SIX HOURS WITH DESTRY ABBOTT’S KX450F
The race itself had been a blast. It was scheduled to start
at 10: 30 a.m., and I showed up around 8: 30 just to see if
Ron Lawson needed any last-minute help with the course.
Lawson helps design the Glen Helen Endurance-series
courses and is always stressed on race day. Our team consisted of myself, Destry “Old Man” Abbott and Gary “The
Kid” Sutherlin. We would be riding Abbott’s personal 2013
Kawasaki KX450F (more on the bike later). We all agreed
that Abbott should start the race; after all, he was the oldest
member on the team. If anyone knows how to do a dead-
engine start, it’s Destry. With a wave of the green flag,
Abbott nailed the start, grabbing the holeshot and the lead
as the riders disappeared into the off-road sections of the
Glen Helen facility. All was going according to plan, until the
riders reemerged and entered the motocross section. The
bike out front was blue, the bike in second was red, and,
finally, Abbott emerged in third. He came riding through the
pits yelling something like, “How did those guys get in front
of me? I never got passed!” Sutherlin looked at me like,
“Wow, this guy is so old he doesn’t remember when people
I assured him that Abbott wasn’t that old. It was possi-
ble that the other riders had missed an entire section
unintentionally on the first lap. That was a matter for the
officials to figure out later. Abbott put his head down for
the next two laps on the nine-mile course that consisted
of motocross, Supercross, EnduroCross, a Trophy Truck
course, sand washes, ridges and tight singletrack trails,
getting us within striking distance of the leaders.
I was next on the bike, and, to be honest, I was a little
nervous. I hadn’t even thrown a leg over our race bike,
and now we were in a battle for the lead. Abbott handed
the bike to me; the pit crew gassed it up, and off I went in
search of the leaders. About halfway down the first sand
wash, with fifth gear pinned, I came to appreciate how
well Abbott had done his homework. The bike was awesome. It had smooth power and predictable handling.
Today was going to be a good day!
I had a great battle with Jeff Loop for the lead, eventually passing him on the ridge, right before a high-speed
pavement section where Loop unfortunately got tangled
up with a slower rider and went down really hard. In the
lead now with no one around, I headed into the tight single-track segment. About halfway through this section, I
started to hear a buzzing sound, and it was rapidly getting
louder. Next thing I knew, a white front fender appeared
on the inside of me. Then, going into the next turn, it
appeared on the other side. Someone had caught me
from behind, but it certainly didn’t sound like Loop’s 450.
The course opened up, and I was able to put some dis-
tance between myself and whoever it was. It wasn’t until I
got into the pits that I learned that the angry pack of killer
bees was current West Coast Hare Scrambles champion
Cory Graffunder aboard a Husqvarna TXC310. In the Six-
Hour, a 310 is considered a small bike, and when one is on
your tail, revving and shifting, it sounds like a 125. I head-
ed out for my final lap of the first ride, knowing I would be
able to gap Graffunder in the high-speed sections, but I
also knew that when it came to the tight technical trails, he
would be able to make up time. Sure enough, the angry
bees caught up in the singletrack again. Graffunder was
flying! It took everything I had to keep him behind me; you
never want to be the guy who loses the lead for the team.
GLEN HELEN ENDURANCE SERIES
Gary Sutherlin felt right at home aboard Abbott’s ride.
Abbott runs Dunlop MX51s, front and rear, with Moose foam-tire inserts, Excel A- 60 rims and Talon hubs.