"That's the craziest race I've ever done!" was about the only thing the riders could say after coming off the Endurocross track in Las Vegas. The first event of its kind in the U.S. took place in the Orleans Arena over Thanksgiving weekend, the big win going to Team ECC and new Honda rider Ryan Hughes.The off-road style arena track was like nothing most of the (American) riders had ever seen before. Piles of telephone poles, tractor tires, and sharp boulders mixed in with water crossings, slick river rocks and log crossings made for one of the most incredible events we've ever seen. "You don't get much better racing than that," said an exhausted Ty Davis, "When you see top guys falling down, you know it has to be hard!"The rider turn out was huge, perhaps due in part to the largest purse in off-road racing: $10,000.00 to the winner. Top riders from around the world and from all different styles of racing came to Vegas for the event. European riders such as David Knight, World Enduro Champion Mika Ahola and ISDE Enduro 1 Champion Bartosz Oblucki came out, as well as American racing legends such 8-time Trials Champion Geoff Aaron, Ryan Hughes, Ty Davis and Bobby Bonds.After walking the track, each rider got one practice lap—solo. Then it was on to qualifying where each rider got to complete one timed lap which would determine gate selection. The boulder pile was definitely the most treacherous obstacle on the track, claiming multiple victims on nearly every lap. "It was one of those you could either lose or gain time on," said England's Paul Edmondson, "Every time you came 'round to it, you weren't looking forward to it, but you knew you had to go across them."But most spectacular wreck of the day came compliments of our own Jimmy Lewis in the water crossing. During his timed lap, Jimmy was traversing the log separating the pools, slipped and plunged head first into the pond, dunking his entire head underwater. "There was nothing to break the fall except my head," Jimmy said.Event promoter Tim Clark was looking on—along with almost the entire off-road industry—in bewilderment. "I could already see the headline," said Clark, "Dirt Rider Editor Drowns at First Endurocross!" Jimmy was a good sport about the incident, racing that night with one of the pool's rubber ducks atop his soggy helmet (we didn't have time to find him a mask and snorkel).Ryan Hughes holeshot the main event, then just about ran away with the lead. David Knight put in a great race as well, finishing a strong second. David Pearson held on to third place for the first half of the race before giving it up to Mika Ahola. "I kinda got stuck on a log and Ahola passed me and that dropped me to fourth," Pearson said, "After that I tried to pass him but he was riding really good. I can't complain though; I mean, Ahola's the World Enduro Champion!"
The European riders were a bit more seasoned in the event; most of them having raced the Endurocross events in Barcelona over the last four years. But even they admitted it was a tough track. "They had the advantage over us," said Ryno, "But my motocross skills came in handy in the corners and the starts." On the podium, Hughes attributed his success in the event to learning from the Euros. "I watched the European guys, especially how they go over the rocks; they get back a litle bit further. They helped me out in that race a lot. David Knight was going really well."The intensity of the race, and novelty of a new venue has nearly everyone vowing to come back next year, better trained and prepared for Endurocross. "You really couldn't prepare for this," said Ryan Hughes, "unless you build one in your back yard... which might be a good idea for me.""I'm gonna do some cardio training for the first time in ten years after all that," said Canada's Guy Perrett after the LCQ, "Either that or switch to filtered cigarettes. I need to get some lung power back and I'll be in the main for sure."Look for more coverage and pictures from Endurocross in the March issue of Dirt Rider Magazine.Main Event Results