IGSA US Nationals, Barret Junction, Oct. 2001

Racers left to right: Randal Fuller, Mark Johnson, Brian Kiggins, Jake Kaplan (am luge), Gerhard Lanz, Dave Rogers, Scott Peer, Andy Lally, Bob Ozman, Neil Orta (starter), Darren Lott, Richard Hodkinson, Pat Moody, Richard Shoaff, and Chris McBride.
(photo courtesy of Chris McBride)

One of the toughest fields in the world gathered to contest the title for US Nationals Champion. Andy Lally came fresh from victory in Ohio, followed by fellow medalists, Chris McBride and Brian Kiggins. Richard Hodkinson came all the way from England with his "Aviemore Special" and the legendary Gerhard Lanz flew in from Austria.

Bob Ozman was the rocket in qualifying, blistering a 2:19 on the first run. The next fastest riders were 2 seconds behind him.

The first round featured mostly 3 man heats, the 4th slots empty to preserve the 16 man bracketing. Bob Ozman and Brian Kiggins dropped Chris McBride before the first switchback. Mark Johnson hung back off Darren Lott's shoulders all the way down and even broke occassionally to avoid taking the lead. Gerhard Lanz and Pat Moody transfered from their heats, as did Andy Lally and Dave Rogers.

The semis were tough all around. When Johnson saw he was faced with Ozman and Lott, he lamented "Now what am I supposed to do?" "Watch and learn,watch and learn," advised fellow underdog Kiggins. Ozman got away early, but Johnson was not about to give up. He held onto Lott like glue through several turns, the two sliding shoulder to shoulder. But eventually Lott hooked up early and shot off to the finals with Ozman.

Lanz and Rogers also shuffled the deck until these two top qualifiers transfered to the finals, leaving Moody and Lally to the consolation round.

(photo by Kent Kochheiser)

(photo by Kent Kochheiser)

The Final:
Aside from riding fast, Ozman was also starting fast. Coming into the first switchback, Ozman had a clear lead and his choice of fast lines.

Lott and Lanz had about the same momentum through the first part of the course, pitting them shoulder to shoulder coming into the first switchback.

Rogers was smart and hung back, allowing himself the luxury of a good line and possibly capitalizing on an error by either Lott or Lanz.

Gerhard likes to dive in hard on Darren, braking less and cutting hard inside. It's a move that's been repeated from Austria, to Scotland, Utah and beyond. Occassionally it works. But more often, when you are riding with the fastest guys in the world, they are not over braking for the turns. And if you go in hotter, you'll only have to slide off the extra speed.

Which is what happened.

Gerhard slide hard. Darren stuck the turn. Ozman bobbled. Darren dropped Gerhard and was off to see the Wizard.

(photo by Kent Kochheiser)

(photo by Kent Kochheiser)

Darren was reeling in Bob through the next Switchback but never quite had enough steam to attempt a full pass. Bob rode extremely hard and could certainly sense Darren's feet occasionally overlapping his neck. Darren would skim a heel and drop back. But never enough room or momentum to pass though the turns. That would have to wait for the long straight before the finish line.

Meanwhile, Dave picked his lines carefully and maximized traction around the turns. Gerhard recovered and the two were back in the hunt.

After 1.5 miles of rough road, switchbacks and cat tracks, this is what it came down to. Four of the fastest racers in the world, shoulder to shoulder, stretching for the finish line.

In the last 1/8 mile straight away, Rogers used the double draft of the Ozman/Lott battle to sling shot around on the right. Gerhard Lanz split off to the left. But only Rogers timed his pass correctly and once again the Gold was to be his.

IGSA gave out wonderful etched glass trophies instead of medals. And instead of Champagne, Darren showed Dave with a box of Cheese Nips he had handy.

(photo by Sherman Stebbins)

(photo by Chris McBride)

1st - Dave Rogers

2nd - Bob Ozman

3rd - Darren Lott

4th - Gerhard Lanz

5th - Pat Moody
6th - Brian Kiggins
7th - Andy Lally
8th - Mark Johnson
9th - Chris McBride
10th - Richard Hodkinson
11th - Scott Peer
12th - Richard Shoaff
13th - Randal Fuller

Visit IGSA's site for the Qualifying Times
Visit Officer Sherm's site for the
more pictures

Darren Lott ©2001