BONNE TERRE, MO -- Have you ever had one of "those weeks"?  You know -- when one terrible thing happens right after another.  Then, things begin to look up...  But, is it a mirage?  Hmmm...  Definitely could be.  After all, we are in Missouri’s desert.  That's right.  The all "sand" terrain at Big River Sand Drags makes it tough to bear on hot, summer days.  But, the heat didn’t arrive until the end of this dreadfully glorious week at the 2008 ATV Nationals.  Let's go back in time just a few short days ago.  When planning operations on Monday, forecasts predicted four straight days of wonderful rain.  Yep...  Thursday through Sunday.  Well, this did not slow down the Merseal family's intent to produce a show capable of setting new track records.  After stocking and prepping the facility for a wet week, the unimaginable happened.  BRSD was broken into and vandalized.  Equipment was stolen as well as product from the concession stand.  Windows were shattered and doors were broken.  This tragedy marks the third major occurrence of its kind in the tracks 18 years in Bonne Terre.  Don't worry, though.  There is a small light at the end of the sand tunnel.  The thief was caught and equipment was returned.  However, the owners were still left with the tab on replacing food and windows; cleaning up the mess and trudging toward the end.

Friday finally arrived and miraculously after a day and a half of rain, it turned out beautiful.  The weather was nice, too!  Seventy-one entries were made into the test & tune allowing some of the best riders on the fastest ATV's on the planet to make hundreds of time trial passes.  The festivities lasted over six hours before locking down for the ride of a lifetime.  Saturday, at high noon, somebody would win the biggest honor since "Overall Track Champion" in the first ever contest of its kind at Big River...  The Top Shop Shoot-out.


Sirens wailed as four psyched shops took the line to begin the battle of all time.  The teams were:  Adrenaline Racing, The Bom Racing, GT Performance and Precision Powersports.  As the contest ran into the qualifying round, it was proven that GT Performance and Precision Powersports would be the two fastest teams.  Each had to select one rider and one bike to face off for the title.  It came down to Clay Ide (GT) and Kevin Betzer, Jr. (Precision).  It was a best 2 of 3 shoot-out.  Each ended up with one victory.  Then, in the final round it was Ide who won the Top Shop trophy for GT Performance of Dearborn, MO.  He not only took the ride of his life victory wise; Clay also had one near catastrophe miss.  He started on the outside of the right lane only to be pulled toward the center rail at the 125 ft. mark.  Ide rode the center and collided with the MPH & E.T. markers.  He was not injured, nor was his record setting rocket.  The previous ATV record for fastest E.T. was a 3.62 second pass from John Conner of Oak Grove, MO.  Well, the first recorded ATV record anyway.  Clay shattered it with a 3.485 pass (backed up).  He also set a MPH record for ATV’s at 95!  So, let's recap -- the track was vandalized (set a record), it rained and rained (not a record, but probably needed none the less), 71 at test & tune (set a record) and a new ATV record for E.T. and MPH.  Isn't that enough?!?  Nah...  BRSD set a record with 162 entries in a single event night.  A combined Pro ATV/Super Pro ATV class had 40+ while Unlimited ATV saw a record participation of 51 entries.  Wrap this up and serve it for 22 hours over two days.  That's how long it took to see this event through to its end.  Imagine how the owners and staff felt.  Many additional hours were worked to ensure a safe track for all competitors and a family friendly atmosphere.  In the end -- as the final race of the annual event took a light at 4:00 a.m. Sunday -- I believe everyone involved realized just what had happened; what had they pulled off?  Overall, one of the greatest ATV events this area has ever experienced.  So now, we can only wonder -- what will happen next... ?


The point season continues with all classes participating in the two day show on Labor Day weekend, August 30th & 31st, sponsored by Cruse Welding.   Races begin at 6pm with gates opening at 2pm and time trials 3pm-5pm.  Admission is $10 per adult; kids 12 and under FREE.  For more information, contact James Merseal at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (573) 225-8360, or visit for the latest results.  Information can also be found in the forums of , and BRSD is on MySpace @ www.myspace/bigriversanddrags .

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