The EVS Sports/Twisted Diesel team came in to the first ever Pastranaland Pit Bike World Championships prepared and confident with Caleb Carter, aka Joe Dirt, having won the last Pastrana pit bike event by over half a lap on the rest of the field and his event teammate, Mark Brown, solidifying himself as a standout pit bike racer as well.
As riders, teams and support staff all began to trickle in to Pastranaland, everyone was excited for what the weekend had in store overall and could not wait for the weekend to get started. A brief announcement came from Travis stating that essentially this first day was sort of a setup type day for everyone to arrive on site, get checked in, and prep the bikes, etc. Like it was out of a movie, once Travis finished his announcement, a large truck/trailer rig rolled down the hill to Pastranaland and out came 22 brand new KLX110 pit bikes. Teams and support staff immediately began to work customizing the bikes to suit each rider but being careful to adhere to the ‘stock class’ rules of the weekend, meaning really the only things that could be changed on the bikes were handlebars and grips. No engine or suspension modifications were allowed on any of the bikes to try and further help determine the ‘fastest rider.’ As teams finished up any changes to their bikes, the first day of the event began to wind down as everyone was wanting to rest up for the riding and racing the following days.
Day 2 of the event began with track walk and to say that the track was impressive is an understatement. The features of the track that Hubert, Travis’s long-time mechanic, had put together was fast, flowy, and FUN! Every rider and mechanic agreed unanimously that it was the most fun pit bike track they had ever ridden. The track included several large jumps and a unique toilet bowl section where riders jumped over the exit of a large toilet bowl like berm. Carrying momentum would be key throughout the track to complete all the jumps each lap; carrying momentum was going to be critical enough that the popular block pass move would be risky as both riders involved would lose serious time to the rest of the field.
Both Joe Dirt and Mark immediately got comfortable with the track with Joe Dirt opting for the ‘Send it’ mentality on his first lap around, hitting all the jumps without hesitation. Once the short practice ended, qualifying began which consisted of each rider getting one fast timed lap, with the top two fastest riders from qualifying transferring straight to the Main Event the next day. AJ Catanzaro, riding for Team Tractor Supply Company, threw down an extremely fast lap early on that everyone else was struggling to match, much less beat. Both Mark and Joe Dirt were farther down the order of riders to attempt their qualifying lap and as a result, were able to watch parts of the track and learn where they could change their line choice or ride a section differently. Doing so paid off in a big way as Joe Dirt qualified 3rd fastest overall just missing out on transferring straight to the Main Event while Mark Brown qualified 8th fastest overall.
The original game plan for the first day of real riding/racing was supposed to conclude after qualifying wrapped up, but with the weather in Maryland beginning to not look good for the final day of competition, it was decided that heat racing would take place immediately following qualifying. Both Mark Brown and Joe Dirt lined up in Heat 1 ready to race. Both Team EVS riders/Twisted Diesel riders avoided some first turn carnage involving Dusty Wygle and a few others and got off to great starts. Joe Dirt took the early lead and while he was quick in qualifying, he looked so much more relaxed and confident as a racer during his heat and quickly pulled away from the rest of the field. Joe Dirt would go on to take the win in Heat 1 while Mark came out on top of the battle for the last transfer position into the main event holding off a hard charging Ryan Sipes in the last turn before the finish line.
Heat Two got underway and was somewhat uneventful compared to the prior heat as Justin Rodbell, Justin Sipes and Greg Duffy all transferred into the Main Event. After the heat racing concluded, a short break took place while riders began to prep for the LCQ, which was sure to be full of both chaos and carnage as there were a few standout riders that had yet to make it to the main event, most notably Ryan Sipes for Team Red Bull. Sipes nailed the start in the LCQ and immediately began to check out on the rest of the field avoiding the chaos behind him taking the win and transferring to the main handedly. With bad weather starting to roll in the racing wrapped up for the day as all the teams, riders and support staff made the trek back to the barn at the start of the compound, packed up and headed out for the day. The weather continued to get worse as the teams and riders were packing up and it began to rain heavily for close to an hour…raising some concern as to what the track would look like for the final day of racing.
The third and final day of racing began with everyone arriving on site and immediately asking about how the track was looking after the heavy rains from the night before. All teams, riders and support staff were pleasantly surprised to see that the track was in decent shape overall. Hubert had burned the midnight oil pumping out water from low spots and doing what he could to make the track as rideable as possible. A quick practice session took place to allow riders to warm up for the day of racing and while the track was a little greasy on top, all the riders agreed that by mid-day the track would be perfect.
The Main Event would be broken up into a two-moto format with best overall scores combined to determine the winner overall. Moto 1 began with LCQ winner Ryan Sipes crushing the start again and quickly opening a gap on the rest of the field. The racing was tight from 2nd through 10th place as riders were exchanging positions back and forth with one another and after the 10-lap moto Joe Dirt and Mark Brown finished 4th place and 6th place with the top three finishers being Ryan Sipes, Stankdog for Team Pit Viper and Just Rodbell with Team Tractor Supply. While 4th and 6th are solid results, neither Joe Dirt nor Mark were satisfied; both wanting more for the 2nd moto. The two Team EVS/Twisted Diesel riders quickly chatted together exchanging advice on line choice and sections of the track where one was faster than the other in an effort to step up their game for the 2nd moto. After the half hour between motos, the riders began to line up behind the gate for Moto 2.
Moto 2 got off to an incredible start as Joe Dirt ripped a holeshot and began to pull a slight lead over the rest of the field within the first couple turns. Things were looking good for Joe Dirt to repeat the epic beating he put towards the rest of the crew at a pit bike event the year before, but then disaster struck as an aggressive pass was made on him in the back woods section, not only slowing him up but also the rider who attempted the pass. Joe Dirt emerged from the woods hovering just around the top 5 and quickly went to work to move through the field, but the early moto struggles would continue. Joe Dirt was clearly one of the faster guys on the track but couldn’t hold that speed consistently as he would make a mistake while trying to make up the ground he lost. This culminated with a last lap crash of him losing the front end of his KLX 110. While Joe Dirt was disappointed overall, he was still able to finish Moto 2 in 7th place.
Mark Brown also got off to a great start in Moto 2 and was in a battle almost the entire moto. Stankdog got off to an incredible start and checked out from the rest of the field, but positions 2nd through 7th were neck and neck the entire moto which made for some great racing throughout Moto 2 as there wasn’t really a differentiator between 2nd through 7th. Mark stayed consistent through Moto 2 and finished in a solid 6th place with the top 3 finishers of Moto 2 consisting of Stankdog, Justin Rodbell and Ryan Sipes. Both Joe Dirt and Mark Brown were exhausted after both motos, but also knew that they put in a fantastic effort between them.
As the results trickled in from the stat team, the podium was announced with the winner being Stankdog for Team Pit Viper and 2nd and 3rd place going to Justin Rodbell and Ryan Sipes. There was an additional award for Top Team which Team EVS/Twisted Diesel just missed out on by 1 point as Justin Rodbell and AJ Catanzaro with Team Tractor Supply Company took the win. All of the riders, teams, support staff and even camera crew were exhausted, but everyone knew that there was the chance of one more race. A rumor had been circulating the pits all weekend that if time and weather permitted, there would be a Team race consisting of each team using one bike and having their two riders hand the bike off to one another after each lap. Travis made a brief announcement that in a half hour the Team race would take place, announcing where the hand off point would be along with one major rule for the team race…the Team race would be ‘full contact’, meaning that riders who were waiting for their bike to come in to the exchange area could block and even take out a rider who was handing off if they were ahead them position wise. As Travis announced this, everyone began to smile and immediately brainstorm about what the best way would be to slow up the competition, or even stop them from finishing the race completely.
Joe Dirt started the Team race for EVS/Twisted Diesel and was in 1st place by the time he got to the first exchange. The first exchange was complete chaos as all of the riders waiting for bikes to come in immediately swarmed the KLX110 that Joe Dirt was trying to get on…thankfully Joe Dirt didn’t lose too much time in the exchange, but behind him was even more chaos. Riders began going for kill switches on each other’s bikes, stalling their machines and costing them more time on the rest of the field. This trend would continue throughout the race and escalated even further from hitting the kill switch. Some riders even began yanking the spark plug cap off the bikes. Justin Sipes and the TB Parts team fell victim to this and lost a serious amount of time. Team EVS/Twisted Diesel was able to avoid the major carnage and chaos during each subsequent exchange as they pulled farther and farther into the lead, separating themselves from the pack.
The final exchange was arguably the highlight of the weekend as Joe Dirt was coming in to hand off to Mark Brown. The pool of waiting riders did their best to try and slow down Joe Dirt while he came in and ended up tackling Mark Brown as he tried to hop onto the bike. Mark Brown remounted and got away clean to complete the final lap and Joe Dirt began to dust himself off while walking back to the pits. At this point the rest of the teams were all in the middle of their exchange and Jim York from Team Pit Viper was eager to get out onto track and make up ground on the competition. As a result, he did not pay attention to where he was going and completely ran over Joe Dirt! Thankfully, Joe Dirt was ok and hopped right up. Team EVS/Twisted Diesel absolutely crushed the Team race, but the highlight of the race and the weekend became Joe Dirt getting run over by Team Pit Viper.
As a whole, the first ever Pastranaland Pit Bike World Championships was a resounding success on all fronts. All the riders and their support staff were stoked to have been a part of such a great event, regardless of how they performed. Team sponsors were all thrilled with how the event turned out…so much so that they even began recruiting riders to ride for their team should there be another event like this! As of now the event was a one off, but the goal from both Travis and the Nitro Circus crew was that the event goes over well enough with viewership that this can become a full-blown pit bike series!
We have a rich history in motocross protection and have done countless events in the past, but with this event in particular, we were honored to have been able to attend and act not only as a direct sponsor of our team, but also to have acted as the protection sponsor of the event, providing protective equipment to anyone who needed it. #TeamEVS #WeAreProtection
Written by Jackson Halsmer