Norman and Cody Get The Points
In Honor of “OX”
Statement By JCR’s Colton Udall:
“I think they added like 10 minutes total. I maybe gained 4-5 seconds, there was a line, a little short cut…a line I had taken in the last 500. I would’ve never taken it if I had known it would cost us like that. For such a small little deal I feel embarrassed about it. It was a pre run mistake by me and I didn’t know exactly where the spot was. It seems like I didn’t do as much of the homework I could have. It was a small mistake that cost us badly.
And there’s 100 yards of dirt where they’re rebuilding the hwy before you turn into Uruapan. I guess its just another learning lesson on my part and just adding it to my experience.
It’s a down day today…Thinking that we had won yesterday was awesome, that made me feel good for everything I put into it. I pretty much gave it everything that I had and Kamo did an amazing job. If I think about how I felt yesterday, it felt really good but it still didn’t compare to how I felt when Ox and I won the last San Felipe 250. Winning with OX in the 250 was one of the best moments of my life.”
In what is being called the closest ever SCORE Baja 500 overall motorcycle finish, Colton Udall and new team mate David Kamo, thought they had defeated JCR rivals and 1x plate-holders Kendall Norman and Quinn Cody. Colton, riding the 0x JCR HONDA CRF 450x in tribute of his late team mate Jeff “Ox” Kargola, crossed the finish line of the 454 mile race on the exact same second as last years champions Norman and Cody. There has been a more random time adjusted finish in the race, but never before has the contest come down to such a close match were both bikes rolled across the line together at precisely the same second. The 0x beat 1x by a time adjusted 30 seconds but the results were overturned the next day after “tracking review committee” (TRC) determined penalties had occurred.
It should be noted that SCORE instituted the Tracking Review Committee (TRC) two years ago after it began to enforce speed limit and course deviation rules after years of turning a blind eye to some times blatant rules violations. Sometimes the shortened lines (aka cheater lines) were substantial and other times minor. After Robby Gordon was filmed pinching off several miles of the course at 2009 San Felipe 250, SCORE put the hammer down and suddenly enforced penalties on over 80% of the field in that year’s Baja 500. This caused shockwaves throughout SCORE’s members so the idea behind the TRC was to have an independent, non-biased, third party entity review and evaluate the data that IRC collects. IRC is totally uninvolved in the process of reviewing data. They only collect and distribute it to the TRC. This committee has been comprised of three individuals, one of whom is Morris Norman, the architect behind the software that analyzes the tracking data and, coincidentally, the father of Kendall Norman. This is a potential conflict of interest and it was suspected by a few insiders that the decision to have the father of a top racer (Kendall Norman) processing the data would come back to haunt SCORE. There is a shroud of secrecy surrounding the TRC yet one member insists to RDC that the TRC looks at the data blindly and that the reviewers do not know who’s data they are analyzing, thus removing any obvious conflict of interest. Unfortunately however, this cannot be verified by RDC because everything is so “hush-hush” behind those closed doors. Essentially, when Kendall Norman lost this race, it was his own father that would be behind closed doors with one other person, to determine weather any penalties were actually committed which would overturn the results. This puts a few people in a very tight spot because no matter how much the TRC insists that the reviewers are blind to the data, it’s a moot point until someone else is allowed to be in the room during this process.
The betting line would not have favored Colton Udall and David Kamo to win this race and if you asked their rival stable-mates Kendall Norman and Quinn Cody, the 1x duo would not have ever bet against themselves to give up another points gap at this Baja 500. There’s no Pete Rose style wagering in the JCR campo. Kamo was essentially unproven in Baja until today but made his point well known that he would not let Kendall run away from him over the summit. If there were a betting line at Caliente, a bet on Colton and Kamo to win would pay about 2:1. Betting $100 on Norman would’ve paid you only $15.
And David Kamo was thrilled to get the nod from JCR and even more honored to be chosen to fill the seat “Ox” had occupied. Quinn Cody actually had an instrumental part in bringing Kamo over to the JCR HONDA regime. Kamo was not happy on his Zip-Tip Husky ride and pretty much turned his keys in. Cody passed this info on to Johnny Campbell and made the connection. Kamo is no slouch, but has very little experience in Baja and this would be his first appearance at the Baja 500.
Colton Udall has had an extremely difficult year that just ended today. It was a year ago that he and Ox had lost to Kendall and Quinn in the last 500. Colton’s split times against Norman were stronger but at the end of last years race, the duo gave the 500 to Norman and Cody. Further into Colton’s challenging 52-week bump was Baja rookie Justin Imhof’s serious crash in the Baja 1000. This was highly costly to the off-road community as one of the hottest up and coming talents (Imhof) nearly lost it all. In the wake of Imhof’s crash, the 1x plate slipped right out of reach. Then the ultimate toll on Colton was the sudden death of Ox only 5 weeks ago. Colton told RDC personally that, “It’s been tough, the toughest thing I’ve ever been through”.
One could speculate that all of these setbacks in the last year would bring a man down to second guess his purpose and motivation. But in Colton’s case, he proved to be worthy of the massive challenge to recover from this strife and emerge on top of the podium. If you put it into perspective, it is monumental for him to bounce back from losing Ox and rebuild his program with a new team mate, who up until three weeks ago was still unnamed.
Here’s how the probable best day in Colton’s life played out today: He left the line 30 seconds behind Norman (1x) and actually put some pressure on him for the first 80 miles or so. When Colton got back on the 0x after Kamo’s impressive summit run, Mechanics T.J. and Eric Saratin, noticed a small hole in the exhaust on a filter and tire change pit stop. Instantly, the decision was made to change the pipe and that cost Colton’s 0x close to 8 minutes versus the 1x. So he spent some hard time to recapture the lost time, not unlike the way Colton has built his impressive career: with a hard work ethic and just chipping away with his head down. By the time Colton and 0x reached the Meadow in the Valley of Trinidad, he snipped off 04:10 of those lost minutes. After crossing the overpass toward the west coast, he trimmed that deficit in half. At race mile 317, Baja Pits #9 recorded Colton and Quinn Cody (1x) in a horse race, side by side. After he passed Cody, Colton increased his physical lead to 4 minutes (as recorded by Baja Pits #10) and would not give a tire up to 1x until (literally) they both reached the finish line at the same moment. A refreshed Kendall Norman reclaimed the 1x bike for the inbound finish into Ensenada and actually was on his way to taking control of the race back. But time ran out on the final 1000 meters of pavement toward the finish line at the coast and Colton Udall beat the multi-time champion of Baja, Kendall Norman by at time adjusted 30 seconds.
But that party ended the next day when the results were overturned.
Earlier this season, Colton and “Ox” (RIP) beat Norman and Cody in San Felipe in March but were losing to Norman in the morning when his 1x bike failed after losing all of its coolant and blowing up on the Diablo Dry Lakebed.
Norman, who won three championships last year, does not like to lose. Nevertheless, Norman had some worthy compliments to Colton for making it happen today and said that under the circumstances of Ox’s untimely passing and Colton’s uphill battle, he wouldn’t have wanted to give it up to anyone else any other way. Kendall Norman was deemed the winner after review of the data.
Bad luck in the past and a little bit of a steeper learning curve had been Colton’s nemesis in prior season’s but he knew he could beat Kendall Norman when RDC interviewed him in “Colton Rising” http://www.race-dezert.com/home/colton-rising-17718.html 6 weeks ago. The following quote didn’t make it into the story he said, “I know I can beat him (Norman), head to head, no problem. I was 2 minutes faster than him in the first 100 miles of the 500 last year. I had him in all the split times last year, except the last one where I gave up a minute and half after I crashed.” Colton’s confidence shouldn’t be mistaken for arrogance, it’s just a surety that he represents in his self awareness.
Additionally, Colton’s time has come and he is one of Johnny Campbell’s biggest payoff’s, because Johnny invests in people, not for financial gain, but to see them achieve a higher standard or purpose. That’s exactly what Johhny has as the uptimate icing on the cake of an already memorable weekend. (Campbell was inducted into the Baja Legacy Hall of Fame just two nights ago). Our hats go off to Colton Udall, David Kamo, all of JCR and most of all, the off road community for today’s triumphant and historic tribute to Jeff “Ox” Kargola.
Kendall Norman and Quinn Cody are the winners of the 2011 BAJA 500.