as the lanky Canadian with solid speed and a maple leaf on his otherwise blank helmet. But in 2009, Cory became known as a serious threat and a consistent top-five racer. What changed? “The thing that made the biggest difference for me was being able to quit working and to put all my effort into training,” says Cory. “Last winter I quit working as a mechanic at a dirt bike shop, and being able to go in the gym all the time and ride all year to put the time and effort in that you really need to become a professional, that’s what made the difference in my results.”Entertainer of the Year
Jerry BernardoIf you’ve ever seen Jerry Bernardo in action, you’d know that the man is certifiably insane. As the main announcer for the EnduroCross series, Bernardo gets to call the race action and interview the top pros in front of the whole crowd, and yet he still doesn’t seem to take his job seriously. With incredible wit and a lightning-fast sense of humor, Uncle Jerry singlehandedly created a ton of energy and excitement every time he grabbed the mic. Unfortunately, Bernardo will have moved overseas by the time you read this, meaning that there will be some big shoes to fill on the EnduroCross podium in 2010.Top New Team
Zip-Ty Racing HusqvarnaWhat do you get when you combine three talented riders and one super-fast team manager with the latest in Italian technology? The Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna squad, that’s what! Led by off-road hero Ty Davis, the Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna team did damage at every major EnduroCross this year and helped put the all-new TC250 into the off-road spotlight. With consistent finishes from team riders Cory Graffunder and Gary Sutherlin and a support class win in Oklahoma courtesy of desert ace Nick Burson, this dialed-in team turned heads everywhere it went. When you add in the fact that Ty is also keeping his successful shop (www.ziptyracing.com) going at full speed, it becomes extremely apparent just how dedicated these guys are.Fan favorite
“Wild” Wally PalmerYou’ve got to hand it to Wally Palmer: The kid is faster than blazes when he wants to be, and he can take a beating like nobody else. Although Palmer ended the EX series a distant 22nd in points, his wild riding style and “pin-it-to-win-it” mentality brought the crowd to its feet every time he hit the track.Don’t forget to check out www.endurocross.com for scheduling, ticket and entry information regarding the 2010 EnduroCross series!