Burson, Pearson 1-2 at Sawmill Run WHS

Reigning Western Hare Scramble Champion Nick Burson grabs a victory at the Sawmill Run in Pioche, Nevada. Axel Pearson finishes second.

Though the Sawmill Run—put on by the Silver State Trail Blazers in Pioche, Nevada—could be considered a desert round, Nick Burson knew it’d be no cakewalk for him. That’s primarily because Purvines DA8 Racing teammate Axel Pearson would be lining up as well and since he grew up in the area, he’d be extremely hard to beat.

Despite a run-in with a closed gate, Nick Burson led from start to finish, thus avoiding most of the dust that plagued his rivals. He became the first repeat winner this season and moved back into the points lead after fending off repeated attacks from teammate and local favorite Axel Pearson who settled for second, seven seconds back. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

“I’ve always ridden well here,” Pearson said. “This is where I won my first race ever, is up here.”

And he’s only gotten faster since then, of course. In fact, as Burson pointed out, “I don’t think I’ve beat him up here in a long time, a couple years even! Last year he beat me at the hare & hound and he beat me at the hare scrambles.

“He goes really fast here and he’s confident. I know that feeling in Ridgecrest, [California, where I grew up].”

But the Sawmill Run, which served as round six of the 10-race Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series, found Burson breaking that streak and coming out on top in a race that turned out to be extremely dusty, rocky and fast.

Aided by a great start, Burson got his YZ450FX out front early and as he dove off the pavement onto the dirt, the pack had to eat his dust. Well, it did for a little while, at least.

Being the leader sometimes has its disadvantages, too, and Burson was the first to arrive at a closed cattle gate.

Cole Conatser dealt well with the conditions and beat J.T. Baker for the FMF Pro 250 class win; it marked only the second time Baker’s lost, and Conatser has been the one handing him those defeats. PHOTO BY MARK KARIYA.

“I didn’t know what to do,” he confessed. “I kind of panicked and I was like, ‘Well, I’m going to wheelie and hit it as hard as I can! I almost made it over, but it caught my linkage and my rear knobby and I got locked in to the bottom two [strands of wire]. I should’ve stopped and opened it on the end. It would’ve helped me in the long run to do that, to just take the time. “But in that situation, I was freaking out!”

Fortunately for him, the riders who quickly caught up at that point helped get him untangled and then took off more or less in the order they arrived.

That kept Burson in the lead, and he stayed there for the rest of the afternoon, though Pearson quickly put himself into second and made several runs at him. In fact, Pearson was arguably the fastest rider around the 20-mile loop the Trail Blazers laid out.

“I love these kind of wide-open, sketchy two-track roads—I love that!” he declared. “I don’t know why, but I do so I was confident and I felt like I could win.”

Unfortunately for the hometown favorite, he didn’t enjoy as good a start as his teammate and trying to punch through the walls of dust when he came upon lappers was too tall an order. Instead, he found himself on the ground a few times, and he had to settle for second place on the day, just seven seconds behind Burson after more than two and a half hours of racing.

Beta’s Max Gerston spent most of the afternoon in a lonely third place aboard his 390 RR, the EnduroCross specialist wondering where the tight, technical terrain was, save for a single short boulder field near the finish of the 20-mile loop.

“I’m not going to sit here and [play] shoulda, woulda, coulda, but if I would’ve gotten the holeshot or something, it would’ve been a completely different race for me,” he insisted. “Instead, I’m riding in the dust and the dust is so thick, it was impossible [to pass]. I didn’t even know I got third! I thought I was fourth or fifth or something.”

It just wouldn’t be right if one of the Pearson’s didn’t win. Nick Pearson’s son Max upheld family honor by taking the overall MRAN 65cc C/AMA Pee Wee race. PHOTO B MARK KARIYA.

Gerston’s third-place finish behind Burson and Pearson dropped him from the top of the points chart to second, 132-125. Fourth-place finisher Joey Fiasconaro holds third at 110, the Gas Gas EC 300 rider also riding by himself except when dealing with lappers.

Tuffy Pearson, Axel’s brother, rode an excellent race to fifth overall and first MRAN rider followed by Austin Garcia, Purvines DA8 rider Ryan Marshall and the first three FMF Pro 250 finishers: Cole Conatser, J.T. Baker and Tayson Weeks.