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By Terri Stevens
Photos by J and J Racing

STQRA Invades Highlands for Round 4 and 5

Ryan Anderson (414) leads points in the Sport Quad Series.
Ryan Anderson (414) leads points in the Sport Quad Series

The South Texas Quad Racing Association invaded Highlands Motocross Park in Highlands, Texas for rounds 4 and 5 of the Southern Challenge Series. Racers pounded the short, supercross style Night Track May 6-7 for Round 4, then the longer motocross style Day Track June 3-4 for Round 5.

The tracks were favored by many local quad and dirt bike riders before shut down in 2005, and the STQRA held the first races at Highlands since it recently reopened under the new ownership of Keith Coble. Coble, who also owns Highlands Tractor and Kawasaki, had originally built Highlands Motocross more than a decade ago and now is back as its newest owner, ready to make it better than ever.

Both events were successful, although thunderstorms with hale and tornado warnings threatened Round 4 and rain the week before Round 5 had riders concerned. Yet, officials worked wonders getting each track in great shape for racing.

Before race day always comes the STQRA family fun, planned and organized through the online forum, and Rounds 4 and 5 were certainly full of both. In Round 4 Team Fury returned as head chefs for a giant fish fry and in Round 5 Fred Castillo, father of Open B rider Marco Castillo, cooked Black Angus fajita meat for all. Others helped add to each meal and everyone was invited to eat.

Each round also saw a few birthdays celebrated at the track, with everyone invited to share in the festivities. On May 6 during Round 4 Womens class points leader Kara Corn turned 21. Josh Juneau, second in the Sport Quad Class, turned 15 the same day, and Zaine Melder, third in the Mini class, turned nine. Zaines mother, Belinda, made birthday cakes to resemble each of their quads, and a large group celebrated with balloons and silly string. A couple of birthdays _ Pee Wee points leader Nicholas Webster and Mini class points leader Sara Trevino _ were also celebrated with cake and silly string at the track during Round 5.

Sara Trevino (61) makes her move in the Mini class on her new pink Honda TRX90 sponsored by K&D Motosports.
Sara Trevino (61) makes her move in the Mini class on her new pink Honda TRX90 sponsored by K&D Motosports

Sara, who turned 11, really had reason to celebrate when Kelly Neely of K & D Motosports surprised her with a new, pink Honda TRX 90 and became her sponsor. She certainly represented K & D well, running way out front and taking both moto wins in the Round 5 Mini class on her new #61. Nathan Clague (211) and Kyla Mercado (4) battled for second, and Clague took it with a 3-2. Mercado finished third with 2-3, followed by Lat Nichols (7) in fourth with 7-4. Siblings Brooke (10) and Justin (43) Smith battled for fifth, with Brooke getting a 6-5 and Justin a 5-6. Justin led the holeshot in Moto 1.

Nathan had taken both moto wins in Round 4s Mini class, followed by Briana Helms (05), another Round 5 birthday girl, in second. Kyla Mercado took third overall in Round 4, Zaine Melder (55) finished fourth with 6-4 and Lat Nichols (7) got fifth.

In STQRAs top class, John Buller (18) took the overall win in Round 4 with Robert Salinas (738) right behind him both motos. Buller currently holds first in points in this Pro-Am class and Salinas second. The action changed in Round 5, however, as the first moto began with a tight pack coming out of the holeshot, led by Robert Hanson (94). Hanson won the Open B class in 2005, moved to Open A in 2006 and leads the class with three wins. This was his first race in STQRAs Pro-AM, and he was flying! Salinas was right with him, but R.J. Slayton (15) quickly passed for second.

R.J. Slayton (15) took the overall win in the Round 5 Pro-Am and Over 30 class
R.J. Slayton (15) took the overall win in the Round 5 Pro-Am and Over 30 class

Slayton, racing for the first time this season with the STQRA, has taken four overall wins in the Veteran 30+ class of the ATVA ITP Moose National Motocross Series, and is currently second in points. He was all over Hanson from start to finish, with the two racing wheel to wheel at times, several seconds ahead of the rest of the pack. Hanson held him off and took the checkered flag, but Slayton took the win in Moto 2, giving him first overall in Round 5. Hanson took second with a 1-2, followed by Buller in third, Salinas in fourth and Justin Lawson (8) in fifth.

Slayton also raced in Round 5s Over 30 A class, taking both moto wins. Salinas led early in the first moto and finished both in second. Doug Cucco (09) took third and Ramiro Medina (08), the class points leader, finished fourth. Rick Peacock (39) got fifth with 4-5 finishes in Round 5. Salinas won the class in Round 4, followed by Cucco in second with a 3-2, Peacock with a 2-3, and Medina in fourth.

Hanson ran undefeated in Rounds 4 and 5 of the Open A class. In Round 4, Megan Manshack (58) finished second with a 2-3, followed by Chris Newland (777) in third with a 6-2. Travis Morrison (13) finished fourth and Anthony Trevino (36) got fifth with a 3-6. Mixing it up, Newland took second in Round 5 with 3-2 and Manshack, currently second in points, finished third with a 2-3. Joe Messina (15) finished in fourth and Lawson, who also ran Pro-Am, took fifth.

Ryan Callhan (124) takes the Open B overall win in Round 5
Ryan Callhan (124) takes the Open B overall win in Round 5

While Ryan Callahan (124) took the overall wins in both rounds of the Open B class, they did not come easily, and these were some of the most exciting races to watch. In each moto, both rounds, a tight pack of riders flew out of the gate, positions changing rapidly. In Round 4 Bobby Belyeu (47) took second with 3-2 finishes, followed by Josh Bateman (7) in third with 4-3. Marco Castillo (53) finished in fourth and Shawn Lane (02) took fifth with 2-7. Although Callahan had a 1-1 win in Round 4, Kyle Underwood (89) won the second moto in Round 5 and finished second overall with a 3-1. Bateman battled Callahan to the finish both motos in Round 5, getting third overall with a 2-3. Castillo took fourth overall and James Peacock (199) got fifth with a 6-5.

The Open C beginners are another hair-raising group of riders. Taking the overall win in Round 4 was Chris Newingham (46) with a 2-1. Jason Bryant (121) finished second with 1-4, followed by Jason Murff (3) in third with 4-3. Paul Gray (105) took fourth with 3-5 and James Lozano (741) got fifth with a 6-7.

After gaining a big lead each moto, Skyler Jankowiak (55) took the checkered flags in Round 5s Open C, although Chris Thomas (5) led early in the first one. A battle for second raced through each moto, with Bryants 2-3 finishes giving him second overall. Gray finished third with 6-2, Lozano took fourth and Thomas got fifth with a 3-5.

In the Over 30 B class, Mike Shinn (13) took a 1-1 win in Round 4, with Gary Whites (040) 3-2 finishes getting second overall. Chuck Clague (466) finished third with a 2-4 and Robert Smith (43) took fourth. Smith won Moto 1 in Round 5 and was leading Moto 2, but cased a double before the finish and was out of the race. Ronnie Jones took first overall with a 2-1, with White again taking second overall.

Women's point leader Kara Corn (454) crashes in Round 4, but is back in Round 5 to take the win
Women's point leader Kara Corn (454) crashes in Round 4, but is back in Round 5 to take the win

In the Women's class, series points leader Kara Corn (454) won Moto 1 in Round 4, but crashed in Moto 2 and was unable to finish the race. Debra Mercado (911) took the overall win with a 2-1, followed by Brittney Keene (13) in second with 5-3. Courtney Leax (111) got third with her 7-2, Kayla Melder (21) took fourth with 4-5 and Leslie Smith (43) placed fifth with a 3-6. Corn came back to take the overall win in Round 5 with a 1-2, although Brandi West (89) sure put the heat on. West won the second moto, finishing second overall with a 3-1. Smith took third with 4-3, Leax got fourth with a 2-6, and Angela Bryant (121) completed the top five overall with a 6-4.

STQRAs 2005 youth champion, Ryan Anderson (414), lost his first round this series in the Sport Quad class when mechanical problems kept him from starting the second moto of Round 4. Anderson won the first moto, but blew his Blaster motor running in the Open B class. Kyle Bushen (390) took the overall win with a 2-1 and Josh Juneau (56) finished second with 3-2. Alex Kohl (357) took third overall, followed by Jesse Velasquez with a 5-4. Anderson was back in Round 5 with a 1-1 win. Kohl took second overall with a 3-3 and Juneau finished third with his 2-4. Having mechanical problems, Bushen finished fourth in Round 5 with a 5-2, and Velasquez got fifth overall with a 4-5.

Tyler Webster (104) remains undefeated in the Youth Class
Tyler Webster (104) remains undefeated in the Youth Class

With 1-1 wins in both rounds, Tyler Webster (104) remains undefeated in the Youth class this season. Hart Walker (14) finished second in Round 4, followed by Chance Smith (99) in third and Joshua Bushen (892) in fourth. In Round 5, Garrett Baker (11) took second overall, with Walker taking third and Smith in fourth.

Blayne Neely (16) rode hard as he took the overall win in Round 5 of the Super Mini class with a 2-1. Grady Antich (00) finished second with a 1-2. Those good friends routinely offer an excellent show of racing as they battle it out on the track. Nathan Clague (311), also a strong rider, came in third and Hart Walker, racing his #10 Super Mini quad out front at times, finished fourth after mechanical problems caused him to drop back. Antich had a 1-1 win in Round 4, Walker finished second with a 3-2, and Neely got third with a 2-3.

Although Hunter Gengo (9) currently leads points in the Super Pee Wee class, Ty Cruse (11) took a 1-1 win in the last two rounds. Gengo finished second, followed by Kentleigh Nichols (10) in third and Tre Keene (3) in fourth.

Cruse, Gengo and Keene also race the Pee Wee class, which is allowed if their quads are legal in each. In this class, Nicholas Webster took a 1-1 win both rounds. Cruse finished second in Round 4, followed by Gengo in third, Camden Nichols (13) in fourth and Keene in fifth. In Round 5, Gengo took second, Nichols took third, Keene took fourth and Brendon Roberts (1) finished fifth.

A balloon toss cools off riders between motos.
A balloon toss cools off riders between motos

To uphold its young riders, the STQRA initiated a program in Round 4 that paired them with older riders for team mentoring and trackside fun. Their first activity came between motos in Round 5. From toddlers to seniors, everyone screamed with laughter during the team water balloon toss, an excellent idea for the near 100 degree weather! No doubt, well be hearing more about this interesting new program.

STQRAs Round 6 is scheduled for June 25th at the San Jacinto Cycle Park in Splendora, TX. Membership is not required to race or participate in the weekend of fun, and new riders are always welcomed as old friends in the Southern Challenge Series.

To learn more about the series, visit the website at

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