"The story of G: In school, because of the length of my last name I always signed my name with a huge, scribbled, difficult to copy 'G,' just to save work. It's become my legal signature, so everyone started calling me Gee." That's K&N sponsored pro ATV sand drag racer Gary "GEE" Armstrong's explanation and he's sticking with it.
The Florence, Oregon resident wrapped up his 2012 season by winning the Sport Bike 2 Division Championship of the Pacific Northwest Sand Drag Race Series. Armstrong also claimed second place in the Pro 2 Division of the series. Each Division runs 14 races which are scheduled from May through October, and this year the grid was filled with 40 of the most competitive racers from throughout the Pacific Northwest.
GEE hit the green light faster and more consistently in 2012 than 39 of his rivals.
The Sport Bike 2 Division Championship of the Pacific Northwest Sand Drag Race Series was Gary "GEE" Armstrong's first title crown.
"In 2011, I finished in fifth place in Sport Bike 2 and seventh place in the Pro 2 Division. But in 2010, my rookie year as a pro racer, I'd won the Oregon Off-road Racing Association's huge western regional Pro Race, so I knew I could perform better. My racing goal and training for 2012 was to finish in the top three in both the Sport Bike and Pro Divisions. It was a bold reach for me."
With so many motorsports to choose from and so little time, it's worth noting that sand drag racing continues to be one of the fastest growing new motorsport options. Like traditional drag racing, sand racing involves two combatants waiting for the green light, only instead of hearing huge tires probing desperately for traction, there's a visual explosion of sand shooting skyward like a massive North Shore breaker.
"Although the competition in both divisions was incredibly intense this season, our K&N filtered, Florence Yamaha YFZ kept us as first place points leader in both the Sport Bike and Pro Divisions for over halfway into the season, like into July," Armstrong recalls. "That's when I realized I actually had a shot at winning both the Sport Bike 2 and Pro 2 championships!"
After winning one title and finishing runner-up in another Armstrong is focused on winning both championships in 2013.
After making that realization Armstrong continued to trade between first and second place throughout championship points chase of both Divisions, and at several points he was tied for first. "It was a great show," said Armstrong. "The fans and promoters loved it. It was what racing should be, suspenseful, nail-biting, tight contests between two of us at the top wanting to claim both division titles!"
During a race in August Armstrong's engine case cracked. "Oil was leaking out of the crack after I won my heats," he said. "It was a potential 'game over' for my season and the end of any hopes I had of winning a championship. But my Florence Yamaha and Redline engine builder sponsors said 'Hey, you've worked your way into a good shot at two championships, let's not give it away!' Yamaha rushed us the parts and Redline worked overtime on the rebuild, finishing it the day before the next race."
During the rebuild they also discovered Armstrong's engine had a cracked cylinder head, but there was no time to get a new one ported and ready for the next race. "The head wasn't leaking coolant yet, so we huddled together again and decided to stay in the championship hunt and risk blowing the engine."
The gamble paid off as Armstrong won the Sport Bike 2 race that weekend and tied yet again for first place in Pro 2. And that's how things set up for him heading into the finals.
"In the finals I won the Sport Bike 2 Championship and ended up in second place in the Pro 2 series. This is my first championship and there's just no greater feeling of accomplishment than winning this! I just want to thank everyone for their support from sponsors to spectators. My dad's always telling me, 'If you can dream it, you can do it.' He's right!"
"I'm already training for the 2013 race season and racing locally, but my first official race of 2013 is April 5-7 at the 36th Annual Central Valley Sportsmen's and Car Show at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, California. In May, the Sand Drag Race Series fires up in the Pacific Northwest. I'm here to race and have fun, but I'm aiming to win both Series' titles in 2013!"
Other K&N racing stories about ATV off road racing include Motoworks' John Natalie and Chad Wienen Go One and Two at Ballance MX, K&N's Can-Am Motoworks Finishes First, Third and Fifth in WORCS Season Opener, Can-Am/Motoworks' Josh Frederick Wins 2010 WORCS Pro ATV Championship and Team MCR Racing's Davi Haagsma and Julie Russell Win WORCS Championships.
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