Diamond Don's, Unabridged
Diamond Don’s 16th Annual Riverport National
AHRMA/Preston Petty Products National Vintage MX Series
AHRMA/Race Tech National Post Vintage MX Series
By Albert Newmann
Photos by Bobby Hedge and Judy Newmann
JEFFERSON, TX - April 14-15, 2018
Entering the 16th Riverport National many of us who have made the annual pilgrimage to Jefferson, Texas can say there is never a dull moment and 2018 did not let us down. Nearing midnight Friday before Saturday’s vintage race a small cold front was approaching the area that generated torrential rain and 80 plus mph straight line winds along with a small tornado through the park. With limbs and pop-up tents whirling about it was amazing that only two RV’s suffered severe damage and no injuries. The aftermath Saturday morning had historic Cypress and Sweet Gum tree’s downed across several areas of the track. Chainsaws and bulldozers were in full action and by 11am we had a slightly altered track ready for racing. The track crew put in an amazing effort to execute the clean up and track preparation. Outside of the storm damage though this facility is a chorus of birds and bullfrogs but for this weekend it was a slightly different choir of roaring motorcycles echoing through the bayou forest. We were ready for racing!
Round five of the Preston Petty Products National Vintage Motocross Series was underway with a high noon start and the first moto of the day was an exciting one with a mixed gate of Classic 125 Experts and 40 Plus Intermediates and Experts. Extremely quick 40 Plus Expert Sean Valentine pulled the first holeshot of the day with Classic 125 Experts Mike Mitrione and Lynn Williams in tow. By lap two it was Seargent to the front of the pack holding off the challenges for the remainder of the moto. Seargent went on to win moto two with Mitrione finishing second amongst these small bores.
In the second gate drop of the day it was 20 riders lined up in the 60 Plus Intermediates. Mike Brown of Daytona Beach, Florida put himself into the lead for the first two laps of race one but it was Bill Walker and Ricky Rice working their way around on the final lap to pass brown and Rice with the first moto win. All three battled in the second moto but Rice was too fast on this day and with the 1-1 he gained the overall for the win. Naturally, our 60 Plus Expert class followed up the next race to watch Rhett Smith get early leads in both moto’s to take the overall with a 1-1 finish order outrunning talent from all across the country. The 70 Plus Experts ran the second gate drop of this race with legend Barry Higgins and his CZ topping the 2017 national champion Skip Kennedy. Higgins can still ride the wheels off any motorcycle and was an inspiration to watch.
In race four of the day our 50 Plus Intermediates and Experts lined up and it was Texan Keith Klump to a quick lead on lap one to battle with Phil Reed. Reed worked his way around Klump however Klump made the pass back on lap two to hold Reed and Greg Boone off. The second moto saw Reed pull the holeshot and lead until the last lap when his bike had a mechanical and it was Mike Wheeler to the front for the second moto win. Klump’s 1-2 finish earned him the win however the exciting racing ensued just behind the Expert level riders between Intermediate riders Gary Davis and Bobby Hedge both of Texas in moto two. Both riders were nearly side by side on all sections of the track but it was Davis edging out Hedge both moto’s for the overall win.
Race nine featured some fantastic racing from the Premier 500 Expert class. Cliff Mee of Oakland, Oregon put his BSA to the front of moto one over Bob McNamara and his Norton as well as Beno Rodi riding the Indian. Mee was unable to make gate two and it was McNamara edging out Rodi for the overall with his 2-1 finish. Also, making this gate it was a converted to motocross racer and AHRMA Trustee Luke Conner riding a Beno Rodi spare bike. Conner was quite excited to hit the dirt and participate and by the looks of it he may be receiving a yellow stripe in the mail soon! The ESS 250 Experts also lined the gate in race nine with Bubba Dennis holding off Kevin Hodge and Bruce Rounsaville with 1-1 finishes for the win.
All the local North Texas racers were anticipating the debut of Arlington, Texas racer Brandon Glenn on a loaned 1974 Husqvarna CR400 for the weekend. With a gate of eleven extremely fast Sportsman 500 Experts Glenn did not disappoint. Glenn immediately worked his way to the front of the pack both moto’s to open a large gap over the talent laden group. Watching the speed and style of Glenn was the buzz of the pits and bench racing conversations into the evening. Intermediate rider James Golliher of Derby, Ohio worked his way up into the Expert conversation only to have bike issues to keep him out of moto two. Newcomer Mike Ryan of Austin, Texas took the overall in the Intermediates with his 5-1 finish on the day.
With much calmer weather prevailing Saturday and moisture maintaining well on the track round five of the Race Tech National Post Vintage Motocross series was set up for perfect conditions. With 375 entries for Post-Vintage motocross we were lined up for an eighteen race schedule and capacity filled gates.
To kick things off Sunday it was the Post Vintage Open Age Expert and Intermediate gates. Typically, this is the class that features many of the young guns and the fastest racing of the day. With professional Supercross racer and Jefferson, Texas native Scotty Wennerstrom along with Joel White and Ricky Parker on the line we knew it would be a show. What nobody expected was a racer from Weatherford, Texas disrupting all by the name of Bud Moore. From the gate drop of moto one Moore worked his Yamaha to the front of the pack just in front of Parker and Winnerstrom. Moore held off the intense competition both moto’s to take the overall. Another North Texas newcomer to AHRMA racing made an immediate impact and the talk was buzzing all day about his ride. The Intermediate gate had Jeremy Verne with an impressive ride to take the overall with his 1-1 finishes.
Race two was our largest class on the day with the Post Vintage 50 Plus Intermediates. With 27 working gates we had 27 entries to fill each one. Newcomer Mitchell Hulsey of Mabank, TX put his way to the front of the large gate on lap one and never looked back. In moto two it was Honda mounted Gary Emerson repeating exactly what Hulsey did in moto one. Once into the lead on lap one Emerson maintained the lead and never looked back. It was Emerson’s 2-1 over the 1-2 finish of Hulsey for the overall. All the way from Okinawa, Japan Hirotaka Matsuda put in two solid rides and his 4-4 finish on the day put himself into fourth just missing out to third place finisher Mark White.
Race five also featured a plethora of fast riders dispersed across various Expert classes. In Historic 500 Expert Trampas Parker worked his Husqvarna into first place quickly just in front of Hoot Parker, Trey Jorski, and Mike Wheeler in the Post Vintage 50 Plus Expert class. Hoot Parker pulled off the first moto win over Jorski however it was Jorski with the second moto win to take their class. Trampas Parker’s 1-1 in the Historic 500 class earned him the win over Alan Drane and it was Trampas’s brother Heath Parker and his Yamaha going 1-1 over a very fast Bart Watts and Mark Ray to win the Post Vintage 40 Plus Expert.
Race seven featured two fellow Oklahoma friends of Trey Jorski and Greg Gordon battling in the Post Vintage 60 Plus Expert. Another fast gate of fourteen riders but it was Jorski’s 1-1 beating out Gordan’s 2-2 with former national AHRMA champion Bob Bean taking third overall. The second gate of race seven had our 70 Plus Experts of which Skip Kennedy manage his way to early leads in both moto’s to fend off fellow Texas riders Bobby Guilbeau and Lloyd Morgan.
Another race that generates a lot of excitement is the Ultima 125 class. In race eight it was our feature race with 27 different racers and all skill levels on the track. Yamaha mounted Dennis Daft of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma jumped to an early lead over Scott Wennerstrom, Cody Thomas, Heath Parker, and Eric Yarnell. Daft held Wennerstrom at bay until lap three when Wennerstrom made a final pass on Daft for the first moto win. Moto two had Chad Thomas jump to the lead with Daft immediately behind him and Wennerstrom coming fast. Again, lap three had Wennerstrom passing both riders to take first place and the overall. Daft finished second overall with his 2-2 and it was Heath Parker’s 4-4 finish to take third overall. Intermediate riders saw newcomer Jim Howard cruise pass the competition to first overall with his 1-1 finish over Darren Terry.
Race ten saw the Saturday sensation of Brandon Glenn appear on his 1983 Honda CR250 in the Ultima 250 Expert to take on pro racer Wennerstrom, Vince Monteleone, and Ricky Parker. Parker worked his to the front on lap one only to have Glenn pass him on lap two and eventually on the last lap bike issues forced him to the rear with Wennerstrom moving into second. The second moto had Wennerstrom with the holeshot but Glenn made the pass on lap three to move into first place. Glenn and his 1-1 finish toppled Winnerstrom’s 2-2 with Alessandro Reniero finishing third. In the Intermediate gate it was Keith Davis putting in another great ride over a very talented group of Intermediates for the win.
Race eleven featured Novice class action with the Post Vintage 50 Plus, Ultima Four-Stroke, and Post Vintage 60 Plus. Scott Dickens of Montalba, Texas grabbed an early lead in race one however Gerald Gatrell made the pass on lap two in each moto and making it stick. Vastly improving Sheila Monk carved her way from mid-pack each moto to take third place overall in 50 Plus Novice and Dickens finishing second. Randy Simmons and John Putkey swapped moto wins in the 60 Plus Novice with Simmons 2-1 gaining the overall for the day.
In our newest AHRMA championship acquiring motocross class it was race sixteen featuring the Pre-Modern Intermediate and Expert classes. With nearly 20 entries it was a success for the new class. Former World Champion Trampas Parker lead the way each moto with Vince Montelone, Jonathan Campbell, and Joshua Martin running toward the top in moto one. Failing to make the first gate drop though was John Moeller of Monroe, Louisiana and weekend hot-shoe Brandon Glenn. Moto two had Parker jump to the early lead only to have Moeller and Glenn battle behind them with Moeller maintaining the lead over Glenn to finish second. Overall, it was Parker with the win and Joshua Martin’s 4-4 finish earning him second overall in the class over Campbell’s 3-5 finish. The Intermediate class winner was Keith Davis beating out a slew of fast Intermediates.
Bayou Battle Class 100cc racing on the weekend once again had fans lined around the track both days. Our exhibition feature race was comprised of nearly 25 entries each day with racers primarily from the Gulf Coast states. Saturdays racing had Trampas Parker winning the Expert class but it was the Thomas brothers, Cody and Chad, from Mandeville, Louisiana along with Dennis Daft and Eric Yarnell putting on a great battle. Cody’s 2-3 finish earned him second overall besting brother Chad’s 4-2 finish. Sunday’s race put Spring, Texas racer Michael Keating into the mix along with Ricky Parker. Chad had the better of the group with his 2-2 finish earning first overall over Keating’s 1-3 and brother Cody’s 4-1 score. Intermediate Trevor Randle swept both days in Intermediate.
The entire weekend of races provided 850 total entries and 1200 people through the gate. With weather considerations that was a remarkable feat. Don and Francine Rainey were extremely cordial in allowing travelers to come in early from the previous race weekend to set up and provide a relaxing atmosphere for the out of state guest. Scott Sears provided another high quality race bike for auction as did other sponsors in helping the Jefferson Railway and Wetlands Foundation. The four-day event raised more than $6000 for youth activities the foundation funds. The honored legend this year was the H&H Music Racing Team from the 1970’s of which many of the racers were present and racing! Many racers also commented on the improvements to the dirt and surface preparation Don and his crew have created over the last year as well as the efforts to keep the track in a safe condition throughout the weekend. Hats off to all the volunteers and track workers for which this was the most trying of conditions experienced and the success of which it was executed was second to none. Looking forward to next year….”are we having fun yet”?