2021 Ridgecrest NGPC Report —
In 2020, the Ridgecrest round of the AMA National Grand Prix series wasn’t featured for what might have been first time ever. So, it was a welcome return to the high-speed, high desert in 2021. The Ridgecrest course is known for being fast and choppy. In addition, there are a few unique features to the track. One example is two large piles of chunked asphalt that span a few hundred feet across, each. Though the piles have formed asphalt rollers atop, the riders don’t have much difficulty traversing the section. But it’s still one of the more unique obstacles on the circuit. What’s more, the course also splits a tore up, old mobile home. Again: unique. Most racers seem to enjoy the circuit, as when the dirt is well prepped it’s about as good as any wet desert. For this year’s edition, Clay Hengeveld would again race the KX450X in the open Pro class, while Robby Bell would take on the Vet race.
Clay Hengeveld – 9th place Pro
When the green light flashed to signal the start of Sunday’s 90-minute pro race, Clay’s KX450X dug into the earth to propel him off the line right at the front of the pack. With elbows wide, Hengeveld jostled for the holeshot and came out of the first corner in second position. From there, the Kawasaki rider accumulated valuable experience running at the front of the premier division pack early-on.
Through the first few laps, Hengeveld settled into a battle that spanned from the sixth- to ninth-place riders. Unfortunately, early in this battle, Clay suffered damage to his hydration pack hose tip. This left him unable to drink from his pack. Though the inability to hydrate began to play a part in the hot, dry conditions, Clay held tough and hung with the riders ahead. A couple late-race mistakes saw Henge unable to make push up into them, but the Team Green rider crossed with a respectable ninth-place finish.
Robby Bell – 1st place Vet AA
Saturday’s Vet race was destined to be a two-rider battle for the top spot between Justin Seeds and Robby Bell. As the race began, Bell lost his balance slightly up the start straight, which held him back slightly, relegating the Kawasaki rider to third place through the first turn. Seeds was able to get to the lead and set sail, while Dirt Bike Magazine’s Mark Tilley slotted in between the two. Through the first half-a-lap, Robby sized up the magazine editor. After a couple stabs at the pass, Robby was able to out-brake Tilley and take over the second position into a fast left-hand sweeper.
Robby had his work cut out at this point, as Seeds had stretched out a gap. Even after the second lap, Bell wasn’t able to make a dent in the lead. Then, on the third lap, the KX450X-mounted veteran was finally able to close the distance. As the racers came into the man-made infield section, Robby came in underneath Seeds through a right-hand corner. The riders briefly touched, which allowed Robby to make the overtake and control the race from the front. From there, Bell maintained the lead to the finish, taking the overall win on the day.
Robby Bell, Team Manager
“It was good to be back at Ridgecrest. This was always a place I was fond of racing. Clay took on the 450 Pro’s again this weekend and garnered some really good experience out there. He holeshot Saturday’s AA race and led the first lap. Then again in the Pro race, he started right up front in second. It’s been a quick transition for Clay to jump into the big ranks, and he’s doing really well straightaway. Now, he has a couple weeks to actually train on the bike, and I think he can get up closer to the top-five by the end of the year.
“For my Vet race, Seeds and I now have a battle within the battle, as we both try to get the start on the other. And the rider that gets the jump then owes the other guy a look-over to rub it in up the start straight. Well, unfortunately, Seeds got the better of me on the start this weekend, with the look-back to match. Honestly, I thought he had this one. On that third lap, if I wouldn’t have been able to close the gap at all, I think that would have been it. But, then I did close in, and when he opened up the door slightly, I shoved my front wheel in there and took the spot. Justin was really close at the end, though. So, I think we’ll be having some more great battles to finish out the year.”
Credit: Mark Kariya
Click the link to view results:
View more results by clicking here to visit the NGPCscoring site.
2021 NGPC Schedule
- Jan 16-17 – Mesquite, NV
- Feb. 13-14 – Taft, CA
- Mar. 6-7 – Devore, CA
- Apr. 10-11 – 29 Palms, CA
- Apr. 24-25 – Lake Havasu, AZ
- Aug. 21-22 – Preston, ID
- Oct. 2-3 – Ridgecrest, CA
- Oct. 30-31 – Blythe, CA
- Nov. 13-14 – Primm, NV
- Nov. 27-28 – Delano, CA
Click Here to view and learn more about the companies our race team partners with.
Click Here to view Race Team Catalog and learn more about the parts we use to build our rider’s race bikes.