TransWorld SLAM | Josh Hill Cleans House
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The TransWorld SLAM is an event like no other. Now in its sixth annual running, the TW SLAM pits two riders against each other in a head-to-head sprint race, with only the winner advancing to the next round. Back in 2009, Kawasaki Team Green rider Dean Wilson earned the inaugural event win, and we were so stoked to see the Scottish Lad top the final that we decided right then and there to put him on the cover of the issue we were working on at the time. Since then, the SLAM Championship Belt and the $5000 winner-take-all purse has been complimented by the December issue cover shot, making the win at the event one of the most prestigious off-season accomplishments around. Wil Hahn topped Cole Seely in and exciting final in 2010, and then Justin Bogle showed up to win two consecutive championships and cover shots in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, we added a twist to the final: an additional lap (for a total of three) and a wild-card rider, chosen by the editors to compete in the main after being eliminated earlier in the program. In 2013, Matt Goerke and Cooper Webb found themselves joined in the final by Darryn Durham. A collision in the first turn between Webb and Durham saw Goerke race away with last year’s prizes, in spite of a valiant effort by Webb that saw the two cross the finish line only inches apart.
This year, privateer Josh Hill earned the top honors aboard a bike provided by Escondido Cycle Center, a multi-line shop in San Diego County. At the last minute, Hill secured some support from Mitch Payton and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, and he showed up to Milestone Raceway with the added confidence that having Payton and crew in your corner can bring.
Fourteen riders showed up to try and qualify for the eight-rider program during the 15-minute timed-practice session on Milestone MX’s Supercross track. After opening the track on the Thursday prior, the Milestone MX crew fine-tuned the course for the weekend’s racing by adjusting the finish line double and pair of triple jumps. Initially, the triples were larger than the regulation 75-foot size, and some riders actually had difficulty clearing the daunting obstacles. Perfect track conditions greeted the riders for the SLAM, however, and the top eight riders who advanced to the SLAM program were led by none other than home-track favorite, Nick Schmidt, better known as the Milestone Assassin.
1. Nick Schmidt 48.667
2. Josh Hill 48.865
3. Jessy Nelson 49.934
4. Scott Champion 50.085
5. Kyle Partridge 50.466
6. Michael Leib 50.637
7. Zac Commans 50.912
8. Brandon Scharer 51.250
9. Ryan Surratt 51.690
10. Jeremy Byrne 51.739
11. Tevin Tapia 51.856
12. Kevin Weisbruch 53.935
13. Hayden Kronquist 55.582
14. Brett Hottel 1:00.176
HEAT 1: Nick Schmidt vs. Brandon Scharer
In spite of breaking his engine cases the day prior to the SLAM, Schmidt put the power to the ground best with his fresh JB Weld patch job and led 250 rider Brandon Scharer into turn one. One of two riders in the program mounted on a small bike, Scharer was obviously out powered by the Milestone Assassin. Still, Scharer never gave up and raced to the finish, but it was Schmidt who advanced to Semi 1.
HEAT 2: Josh Hill vs. Zac Commans
Pitted together under the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki tent, Hill and amateur sensation Zac Commans found themselves lined up next to each other in the second heat. Hill rocketed off the line and led Commans through turn one, and was never seriously challenged as he raced to the win and advanced to Semi 1.
HEAT 3: Jessy Nelson vs. Michael Leib
Making his competition debut aboard the new Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Red Bull/KTM, Jessy Nelson powered off the line on his 350SX-F and led Michael Leib into turn one in what would be the most exciting heat race. Leib and Nelson made contact in turn one and the buzzsaw noises that their knobby tires made as they rubbed together got the crowd worked into a frenzy. The two riders played cat and mouse for much of the first lap, but Nelson eventually gained solid control and advanced to Semi 2.
HEAT 4: Scott Champion and Kyle Partridge
Privateers Scott Champion and Kyle Partridge faced off in the fourth and final heat race, and the two made contact multiple times during the first parts of lap one. Champion mis-timed the north rhythm section, however, and lost touch with the lanky Honda rider, who rode off with the win and a ticket to semi 2.
SEMI 1: Josh Hill vs. Nick Schmidt
The Milestone Assassin launched off the line and held control entering turn one in the first semi, but Hill squared up turn one and blasted beneath Schmidt to steal the lead before the duo even hit the first rhythm section. Once out front, Hill was determined to show everyone who was the fastest rider on hand, and he rode a blistering pace all the way to the finish.
SEMI 2: Jessy Nelson vs. Kyle Partridge
Things heated up in the second semi when Partridge and Nelson traded paint several times throughout the two-lap race. So intense was their battle, that the pair were actually unable to complete a few obstacles in the tricky rhythm sections. In the end, Partridge barely edged out an angry Nelson out at the checkered flag.
For his never-say-die attitude in his semi, Nelson was chosen as the Wild Card in the three-man final and joined Hill and Partridge on the line. At the drop of the gate, Hill leapt into the lead and never looked back. Behind him, Partridge and Nelson resumed the battle that they enjoyed in the semi, trading paint and block passes until it all came to a scary end when Partridge’s bike blew up in a rhythm section. Partridge bailed off his dead machine mid-air, and Nelson was unable to avoid the downed bike. Thankfully, both riders were uninjured in the spill, but the damage was done and Hill rolled to an easy win. Nelson was able to remount and cross the finish line, but Partridge required assistance to get his Honda back to the pits.
1. Josh Hill (Kaw)
2. Jessy Nelson (KTM)
3. Kyle Partridge (Hon)