Hailing from Irwin, Pa., and tearing up courses all over the Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) circuit, Chris Bithell has quickly earned a reputation as one of the most impressive young pros in ATV racing. His extraordinary, come-from-behind, victory this spring at the Yadkin Valley Stomp illustrated Bithell at his best, he never gives up no matter the circumstance. Over the course of the two-hour GNCC race, Bithell consistently finds himself in a position to win the race or, at least, find his way onto the podium.
Not many can catch or pass Chris Bithell on his Can-Am ATV, but we were fortunate enough to keep pace with the number 13 rider long enough for him to dish on everything from his career and equipment, to his fans and free time.
So where did it all begin? What got you interested in ATV racing?
CB: Well it started in the back yard on old school 50cc dirt bikes, and racing evolved from there.
Do you remember the moment you decided to turn pro?
CB: I decided to turn pro when I placed 2nd overall at the Ironman GNCC in 2005. At the time I was 16 years old and a junior in high school.
What is your favorite place to ride both on the circuit and off?
CB: My favorite GNCC track is St. Clairsville, Ohio. Off the track I love to ride at Croom Riding Park in Brookville, Fla., and my back yard track in Scotthaven, Pa.
On the track, what’s more important, being fast or being in control?
CB: I feel that you can’t have one without the other. They are both important.
What’s more fun, the jumps or the mud?
How important is it for you to have confidence in your equipment, especially your Can-Am ATV?
CB: I feel that I need to have complete confidence in my equipment. I not only need to trust my Can-Am to withstand a race and finish strong, but I also need it to do so safely. My DS 450 does just that.
What are some the features of Can-Am ATV’s that set them apart from the competition?
CB: The Can-Am ATVs are race ready out of the box, they are able to compete at any level from the kids on DS 90s to the front of Pro Row. They also have superior handling and BRP is behind their racers like no other in the industry.
To this point in your career, what would you say has been your proudest moment?
CB: My proudest moment was most definitely this year at Yadkinville. I came from dead last to win the overall and my younger brother, Jamie, won the College A class. It was an awesome thing for both of us to win!
What is the scariest moment you’ve had in a race?
CB: Thankfully, I have been fortunate and not had any bad accidents myself. But, if I see a wreck happen or an injured rider, I always stop and offer my help.
You have built up quite a fan base. How much inspiration do you draw from your fans, and how do they help push you to succeed?
CB: I love seeing the fans on the track, cheering for me and waving their Bithell Fan towels. It really drives me for a great finish!
Are there any tips you could offer to novices to help them be a better rider?
CB: Ride hard and practice, practice, practice!
What is one aspect of professional racing that most people would be surprised to know?
CB: It’s not an easy ride. You don’t just sign a contract and they hand you the world. It’s a lot of late nights in the shop, phones calls, email, testing and hard work.
Do you ride in your free time, or do you pursue other passions? If so, what are some of them?
CB: I ride on a regular basis and race almost every weekend, whether it be a GNCC or a local event. I also love to hunt; I bow hunt, rifle and muzzleloader. I also enjoy spending time at the lake with my friends.
What is your ultimate career goal?
CB: My ultimate goal is to put the number one plate on my Can-Am DS 450!
With such an impressive career to date, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Chris achieve his goal and win that number one plate. Be sure to follow Chris and his fellow Can-Am ATV riders, as GNCC racing season continues this fall.
At the recent Unadilla GNCC in upstate New York, Bithell narrowly missed a podium spot, finishing fourth overall. He currently sits fifth in the XC1 Pro-class championship.