Snowshoe GNCC – One of America’s Toughest Races

Mud, blood and beer.

From my experience this past weekend in Snowshoe, W.Va., those three words pretty much sum up the AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC.

  1. Mud: Class winners often disappear for lengthy amounts of time back to their trailers to clean up for the podium.
  2. Blood: One of the most grueling courses in event history. It’s no wonder racers despise that long drive up to the top of the mountain, even seasoned pros like Kailub Russell.
  3. Beer: There certainly was no shortage. In one of the rowdiest race crowds I’ve ever seen, there was always a beer to be offered and a friend to be made. It made for one of the most entertaining events I’ve been to in quite some time.

How it started: The Blackwater 100

In the mid-70’s, a local preacher reached out to promoter Davey Coombs in hopes of putting on a motorcycle race in Davis, West Virginia., to draw people and dollars to the area.

Coombs devised a course that began in town and ventured off into the surrounding harsh environment. Finishing just one of the four 25-mile laps was considered an accomplishment.

The Blackwater 100 dissolved in 1993, but Coombs went on to create the GNCC Series, with the Snowshoe event celebrating the Blackwater’s heritage.

A race like no other

Nestled nearly 4,500 feet above sea level, Snowshoe Mountain Resort provided a unique setting for the AMSOIL Snowshoe GNCC in its 13th year.

Racers lined up in the heart of the village on Snowshoe Drive and started on the asphalt (unique to all other GNCC events). After they left the village, racers traversed down one side of the mountain through rock gardens, massive tree roots and the infamous Howard’s Hole (where you’ll find the mud and the beer) only to climb back up to the other side of the mountain.

This event saw sections of trail that hadn’t been touched since 2008. Coupled with the above-mentioned obstacles, the few miles racers hit on the open ski slopes offered a moment to relax before racers kicked themselves back in gear.

Fans like no other

They call them “Mud Fleas.”

They wait in the wings of Howard’s Hole with their coolers and high spirits. When an ATV or dirt bike rider falls victim to a mud hole, they come to the rescue, freeing them to continue racing. They tell them what lines to take, cheer them on and certainly know how to have a good time.

But, most importantly, they love their state and they love GNCC racing.

In the end, Walker Fowler and his Yamaha took the checkers in the ATV class, while Kailub Russell won the dirt bike class on his KTM.

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