Eight years between championships isn’t very common, but privateer Honda rider Kendall Norman made it a reality after finishing a safe fifth overall at the 51st Annual End of the Trail National Hare & Hound hosted by the 100s Motorcycle Club near Ridgecrest, California, the seventh and final round of the Kenda/SRT AMA National Hare & Hound (H&H) Championship Series, presented by FMF. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Off-Road Team’s Dalton Shirey took the win—his first National triumph on big bikes after a stellar youth H&H career—followed by Beta’s Joe Wasson and Purvines Racing Yamaha’s Nick Burson, the only competitor at the finale with a mathematical chance of stealing the title from Norman.

Due to several of the top runners missing a section of course and gaining an advantage—whether intentional or not—the physical finish order wasn’t the final official finish order. After a post-race powwow between the affected riders and officials, everyone came to an agreement that the final order would have to reflect as best as possible any time gained or lost in the section. So, while Chidester Transport Racing Yamaha’s Jacob Argubright was physically first to the finish, the official results will read: Shirey, Wasson, Burson, Argubright, and Norman.

Kendall Norman
Since he carried a comfortable 24-point lead over nearest competitor Nick Burson going into the finale, Kendall Norman didn’t get too excited after a good-but-not-great start left him in dust for the first 40-mile loop. Fifth at the finish was more than enough to claim his second National H&H crown, eight years after winning his first one.Mark Kariya

Going into the race, Norman claimed to have the same strategy as always, but a comfortable point lead allowed him the luxury of not having to take undue chances.

“Obviously, my plan is always the same: Just to do the best I can and try to get the holeshot to be out of the dust and be in a safer position to try to ride my own race,” he explained later. “But I’m not going to lie—I was definitely nervous! There’s a lot more riding on this race than normal; if you’re just starting the season, you can take a little more risk. I kind of figured it wasn’t really my day to get a win in or anything like that, so I just tried to do my best to not make a mistake.”

Dalton Shirey
A good start put Dalton Shirey into the thick of the battle for the lead. After plenty of back-and-forth, he ended up with the win—his first aboard big bikes after quite a bit of success on smaller machinery earlier in his career.Mark Kariya

And looking beyond the championship, there was that idea that he’d be going to Chile next week to represent the US at the International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) for the first time and he certainly didn’t want to go into that injured.

“[Prepping for Six Days has been] like managing your own business—setting everything up and getting everything ready to go,” Norman declared. “I’ve worked really hard and invested a lot, and people have invested in me too, and helped support the cause, so I definitely didn’t want to go down and risk that because I’m super excited to go over there and find my groove after the first couple days and try to do good.”

Nick Burson
The Spangler Hills OHV Area is in Nick Burson’s backyard, but being 24 points down put him in the unenviable position of having to win (or get second if Norman happened to finish outside the points) in order to steal the championship. It wasn’t meant to be though. After getting a good start and running in the lead pack on the first loop, he caught his foot on something early on the second 40-mile loop, resulting in an extremely painful ankle. He considered dropping out but gutted it out to finish a somewhat sedate third in the race and second in the championship.Mark Kariya

As for his second H&H title, Norman treasures it on the same level as his first in 2010. “They’re both very meaningful,” he noted. “The first one took so long to try to achieve—I think I spent five years trying for it—and this one means a lot because of my break from racing and coming back and having to kind of start from scratch and the amount of work and effort it took on my end. I felt like certain races I couldn’t be the best I could be just because of how hard I had to work on the other end. I don’t know—[this championship is] very meaningful, for sure.”

Joe Wasson
After spending all last year recovering from his horrific injury at round 2, Joe Wasson’s been getting back up to the speed that saw him win the FMF Pro 250 championship in 2016. He got a great start, battling for the lead all day and ultimately finished second for his first big-bike podium.Mark Kariya

Shirey will also have fond memories of the End of the Trail National, his first big-bike victory not an easy one by any means.

“I felt I rode pretty good,” he said. “The first loop I rode a little tight; I had to adapt and get used to [hare & hounds] again then the second loop. I just hammered down.”

Regarding riders missing a section, Shirey voiced the sentiment of several of those affected, saying, “I got passed by two guys that I never saw.”

Jacob Argubright
A decent start gave Jacob Argubright the opportunity and he reacted by moving into the lead group, ultimately reaching the finish line before anyone else. After the race, however, several riders pointed out that others missed part of the course and gained an unfair advantage. After much discussion between officials and those involved, no protests were lodged and the group agreed to alter physical finishing positions to reflect time gained or lost there. Thus, Argubright forfeited a spot on the podium and took fourth.Mark Kariya

Likewise, Wasson was ecstatic: “It was an awesome feeling [to be fighting for the lead so long]; my equipment’s working great—my bike, my body, my wrist feels awesome, so I’m just trying to come back.”

As for Burson, his strategy was simple: “I was going to try to win—that was my goal—I wanted to win. It’s my backyard.”

But after dicing for the lead over the first fast 40-mile loop, his chance at the championship evaporated heading out onto the more technical second 40-mile loop.

Chance Fullerton
Having wrapped up the FMF Pro 250 championship at round 6, Chance Fullerton raced a 430 RR for the first time in the Pro class and did well, finishing eighth overall as he gets a head start on running the class full time next year.Mark Kariya

“Heading out onto loop two, I hit something and it folded my ankle,” he explained. “Instant pain all the way up to my knee, like my whole leg! I contemplated turning around and just riding back. I couldn’t even reach the rear brake. I just sat down and just rode the rest of the race like that, basically with one [good] leg.”

Looking back at the season, Burson summarized it as, “consistent. Just had some bad luck. I didn’t get any wins this year; a couple wins and I would’ve had the championship. I rode really good; I got good starts all year.

“We’ll try again next year.”

Morgan Crawford
Morgan Crawford ended the season on a high note, taking the FMF Pro 250 class win and claiming seventh overall.Mark Kariya
Brandy Richards
Brandy Richards had a busy weekend. On Saturday, she wrapped up her WORCS championship in Nevada, following that by dominating the H&H with her fifth straight win to overtake Britney Gallegos (who sat out due to injury) in points for the Women’s Pro championship. Now she sets her sights on the ISDE.Mark Kariya
sign up
The sign-up tent was a scary place to be.Mark Kariya
Chidester Transport
One of the Pee Wee racers waits for the 100s banner to drop atop the Chidester Transport Racing big rig.Mark Kariya
Grady Ballow
Utah’s Grady Ballow kicked off the weekend by riding to the Pee Wee victory and clinching the class championship for the year over season-long rival Waylon Honnold from California.Mark Kariya
Jack Williford
Jack Williford took his fourth consecutive Junior Mini 85cc 7-11 win to wrap up the class championship, his nearest rival Racer Honnold forced to spectate while recovering from a broken arm.Mark Kariya
Karson Boyce
In the Mini 85cc 12-15 class, quiet Karson Boyce capped off the season with his fourth series victory, wrapping up the class championship. AMA Off-road Racing Manager Erek Kudla was on hand to present class number-one plates to all who earned them.Mark Kariya
Ryan Smith
Being the weekend before Halloween, having a pit row trick-or-treat session was a must. Besides a number of costumes that people came up with, Ryan Smith perhaps showed the most commitment, turning his little bike trailer into a mini haunted house.Mark Kariya
Some of the entries in the pumpkin-carving contest.Mark Kariya
Some of the kids came up with fairly creative costumes.Mark Kariya
Cody Kurtz
Saturday evening saw the inaugural Cody Kurtz Selfless Racer Award presented. Although a surprise to recipient Kyle Kurtz (pictured here with daughter Caitlyn and wife Jessica), he perfectly epitomizes the award which will be given annually to someone who puts others before themselves.Mark Kariya