A battle for and of the Ages

January 22, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

PLASTER CITY — It was a battle for and of the ages.

Cagey 36-year-old veteran Dewey Belew blistered his Honda XR 650 over the whoops and hard pack of the Plaster City staging area with 16-year-old Andrew "A.J." Hoffman hot on his exhaust pipe.

The two Imperial residents are separated by 20 years of motocross experience but they were seconds apart after two laps of Sunday's Barking Spider of the Desert race.

During those two laps they swapped the lead and far outpaced the competition.

At one point they were more than six minutes ahead of the third-place racer.

Belew would hold off the hard-charging teen to take the checkered flag, but A.J. served notice he'll be a force to reckon with in the future.


The sponsor of the Barking Spider, Otis "Fud" Fudpucker, called A.J.'s performance "an impressive open class debut."

Sunday's race was A.J.'s first open class event and first race on a new 520cc KTM bike. Previously, the teen raced 250cc bikes. Open class racing is for 251cc motors and up.

A.J.'s father, Doug, said his boy was slightly ahead at the start of the third lap. Near the first check of lap three Hoffman's rear end got out from under him. The front wheel of the KTM 520cc kicked up, sending A.J. flying off the back.

"He had to let go so the bike didn't come down on top of him," his dad said.

A.J. banged up his shoulder and sprained his wrists but the elder Hoffman said, "His ego was hurt the worst."

Since A.J. and Belew were so far ahead of the third-place rider, Belew stopped to make sure his young foil was OK.

"I almost ran over him," Belew said.

After making sure the teen would live, Belew tore away to win the Barking Spider.

Belew's time for the 80-mile race was slightly more than 80 minutes. The average speed works out to around 60 mph but his big 650 was pushing 100-110 mph on the straightaways.

"I don't want to go any faster than that. I'm getting too old," Belew said.

A.J.'s dad said the Threat Racing-sponsored 520cc KTM was hitting close to 100 mph on the flat-out sections of the 20-mile course but each time it took on the 650 straight up, the big Honda would pull away.

Hoffman said, "We only had (the KTM) for a couple days before the race. (A.J.) only had two hours of riding time on it before we raced it."

The Hoffmans hope to get the bike dialed in before the King of the Desert race in mid-February, when the Hoffmans are expecting to take on Imperial's Aaron Tuck, a top rider. Tuck spent the weekend in Tecate riding for Team Honda.

Bill Fox, 44, of Blythe followed Belew into the winner's circle. He took second overall on a 250cc Kawasaki.

Taking third was 14-year-old Cory Brewer of Alpine. He also rode a Kawasaki 250.

Fudpucker was impressed the old bucks, Belew and Fox, held off the youngsters.

"Dewey is one of those people, it doesn't affect him. He's like wine I think; he gets better with age," Fudpucker said.

Belew said, "My bike didn't start right away I had to catch everybody. A.J. was the last one."

The aircraft mechanic for the Border Patrol said, "You learn, you know, from your years of experience. A.J. has a ways to go but he don't mess around."

In the superlite class P.J. Armstrong of Imperial was smoking everyone, according to Fudpucker.

"He was way out front," he added.

Unfortunately for Armstrong, the transmission belt blew on his Drakart Superlite and he had to settle for third place.

Tom Godfret, 27, of Houston won and Eric Cowen, Godfret's buddy, took second place.

Fudpucker said the two had been hanging around the Holtville area since New Year's Day in Glamis.

"Not only did they hang around and race, they beat everybody," Fudpucker said.

Both Godfret and Cowen race Honda Pilots.

In the mini-bike races a pair of local youngsters acquitted themselves admirably.

Michael Duran, 7, of El Centro took first in the 50cc novice class and 10-year-old Thomas Gray of Brawley won in the 60cc class.

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

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles