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Tuck concludes season with stellar performance at event

January 03, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

PLASTER CITY — When Imperial's Aaron Tuck soared over the finish line to win the 2001 Dunaway Dash, the 20-year-old motocrosser capped the "most dominant year I've ever seen," according to San Diego race promoter Otis "Fud" Fudpucker.

In 2001, Tuck entered 12 Fudpucker-staged races in the hard-riding desert surrounding the Imperial Valley. Tuck won 11 of those races.

"His worst finish was a second," Fudpucker said.

At the 12th race, the 15th annual Dunaway Dash on New Year's Eve near the Plaster City staging area, no racer came close to catching Tuck.


The second-place rider in the big-time open class, Bill McNeer of Imperial, finished a lap back.

Racers in the open class ride bikes with 251 cc motors or bigger.

Tuck rides a XR-650 Honda.

A "big ol' Honda," Fudpucker said.

Tuck had to ride that Honda over a 164-mile long course; six laps around a 27.3 mile-long loop.

Tuck said the course was tough and dusty — "a silt bowl."

Fudpucker designed it to be "one of the toughest in a long, long time."

In addition to the motocrossers, all sorts of desert speedsters tore through the dash course on New Year's Eve, including Class 8 truck drivers, burners in unlimited Class 1 buggies and Desert Superlite racers.

While Tuck and the rest of the motocrossers took off in the morning before all the other racers, he said the pre-running of the previous two days had ripped up the course.

When Tuck caught up to the slower motocrossers and ATV racers, he had to deal with billowing clouds of stinging dust and missle-fast rocks whizzing past.

Since he passed all of the other racers at least once, "It was extremely dusty," he said.

Tuck gives a lot of the credit for his recent win and his extraordinary year to the sponsorship of Bob Bell's Precision Concepts.

Bell, a San Diego race fan and the owner of suspension outfitter Precision Concepts, knew of Tuck from his past success at "Fud" races.

Tuck raced 125 cc bikes as a younger guy and then raced one season on a 250 cc bike.

When the Tuck family approached Bell after Tuck "needed someone to do my suspension, (Bell) said, ‘I'll give ya a deal.'" Tuck remembered.

That "deal" turned out to be the tricked-out XR-650 that Tuck rode last year.

Fudpucker was impressed with how the compact Tuck handled the big bike.

"He has to stand up twice to make a shadow," Fudpucker cracked.

Tuck is impressed with the "big and heavy" bike's raw power.

"Aw, man, it's capable of so much; 100-mph plus. It's got all the power you need; just twist the throttle and go," he said.

Asked if his bike gives him an unfair advantage over the other racers, Tuck said his motorcycle is practically identical to the bike McNeer rides.

"It doesn't have anything that no one else can't get," he added.

After Tuck and the rest of the motocrossers had finished, the course was turned over to the big-guys; the trucks and buggies.

Chuck Hovey of Escondido turned in the fastest time of any racer at the dash and locked up Fud's season championship in his unlimited Class 1 buggy.

To win the race and the championship, Hovey beat the brother of a racer who had bested him in previous races, Mark McMillin of San Diego. McMillin is the brother of fellow Class 1 racer Scott McMillin.

Larry McCallum of El Centro took third in Class 1. Fudpucker said a tire change held back the local.

For McCallum, finishing wasn't as important as getting his son, Shawn, some racing time.

Fudpucker said the younger McCallum raced the last few laps after the tire was changed.

In the Class 8 truck division, Fudpucker said two locals put on a great show for the thousands of fans who crowded into the pit area or lined the race course.

In a battle that almost went down to the wire, Jeff Dickerson of Brawley beat Heber's Matt Scaroni.

Dickerson, the driver of a bright orange Ford, held off the Scaroni family's hard-charging Ford after it blew a tire.

Pat Barbie of Holtville finished third in his own Ford to make it a clean Class 8 sweep for Ford Racing and Imperial Valley drivers.

Another local who had a big day was Steve Mamer of Brawley.

In his Class 10 buggy, Mamer "kicked the butt" of two San Diego drivers, according to Fudpucker.

A class 10 buggy has unlimited suspension but a limited motor size. Fudpucker and his crew check the buggies before they start to make sure everything is legit.

In the Desert Superlite class, the Tuckers of Imperial finished 1-2. How they finished is a good story, according to Fudpucker.

"Dad (James Tucker) put gas in his car and didn't put any in his son's car," he said, laughing.

Tucker, an Imperial city councilman and the father of a member of his racing competition, 9-year-old Quentin Tucker, said he "thought it would make it."

After Quentin had finished most of the first lap, the youngster's ride putted to a stop five miles before the finish line.

The elder Tucker hooked up his boy's Superlite to a tow rope and dragged him toward the line.

Since Tucker wasn't allowed to tow a racer over the line, he got out and pushed his boy across.

Fudpucker and everyone else standing around the finish line got a kick out of that.

After Quentin filled up his Superlite, he finished the race second to his dad, beating some adults in the process.

The proud father noted, "(Quentin) was named the 2001 rookie of the year."

The next "Fud" race, the "King of the Desert," will be Feb. 16 in the staging area near Superstition Mountain.

The "King" is 150 miles long; five laps around a 30-mile course.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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