There was definitely a different feel in the air and on the water for the 2019 Pro Watercross National Championships. For more than a decade, this season-ending, tour-capping event has taken place in Charleston, WV – home of Hidden Trails Motorsports and the Frame family. This year, however, Pro Watercross head honcho AJ Handler shook things up, announcing in the Spring that the National Championships would be moving to a new venue. Originally, Bryan College Station, Texas, was announced as the new home of the Pro Watercross National Championships, but unspecified complications led to a last minute change, and on July 19, Pro Watercross announced that the Aug. 10-11 National Championship would be held in Lake Charles, LA.
“Lake Charles hosted the Pro Watercross group in 2013, and we feel honored to have been given this opportunity to further our relationship with the event for the next three years. The community enthusiastically supports sporting events in Southwest Louisiana, and we appreciate our relationship with the City of Lake Charles and the hospitality community in Calcasieu Parish,” said Eric Zartler, sales director at the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The community is ready to cheer on the competitors during the 2019 National Championships.”
The community helped usher in a successful shift of the annual season-closing race weekend. Handler and the Pro Watercross staff definitely pulled all the right strings, and put in the work (probably more than many of us, as non-promoters, realize) to pull off the last-minute venue change after Bryan College Station officials informed Pro Watercross that they would have to cancel the races already scheduled and on the books for early August. Within 72 hours of Bryan College Station’s cancellation of the races there, Handler had secured a three-year contract with Lake Charles, beginning with the 2019 Championship in less than three weeks.
The temperatures at Lake Charles over the National Championship weekend soared, with the heat index reaching into the 100s, but that heat was a fair match for the scorching hot racing taking place on the track. “Tour points are close in several classes as we head into the National Championships,” Pro Watercross announced the week prior to the Lake Charles races. And from the intensity of the racers behind the band in moto after moto, from Pro-Am to juniors and every class in between, it was clear that these athletes came here not to race, but to win.
“A contingent of hot young riders kept the heat on; Revin Harris led the pack with some brilliant rides as did Devin Farthing and, of course, the dynamic duo of Hayden and Taylor Skellet,” Pro Watercross race announcer Kurt Knollenberg told The Watercraft Journal Friday. “Matthew Richuck showed he is ready to mix it up with the best in the world as he proved in Ski-GP battling the Motzuris brothers on a borrowed ski; just imagine if he had his own!”
“Runabouts provided some excellent racing with Troy Snyder and Brian Baldwin getting pushed further than ever before by D-Mack and Graham Hunt, Charlie Smith and Gentleman Jim Bennett,” Knollenberg continued. “Newcomer to Pro Watercross this year, Tory Snyder showed the rest of the field what they will have to deal with in Naples, Florida at the World Championships this October. No review of this year’s championships would be complete without including the wonderful stories of Cole Tumey and his fight to live while searching for a kidney donor and the help the Pro Watercross family provided to get Cole to his first race!
“Thanks to Jim Bennett and everyone who assisted, Cole was beyond stoked and we hope to raise awareness and funds for him at Naples. Another great story was Cheyenne Parler a wonderful girl born with autism who found that she loves Pro Watercross racers, especially the kids and she is the #1 fan of Valentina Lezcano! Valentina had the crowd tearing up at the awards ceremony when she had Cheyenne accept her awards and repeat her acceptance speech on the podium. Needless to say, it was one of Cheyenne’s best days ever. The intense racing action and the outpouring of love for two new members of the Pro Watercross family made this my favorite National Championships so far, can’t wait to see everyone in Naples for what promises to be a truly incredible end to 2019.”
“Watercross National Pro National Champion titles (in Pro-Am Ski Stock, Pro-AM Runabout GP, Pro-Am Ski GP, Pro Freestyle and Pro-Am Runabout Box Stock) are based on tour points from the five rounds, plus the National Championship races,” explained Jennifer Handler. “For the amateurs, the Pro Watercross National Championship is a stand-alone event, with the title based on the results of the Lake Charles races only. However, for those amateurs who are able to follow the tour, they are also able to win a national tour points championship.”