Moak, Herring Gas face strong field in 12th MS Gran Prix

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, April 11, 2013

   Frank Moak and his Herring Gas teammates have their work cut out for them in the 12th Annual MS Gran Prix Race Weekend. They expect some tough competition from a variety of riders in the 4-stage bike races.

     Moak, a 52-year-old Brookhaven native, brought the race to the Homeseekers Paradise 12 years ago and it has continued to grow in popularity. Over 220 riders will pursue $10,000 in prize money over a 3-day period, starting with Friday night’s Bank of Brookhaven Downtown Criterium.

     “This is our race and we plan to have  eight guys here, racing for Herring Gas,” said Moak. “Cat I will be formidable.”

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     Cat I, aka Category I, attracts some of the best racers from across the southeast. Fink Finance, a Dallas-based team, is loaded with front runners.

     Matthew Davis of Team LaS’port is the 3-team defending overall champion. His team is based in Shreveport, La.

     Looking back to last year, Moak pointed to his team’s success,. Woody Beaudreaux finished fourth overall and Jordan Lambert was sixth. Moak, a physical marvel for his age, placed 12th overall.

     Moak said an old teammate, an Australian now residing in California, will join the gashouse gang for the weekend activities. Dr. Troy Porter is an astrophisiologist who obtained his doctorate from LSU.

     Also racing for Herring Gas this weekend are  Kenny Bellau, Cory Ray, Andrew Hammond, Tim Regan and Jordan Lambert.

     Great weather is predicted for the weekend. Moak said riders from Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas are expected.

     This weekend’s racing events are presented by the Bike Crossing, a bicycle shop based in Ridgeland.

     The 60-minute, downtown criterium starts Friday at 7 p.m., in front of the Haven Theater on West Cherokee St. Over 40 of the best Cat 1-2-3 racers will make the 1-mile course a 2-wheel version of NASCAR, driven by leg power, with plenty of corners and sprints.

     Race director Richard Barker said the criterium course will make a few changes because of the uneven pavement on West Chickasaw.  “It really is too bumpy,” especially at 40 miles per hour.

     “We are going to start at the Haven and go right toward the Chamber of Commerce, take a right at the corner, then  take a left on (South) Jackson Street and include a little residential.”

     After a right turn on West Chippewa, racers will take another right on South Church and head north to Cherokee for a sprint past First Methodist Church and the U.S. Post Office.

     For sure, it is the best spectator race of the group.

     On Saturday morning, the Alford Lumber Company Road Race returns to West Lincoln School (Attendance Center), starting at 8 a.m. It’s a 3-lap, 82-mile race for Seniors 1-2-3. Masters and Seniors 3-4 will do 2 laps. Women, juniors, senior 4-5 and public will race 1 lap. The finish line is at Ramah Baptist Church, near the Franklin County line.

     Saturday afternoon’s DPLOT Time Trial will be held at Calvary Baptist Church in Bogue Chitto and start at 5 p.m. It’s a straight, 3-mile course.

     On Sunday morning at 7, the Physiotherapy Circuit Race begins at Lake Lincoln State Park. Racing groups will start at different times, starting with the Public and Seniors 4-5 doing one 6.5-mile loop. It concludes with the Senior 1-2-3 at 11:30 a.m., going 5 laps.

Cash prizes instead of checks

     Barker was pleased to note that the weekend prize money is $10,000. The top 15 riders will be eligible for prize money in each category.   

     In an effort to keep the prize money in Lincoln County, the prizes are being paid in cash rather than check. Barker said, “We want them to spend it before they leave town. We hope they will buy food and other items in the community.”

     Barker said he anticipates the best-ever number of entrants. “We are probably the biggest thing going on in the southeast.”

     Loretta Prather is in charge of pre-race registration and race results. Registration is at the Brookhaven/Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce building, located on the corner of South Whitworth and West Chickasaw.

     Registration fee is $75 in advance and $80 on race day.

     Moak said the weather is expected to clear after Thursday’s anticipated thunderstorms. “It’s supposed to be beautiful.”

Loyd Star to honor Delaughter

     Loyd Star’s softball field will officially be named Jan Smith Delaughter Field during a Tuesday ceremony, starting at 7 p.m. Delaughter is a Loyd Star graduate who has coached basketball and softball at her alma mater, winning state championships in both sports.

     The public is invited to attend the ceremony.

  Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email: