After moving from a Z400 to an LTR450 Natalie Craudell seemed to have the tools she needed to become a top competitor in the Women’s Expert class at Quadcross Northwest. With great end of the year performances, the 2016 season looked like it would be an great year for the young rider. But, an injury in the off season had other plans for Natalie. Still recovering, she started the season to salvage points, but her leg is almost completely healed and she’ll be working towards a full recovery in order to chase a championship. Natalie’s riding took a night and day change when she moved to the 450, and she will be one to watch in the coming years.
Tristan Low had a bad start to the 2016 season. He crashed in practice before round 1 and was out with a collarbone injury. Luckily for him, the specialist said he would be healed in time to take on rounds 3&4 at Albany and that’s just what he did. We caught up with Tristan just after his accident to learn more about this aspiring rider.
If you could race in any other time, when might that be?
Probably just a few years ago to have started early.
What do you dislike most in others on the track?
When they are over confident, and then ride unsafely due to that.
What is your earliest riding memory?
When I was like 3 or 4 when my brother Trae and I used to go out behind my Gramma’s house riding on our 50.
Do you remember your first race?
I remember my first race at Horn in 2014 like it was yesterday. Super fun day!
What was the happiest day of your racing career?
The happiest ever was Washougal ’15 from knowing I won the Production C championship.
What do you dislike most about yourself?
Not getting over my fears, such as doubles.
We interviewed reigning Quadcross Northwest pro Champion Ruby Davis about his racing, what he did in the off-season, and more. After breaking his elbow halfway through last season, Ruby managed to salvage enough points to retain the title and is looking to defend it this year. While the competition is stronger, Ruby’s outlook on life and racing has become more solid also. Will he be able to claim the championship again this year? Only time will tell.
We interviewed Chris Furches about his racing this year. Chris is the reigning indoor champion that just clinched his second title with a 61 point lead over second place and he won 9 out of the 12 rounds. Many of the races had full gates, so it was very challenging. He just got a Hybrid 450 to begin his practice toward racing it. That involves learning to shift, and control the power on it, and it’s something Chris is both frustrated by, and loves. Racing has had such a profound effect on Chris. It truly is his therapy (read parts 1 or 2 here and here). Autism can have symptoms like sensitivity to sound, noise, or the way something looks or feels. Chris had a terrible time with both noise and being dirty or wet. He used to wear ear plugs and his helmet at the track to deaden the sound of the engines. Not only does he not have to wear earplugs any more, he has learned to cope with mud and water through racing. At the track is where Chris shines (though he is getting excellent grades in school). He can socialize with other racers, he can do what he love, and all the while, learning new things to help him outside of racing. ” We are so proud of him,” said his mom, Stephanie, “He made my day yesterday. He looked up into the stands searched with his eyes to find me, then waved. That has never happened!”
While Autism is still being researched, and there’s a lot left to be known, it is certain that people afflicted with it are special. They are caring, they are smart, they are dedicated to what appeals to them, and while they have their struggles they certainly have their victories too. Here’s what Chris had to say about his racing (with a little interpretation in brackets by mom):
Can you tell us what it feels like when you are on the line, waiting for the gate to drop?
Do you like riding the 450? How is it different than your mini quad?
What’s the best part about going racing?
How did you come to the decision to move into the Pro class? I came to the decision when I realized I needed to push myself more, and what better way than pro? I want to give everyone in that class a good race this season!
What are you bringing to the Pro class? You didn’t have “breakout” year as a ProAm. Well, I’m riding more and more. I’ve ridden more than I have last year already. I hit the gym earlier as well as found some proven supplements to aid in my workouts. I feel unbelievably comfortable on my KTM now and I just lose track of everything besides me and the quad.
Ruby Davis locked up the 2014 Quadcross Pro championship last year to both applause and a few critics thinking he didn’t earn it because the turnout was low in the Pro class. Ruby started to prove the critics wrong by competing in the stacked Pro-Am class, then he took the trip to Texas for the ATV Pro Challenge where he finished just shy of the podium in the ProAM there (no Pro class available due to adverse weather) against top names in the national ATV MX scene. And now, he’s the first Pro to take on the challenge of defending his QXNW Pro title. And he’s not backing down from the challenge. Armed with new sponsors and the same rosy outlook on racing, Ruby is putting his hear and dedication in his season this year and you can expect him to be at the top of the box when the dust clears.
Another one of our regular contributors, Miranda Williams, has been crocheting up a storm, and preparing for her trek from Oregon to the East Coast as her son and boyfriend will be competing in the ATVMX nationals all this season. An adventure for sure! We talked Miranda into giving us an interview so we can introduce you to her. Check it out!
Austin Rohr hails from Gig Harbor, Washington. He’s one of our newest contributors, and we thought you’d like to get to know him better. You may have already seen a few of his articles. He was responsible for the dune closure coverage we did last Fall, as well as an opinion piece on the new Quadcross Northwest schedule. Austin has also reviewed several products. He’s a busy guy, but his passion for the sport is always what’s shining the brightest. It’s obvious in his subject choices, and spend a few minutes talking with him and you’ll understand that ATVs is a subject he’s quite passionate about. Get to know the person behind the writing.
How did you get starting with ATVs, and what led you into the racing community?
I got my first ATV for Christmas in 2006. It was a little Polaris Predator 90. At the time my friends had dirt bikes, but I had seen ATV freestyle at Monster Jam and was hooked. I got into racing by watching Huevos movies and YouTube videos. After riding a track for the first time in 2010 I was hooked.
I enjoy a lot about racing. I think my favorite part would be the challenge. I grew up riding trails, so motocross doesn’t necessarily come natural. It’s fun to ride something that pushes your limits. Beyond that, racing provides me with great opportunities and learning experiences, and I’ve met so many great people in this community. There’s nothing else like it.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, what you enjoy besides ATVs, etc.
Well between ATV’s and school there’s not a lot of time for much else, but I enjoy all sorts of things. Trucks and cars, anything with a motor really. I also like being outside, doing any kind of activity. Honestly I just like to mix it up and do new things when I’m not riding. I’m all about new experiences with good friends and family.
What kind of content do you hope to provide readers of Pit Traffic?
For me I just want to provide quality content that is informative and entertaining. There’s a lot of really good media for dirt bikes, but not so much for quads. I don’t want to copy them, but create content that is equally exciting.
The opener is out of the way and you came out with the win. How did you feel about that race as a starting point for your season? Well, I was really nervous because the week before the race I had gone to see my doctor and he said my collarbone (that I had broke in September) had not healed at all in the last 6 weeks and I was not able to train much at all during the off season because of it. I knew I would have my work cut out for me both physically and mentally. I feel fortunate- to say the least- that I was able to win the ATV race. The SxS result is not what I wanted, but I am hoping to make up for it at the next one.
Do you think it’s harder to defend a championship with a target on your back or to earn one for the first time (or earn one back)? I am not sure. I definitely feel more pressure to keep the plate than I did when I was chasing it down. Either way, the training is still hard.
You had an amazing opening round, almost securing the win at WORCS Taft leading all but the last lap. How did it feel to be up on the Pro podium again? It felt great to be on the podium again. I was really nervous coming into the first round with switching to Honda and not being too sure on where I was going to stack up with the top guys. Really stoked on the way the first round ended up.
Why the switch back to Honda? It certainly has fueled a little red vs. blue fire in the fans. Well in past years I had great success on the Honda and I’ve just always felt the most comfortable on that platform and I felt it was time for a change to take it to that next level. I’ve definitely stirred the pot a little with the blue and red fans, I’ve just always liked there quad and it hasn’t changed since I stopped riding them last so I was excited for a change.
How does it feel to finally shake off the gremlins and get a podium at the first round of WORCS? It feels really good to get on the podium at the first round of WORCS, now I just need to be consistent and stay focused and it should be a great year.
That red CanAm plastic seemed to house all the gremlins. Will you be sticking to yellow the rest of the year? Yes I went with red last year just to be different, but I guess my Can-Am wasn’t feeling the red, so we changed it back to yellow one race and I got on the podium. After that I said no more red!
What’s your plan of attack for the next rounds of WORCS to keep yourself on the box? My plan for the next WORCS race took place last week in the gym and on the bike. I just got to stay focused, keep pushing myself and take it one race at a time. Not to mention all the testing I have been doing with JRI shocks has helped a lot with how much longer I am able to ride race pace.