2019 Johnson Valley Hare & Hound Race Report

Slow start and a fast finish for Argubright, with Brabec second after skipping 2018

Jacob Argubright
Although he got off to a somewhat slow start that forced him to play catch-up, Jacob Argubright managed to pass everyone in front of him to grab the lead in the last half of the race to win the H&H season opener on a beautiful day in the SoCal desert.Mark Kariya

“It’s a lot of work being a privateer, but I can’t believe [I’m starting the year off winning two races],” Jacob Argubright mused.

The Off-road Support Kawasaki rider had done quite a bit of testing with TBT Racing to get his new KX450 ready for the Desert Motorcycle Club’s 52nd Annual Winter Classic outside of Lucerne Valley, California, round 1 of the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series, presented by FMF.

Ricky Brabec
Two-time series champ Ricky Brabec claimed he was a bit rusty after skipping the Nationals last year. He still showed plenty of speed when he wasn’t tipping over en route to second. However, due to rally commitments, he’ll miss two Nationals, putting him behind in the point chase.Mark Kariya

In fact, if it hadn’t been for TBT getting Argubright an FMF exhaust, he was prepared to run the stocker: “I was going to jam [a spark arrestor] insert in [the stock muffler] to pass tech! ‘Tuner’ (TBT’s Travis Flateau), luckily, got me one because they didn’t have any [in stock at FMF]! I think Little D (FMF’s Donny Emler) was welding it up himself!”

Despite the last-minute mods, things worked out well for Argubright at the race. A somewhat mediocre start had him second-guessing himself, but things worked out and he managed to work into the lead and come out on top. Two-time champ Ricky Brabec returned to the H&H scene after being away for a year to concentrate on rallies, and one week after returning from Dakar, the Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR) Honda star finished second with Beta’s Joe Wasson third.

Joe Wasson
Quick-starter Joe Wasson led much of the fast first loop, ceding the lead a few miles before the pits where he came through a close third. Although he lost a little ground on the more technical second loop, he held on for a solid third.Mark Kariya

“Toward the middle of the first loop, I felt like I was so far back—I was top 10 and I had to get around people—and I didn’t pass into fourth until this valley [near the end of the 40-mile first loop],” Argubright explained. “I was like, ‘There’s no way.’ ”

But things worked out for privateer Argubright, marking a bright start to his year.

As for Brabec, he admitted he was somewhat surprised to finish second—both because this was his first National since the end of 2017 and he hadn’t practiced since getting back from Dakar the week before.

Axel Pearson
Desert racers are tough! Axel Pearson shook off this fourth-gear tumble while coming back from a so-so start and finished seventh.Mark Kariya

“Last year I trained for Dakar [almost exclusively],” Brabec said. “Last year I rode a little bit of motocross, hardly any enduro—I just took the year off to focus on rally. I wanted to come back [to the H&H Nationals] because last year was a lot of sitting around, a lot of thinking and kind of depression—you’re not doing anything [in between rallies]. I told Johnny I wanted to race Hare & Hounds this year and follow as much of the series as I can. I’m happy with second place [today]. I had a rough day; I was kind of riding all over the place. I felt squirrelly, but I’m happy to be on the podium.”

Wasson led much of the fast 40-mile first loop, but was satisfied with third-place points. He said, “I had her wide pretty much the whole first loop and led pretty much until 5 or 10 miles from the end, then Kendall [Norman] got by me—he was on fire, man! In the dust, I don’t know how he passed me [like he did] on a rocky road. I know he couldn’t see because as soon as he went by me, I couldn’t see!”

Pro 250s
A new crop topped the Pro 250s, with Daemon Woolslayer (center) winning for the first time, Zane Roberts (left) second, and Preston Campbell (right) third.Mark Kariya

Defending champ Norman did lead at the end of the first loop and into the early miles of the more technical 40-mile second loop. Unfortunately for the Chocolate Mountain Ranch Honda-mounted privateer (riding last year’s championship-winning CRF450X, in fact), he hit something that tore the chain guide off, resulting in a derailed chain that wedged itself around the countershaft sprocket.

Since he wasn’t carrying tools, that could’ve spelled the end of his race, but fortunately for him, a spectator with tools happened to be close by and loaned him the necessary items. Despite the time lost, Norman was able to finish the race respectably in eighth.

Brandy Richards
Defending Women’s Pro champ Brandy Richards took up where she left off last year by running away for the win and finishing an amazing 29th overall.Mark Kariya
Lane Forbes
A new group of Big Wheel racers made its way to the front with Lane Forbes the fastest of the bunch for his first win in the class.Mark Kariya
Dustyn Davis
Dustyn Davis established his lead immediately in the combined Micro Mini (65cc)/Girls race and kept class runner-up Brennen Watson at bay for the win. On the podium, he declared he’ll be faster than his dad, Ty, who was pretty fast back in the day.Mark Kariya
Brooke Olivas
After breaking her leg and sitting out most of last year, only to need surgery to correct complications in it, Brooke Olivas was thrilled to be back on her bike. Winning the Girls class and finishing fourth overall in the combined Micro Mini (65cc)/Girls race was icing on the cake.Mark Kariya
Maddix Park
From the moment the banner dropped, Maddix Park roosted away from the rest of the Pee Wees and won by more than three minutes.Mark Kariya

2019 Johnson Valley Hare & Hound National Overall Results

Position Rider Brand
1 Jacob Argubright Kawasaki
2 Ricky Brabec Honda
3 Joe Wasson Beta
4 Tyler Lynn Yamaha
5 Dalton Shirey Husqvarna
6 Nick Burson Yamaha
7 Axel Pearson Yamaha
8 Kendall Norman Honda
9 Chance Fullerton Beta
10 Daemon Woolslayer Yamaha

2019 Championship Point Standings

Position Rider Brand Points
1 Jacob Argubright Kawasaki 30
2 Ricky Brabec Honda 25
3 Joe Wasson Beta 21
4 Tyler Lynn Yamaha 18
5 Dalton Shirey Husqvarna 16
6 Nick Burson Yamaha 15
7 Axel Pearson Yamaha 14
8 Kendall Norman Honda 13
9 Chance Fullerton Beta 12
10 Daemon Woolslayer Yamaha 11