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“You Can Call Me Ray, and…”

AMA/NATC National Trials Series

Rounds 7 & 8

July 24th & 25th, 2010

Howard, Colorado

By Ron Pocher

Photos By Sid Mauldin


Ray Peters has been going at it pretty steady for quite a while now. Peters came into the Colorado rounds of this year’s NATC Series with his seventh consecutive Expert class championship already in hand. During that span, which began in 2004, Peters has been defeated at a national round on just four occasions. If Ray can figure out how to sweep next year’s series, which isn’t all that unlikely, he’ll be averaging one-half loss per season. Pretty fair statistic. 2006 was really an off year for Peters, as he lost twice. Travis Fox pulled the first upset while Will Ibsen held the honors just one round later. Keith Wineland was the first rider to hand Ray an Expert class defeat in ’04 while Bailey Tucker was the last, when he beat Peters at the final round of ’07 in New Mexico. At all four of these momentary stumbles, Ray still came away with second place points.

Peters began his national trials career by winning the High School class championship in 1990. The following year saw him jumping straight to the Pro class, where he comfortably resided until 2003. Ray was able to finish in the top ten during all of his thirteen seasons in the premier class, with his worst position being a rookie-year ninth. Peters ended up in the top five for ten consecutive years, after failing to reach that mark in his two initial attempts. His last year in the nation’s top class saw him just missing his eleventh straight when he finished sixth. Peters reached his high mark in 1997 when he finished just arrears of Geoff Aaron in second. During his impressive stay, which fell in the Aaron/Ryan Young era, Ray ended up third overall on six occasions and fourth twice. Peters also hoisted Colorado’s prestigious Ute Cup three consecutive years in ’95, ’96 and ‘97.

Saturday’s Round 7 featured plenty of big “ups” for the Expert class faithful. Arizona’s Bryan Roper was probably thinking that if he were going to beat Mr. Peters anytime soon, the larger obstacles would most likely be leaning more toward his favor. Peters has obviously seen his share of good-sized rocks and kept the young Roper at a safe distance throughout the first two loops. Roper proved his worth on the final circuit when he matched Ray’s 10-card, but a clean last lap was the recipe needed for victory, as Bryan came up nine points shy with his 44. California’s Eric Storz captured third with his 52 while Max Nelson of Oregon finished just out of the hardware with 59.

Round 8 found Peters sporting a much larger margin when he topped Roper by plenty, 5 to 27. Another Golden State “golden boy”, Max Malsbury, jumped all the way from ninth on day one to a day two podium spot with his 30-card. Nelson, whose stars just weren’t lined up quite right on this lovely weekend, narrowly missed yet another trophy with his second fourth at 32.

“Both days were fun but I liked today’s (Sunday) round a little better because it was more technical. Yesterday was more about the bigger obstacles and I’m all right with that but you just know the kids on the 125’s with their little hamster cage motors probably weren’t liking it much,” said Peters. “They not only had to try and get up the same stuff we were, but they’re doing it with almost a third of the power”.

Logan Boloque must have been feeding his hamster just the right stuff as he came away with the gold both days in the Expert 125 class. Boloque squeaked by Nathan Hassler on Saturday, 72 to 79, while Sunday found him with a more comfortable cushion over Sam Fastle, 54 to 101. Both second place finishers hail from New Mexico. Daniel Blanc-Gonnet carted off the third place trophy for each round with his day one 102 and day two 106.

The Expert-Sportsman class also boasted a double winner as Brad Villand had more than enough for his talented cohorts. Eric Tidmore was certainly on fine form as he finished runner-up to Mr. Villand in each round. Tidmore was nine back on Saturday and just eight adrift after the day two contest. Bernie Fredrick, who knows his way around an enduro circuit as well, took the day one bronze while David Aldo, Jr. toted off the remaining trophy on Sunday.

Josh Nutsch won Saturday’s High School division then promptly fell to fifth come Sunday. Nate Hirt would have to be called the weekend’s most consistent teen as he backed up his day one third place with a day two victory. Alex Nielsen was also rather steady as he finished runner-up Saturday and snatched his second trophy with a Sunday third. Colorado’s Stephen Marcus made the host club proud when he rolled home in second on day two.

Brian Stull and William Head slugged it out all weekend in the Junior ranks as each youngster left the site holding a first place award in one hand and a second place in the other. Matthew Schubert had his hands full as well as he headed back to the Lone Star State with a couple of thirds.

Wyoming’s Brian Martinson came out swinging on Saturday and just nicked Chris Zuroske for the Sportsman class win, 13 to 15. RMTA legend Billy Burgener joined in on the scuffle by taking a “just off the pace” third with his 18-card. Martinson should have been a bit more careful with Zuroske’s demeanor, as Chris fought back for the day two win. Burgener hopped up a notch to second while New Mexico youngster Shiloh Old elbowed his way into a Sunday trophy with third. Martinson fell to fourth in the day two contest.

Eight-time Women’s national champion Christy Williams looks to be in good shape to win yet another title. Williams edged her sister, Kerry Williams-Aaron, in both rounds and now has four wins in four tries in the 2010 series. Six wins count toward your year-end total in the support classes. Young Rachel Hassler is well on her way to a promising trials career and finished Saturdays’ event just six points down to Williams-Aaron for third. Sarah Duke, who trailed Hassler by a dab after the day one contest, rebounded on day two to take third by eighteen. Caroline Allen, who won all four of the mid-season rounds that were held in the northeastern states, didn’t fair as well out west and could only manage fifth on each day.

Two New Mexico gents, Rob Hertrich and Devin Cannady, were the only roustabouts who bothered to enter the Senior 35 class. Cannady could never quite catch up to Rob’s fastball and went down swinging in both rounds. Hertrich won 10 to 32 on Saturday and 11 to 44 on Sunday.

Michael Leonard handily won the Senior 40 division on both days in yet another class that was a little short on participants. Kendal Karn probably had to listen to Leonard’s babbling about his trials prowess all the way back to New York, as he could manage no better than second in either round. Neil Pieper joined in on the fray come Sunday, his first national level trials event, and received a lovely memento for third.

Scott Head showed that he hasn’t forgotten much when it comes to the “feet up” game by cleaning all three loops on his way to the day one victory in the Senior 45 class. Head really struggled on Sunday though, as he had to put a foot down a whole four times. Good gosh man, that’s more than one dab per circuit. David Rohrschneider really stunk up the joint as well as he needed that dab per circuit, I was mentioning earlier, on Saturday and but a few more on day two. David’s 3 and 12-point cards helped him claim second in each round. Karl Davis was also “going to town” as he posted just 10 on day one and 16 more come Sunday, to head back to Florida with two podium finishes.

The distinguished gentlemen that you find in the Senior 50 ranks, just seem to be a bit more well-mannered. Oh please. Dave Diehl and James Zuroske cordially traded wins at this Rocky Mountain national. Both chaps drove back home with both a first and second place trophy in their weakening grasp. Diehl posted the better Saturday card, 17 to 26, while Zuroske held the edge come Sunday, 20 to 22. Arizona’s Michael Martin absconded with two third place awards but came oh so close to upgrading that prize with his day one ride. Zuroske and Martin both finished with 26 points and 22 cleans, but James got the nod by notching just one more “one” in this well-matched fracas.

Gary Hoover, yet another muli-time champ who found his way into this story, easily won both rounds in the Senior 55 division. Hoover clenched his sixth (age group) national title with his victory on Sunday. That makes three crowns each in the Senior 50 and Senior 55 ranks. George Brinkwart finished runner-up on day one but slid to fourth on day two. Kunio Watanabe steered his way to third on Saturday and then scooted up a spot to second on Sunday. Bruce Bolander made off with the final trophy, handed out to these scoundrels, with his day two third.

Here’s a real newsflash for you – Dale Malasek and Bill de Garis traded wins in the Senior 65 class. Malasek was in top form on Saturday as he topped de Garis by twelve, 17 to 29. “Wild Bill” must have gotten a burr in his saddle as he came roaring back on Sunday to take the top spot, 21 to 28. It looks like this battle will go down to the last loop in Donner.

In the Senior 70 class, two euphoric lads were showing the appreciative crowd the proper way to go about the task at hand. Bill Thompson and Jerry Young were both riding beautifully all weekend, but when play had ended Mr. Thompson was standing on the higher step. Thompson was able to just nip Young in both rounds.

Steve Higgs proved to be the most consistent rider in the newly formed Clubman class as he was able to back up his day one second place with a victory on Sunday. Neil King reached the top rung on Saturday when his 5-card came in one dab better than Higgs’ 6-point total. David Old also finished day one with 6 marks lost but had to settle for third since Higgs managed three cleans more. Alex Tucker came from “just down the road a spell” to nab the runner-up spot on Sunday, while King picked up a third place trophy to help keep his top prize from Saturday company.

Ray Peters has faced plenty of worthy young trials riders through the years, but every last challenger has either moved on or up to the Pro level without taking the Expert class crown along with them. Talk around the campfire is that Bryan Roper may be the one to do just that, come next year. Roper certainly seems to have the necessary skills and desire, but even money says he’ll follow the current trend and be riding with Cody and the boys when the 2011 series gets under way. Whoever it is with designs on dethroning Mr. Peters can count on one little element though – they better keep practicing; because judging by his NFL safety-like build, he certainly will.