Purvines Beta riders Axel Pearson and Nick Burson sweep the top spots at the Silver State Trailblazers Sawmill Run AMA West Hare Scramble.
Story and Photos by Mark Kariya
Things couldn’t have gone better for Ron Purvines during yesterday’s fifth round of the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series.
When you sign up as title sponsor for an event, as he did with the Silver State Trailblazers’ Sawmill Run presented by Purvines Racing, you expect some exposure.
Purvines got that exposure and more, with Purvines Racing Beta stars Axel Pearson and Nick Burson taking the top two spots at the fast, dusty race in Panaca, Nevada, and this despite poor starts by both. Doing so elevated both in the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series points chase, Burson padding his points lead and Pearson jumping up to fifth. SRT KTM’s Cory Graffunder kept himself in the title hunt by taking a hard-fought third; he now sits second in points, 14 behind Burson.
Things didn’t look good for the Purvines crew at the start, however, as both Pearson and Burson struggled to get their Beta 480 RRs to light off while the rest of the Pro/AA line sped away in a cloud of thick dust. “I sat there for 20 seconds trying to start my bike!” Burson complained, though that was an exaggeration. When the duo finally did take off, they faced a wall of dust with Burson peeling off to the left while Pearson went right. As it worked out, Pearson’s line worked better, and he quickly worked his way into second while Burson ended up crashing in the dust with Graffunder unable to see the downed bike and running over it.
Somehow, though, Burson got going, charged through the dust and found himself third at the end of the first 15-mile lap. The only two ahead of him? His teammate and, somewhat incredibly, his teammate’s brother, Tuffy. It’s been a while since Tuffy Pearson has raced. In late 2012 and the beginning of 2013, he’d become a podium threat in the Hare & Hound Nationals, but he put his racing career on the back burner in order to go on a two-year mission for his church. No racing for two years. No riding for two years.
When he returned from his mission, Tuffy knew he wanted to do a few races, starting with this one in his hometown. So, using the same TM EN 300 he’d last raced in 2013, he lined up on the Pro/AA line, hoping he still had some of the speed he last demonstrated in 2013. He put that question to rest quickly by nailing a killer holeshot and kept the lead for the entire first lap, though he knew that having to pit for fuel at the end of each lap would cost him time. Well, that and the inevitable blisters he developed, the blisters really doing him in.
“I need to ride more and get some saddle time,” the privateer acknowledged. “It was a fun race being able to lead the first lap and have Axel really close. It was fun and I was riding good. The second lap I rode a little worse—started getting a little more tired—but I got into a good groove and kind of rode a pace. Once my hands blistered, I just completely went into survival mode and tried to not make any mistakes. I lost positions, but I just wanted to finish at that point.”
Axel Pearson took control of the race when Tuffy ducked in for that first pit stop, and Axel then rode the rest of the race out front, taking the checkered flag after two hours, 38 minutes and 58 seconds. Burson also passed Tuffy Pearson on lap two, putting himself into second place, but Axel was gone at that point.
“I tried to push the third lap, and it was getting really silty so I stopped for gas again just for [safety], points-wise,” Burson said. Axel made it with maybe a cup of gas left so it was probably a good call because I usually burn more gas than him so I probably wouldn’t have made it.”
Burson, who finished in 2:42:54, added, “I could’ve pushed harder and went for the win, but it wasn’t worth it in the long run.”
As it was, the 25 points Burson picked up for second place gives him a total of 106 with three rounds remaining.
Graffunder had to fight a determined Travis Coy for the first couple laps until he finally put it away and secured third place.
“I ate so much dust,” Graffunder said. “After [I passed him], I pretty much just rode through. I saw [Ian] Blythe was behind me the whole time pretty much. I could see him any time I looked back so I was like, ‘Just try to keep it steady, don’t fall down and make lots of dust!’”
Graffunder took the checkered flag in 2:46:18, but it wasn’t Blythe behind him at the finish. Instead, Rick’s Custom Shutters and Blinds Yamaha-mounted Ryan Smith made a huge charge on the last lap, coming from eighth all the way up to fourth, only seven seconds behind Graffunder. KTM of Aspen’s Blythe held on for fifth in 2:47:13, the round-two winner comfortably ahead of Coy’s 2:48:20 with Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/Precision Concepts Yamaha rider Justin Morgan seventh in 2:49:07, 10 seconds ahead of round-four winner Justin Bonita.
Tuffy Pearson survived for a noteworthy ninth while SRT KTM’s Steven Godman rounded out the top 10 overall followed by the first two in the hotly contested FMF Pro 250 category: Maxxis/FMF/RPM Racing KTM’s Dante Oliveira and SRT Husqvarna rider J.T. Baker who’d led the way until late on the last lap.
2016 Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series
Silver State Trailblazers’ Sawmill Run presented by Purvines Racing
Results: May 22, 2016 (Round 5 of 13)
1. Axel Pearson-Bet
2. Nick Burson-Bet
3. Cory Graffunder-KTM
4. Ryan Smith-Yam
5. Ian Blythe-KTM
6. Travis Coy-KTM
7. Justin Morgan-Yam
8. Justin Bonita-Yam
9. Tuffy Pearson-TM
10. Steven Godman-KTM
11. Dante Oliveira-KTM
12. JT Baker-Hus
2016 Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Regional Championship Series Points Standings (after 5 of 13 rounds)
1. Nick Burson-106/1 win
2. Cory Graffunder-92
3. Justin Bonita-90/1 win
4. Travis Coy-68
5. Axel Pearson-60/1 win
6. Kevin Rookstool-59
7. Ian Blythe-46/1 win
8. Steven Godman-45
9. Dante Oliveira-44
10. Joey Fiasconaro-40