Photo: Mark Kariya
Although he put himself in a 60-point hole by scoring no points after a crash at round five, which left him with a broken shoulder, Kurt Caselli stayed in the hunt for the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship by winning every race he finished, including the ninth and final round near Lucerne Valley, California.
Going into the finale, he trailed 2007 champ David Pearson by eight points, setting this scene: To repeat as champion, Caselli needed to win and have Pearson finish third or worse.
FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team star Caselli did just what he needed to do at the finale, essentially leading from start to finish and winning for the seventh time in the nine-round tour.
Once he finished, he could only turn around and wait to see where Pearson finished. His heart undoubtedly sank when the THR Motorsports rider rolled up less than two minutes later, the second man to take the checkers.
But minutes later, officials from the 100s Motorcycle Club that hosted the race penalized Pearson five minutes for not refueling on top of a BLM-required catch mat.
As witnessed by many, Pearson pulled into his pit area not far behind Johnny Campbell Racing Honda’s David Kamo, whom he’d been chasing for most of the 40-mile first loop. Tired of eating dust, Pearson decided to make up some time in the pits, so he grabbed his dump can from his startled pit person, continued down the pit while refueling himself and then dropped the can at the end of pit row.
And while it may not have been prohibited by AMA rules, the rider instructions stipulated refueling be done on top of a mat, thus the penalty — five minutes — demoting Pearson to an official sixth place finish in the race and handing the championship to Caselli.