AURORA, Ill. (Jan. 30 2008) — The Toyota AMA Arenacross Series is off to another great start with three riders vying for the number-one position. Through 12 rounds, the new displacement rule and more laps for the main events in the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series’ premier class has led to some highly exciting racing and a three-way title chase that will come down to the final round in Green Bay (Wis.).
The new rules have also led to lengthy interpretation discussions in the pits. Often involved in these discussions is head official Harv Whipple.
Whipple took over as the head referee for the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series beginning with the 2005-’06 competition season. Well schooled in the art of cool-headed negotiation and the interpretation of the AMA rulebook, Whipple continues to work with the best interests of the riders and safety in mind.
Arenacross.com caught up with Whipple to get his take on the 2007-’08 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series season thus far, the major changes that have been implemented this year and a few other things we though you might find interesting.
Arenacross.com: Harv, when you’re not pointing the black flag or tearing down bikes to see if they’re up-to-spec, what do you do during the week?
Harv Whipple: “Actually I am an electrician at a hydraulic press manufacturing facility and have been for 13 years, so I have built up a bit of vacation. I use my earned time off to work the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series events as well as the new AMA PRO ATV MX Series during the summer. Traveling is much better during the summer let me tell you. I have been spending more time in the airports lately than at the events. My wife Cindy works the will call trailer at the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series races so it’s nice to be able to travel with her. We have two teenage daughters, and the events we drive to our kids sometimes come. We also let them to fly to one race a year of their choice. They chose Vegas this past year because they had two cousins that raced in the Amateur Arenacross World Finals at the MGM. They both ride pit bikes, but don’t have an interest in racing themselves. Unfortunately for me, they are starting to have an interest in the racers though (laughter).
Arenacross.com: You get a chance to see a lot of racing so you’ve got to be a pretty good judge of talent. Who are some of the maybe lesser-known racers coming up that we should keep an eye on?
Harv Whipple: “Obviously Tyler Bright has opened some eyes after his wire to wire win in the premier class in Albany (NY). Although I am starting to wonder if it was one of those ‘one hit wonder’ type things because he has yet to be back on the podium once in the Arenacross class. Nathan Skaggs is another young gun that has been very impressive and is currently tied for 8th place with Bright’s teammate Jim Neese. In the Lites class, the Sewell brothers (Travis & Shane) have been on fire lately as well as Utah’s Gray Davenport. The Super Mini class on amateur day has some new Toyota AMA Arenacross Series up-and-comers that are amazing racers as well. It’s always fun to watch the kids on Sunday.
Arenacross.com: Do you feel we’ll see some interesting strategy coming into play as to which Toyota AMA Arenacross Series races the points leaders — and pursuers — will attend as we near the finals (March 15) in Green Bay?
Harv Whipple: “Well, right now the strategy would be to beat Chad Johnson. I am afraid if riders go to an opposite event it won’t do them much good because they won’t gain points. There are advantages and disadvantages to the dual weekend races. I just want the riders to be taking care of because of all the hard work they put in.
Arenacross.com: Tell us about the best race you’ve seen this year.
Harv Whipple: “The best race would have to be Friday night in Baltimore. Chad (Johnson) put so much pressure on Kelly Smith that on the last lap he fell down three times – but never hit the ground once. He was all over the track trying to hold him off. It reminded me of watching the last lap of the Daytona 500 with a green, white, checkered finish. The Des Moines opener was good too with Demuth coming from the back row to win, but nothing will beat Baltimore for a while. I am excited for the rest of the season though, I think the best racing is yet to come.
2007-’08 AMA Arenacross Class Point Standings
1. Chad Johnson, Hon, 282
2. Kelly Smith, Kaw, 257
3. Brock Sellards, Kaw, 254
4. Teddy Maier, Hon, 210
5. Keith Johnson, Yam, 205
6. Kevin Johnson, Yam 199
7. Tommy Hofmaster, Yam, 167
8. Jim Neese, Suz, 164
9. Nathan Skaggs, Hon, 164
10. Danny Smith, Hon, 149
Tickets for the Feb. 1-3 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series at the Hampton Coliseum are available through www.arenacross.com
Tickets for the Feb. 1-3 Toyota AMA Arenacross Series at the Chevrolet Centre are available through www.arenacross.com
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