For The Tribune

Winning a championship on a national level is no easy feat to accomplish.

One must overcome multiple challenges and obstacles along the way to reach the coveted title.

Trees, rocks, sand, water, mud, and fierce competition were among the obstacles Seymour resident Lucas Wehmiller faced.

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All season, Wehmiller competed for his first Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) title in his Polaris 1000XP side-by-side off road buggy.

Competing in a grueling six event schedule across as many states, Wehmiller consistently overcame the rugged terrain and strong competition.

His efforts ultimately led to a championship title in the XC3 Pro-Am UTV division, which serves as a stepping stone to the pro level.

“Basically the reason I wanted to compete with GNCC is because it’s at the national level and the exposure at this level helps get your name out there and pick up sponsors,” said

Wehmiller plans to move up to XC1 Pro level competition next season because of the level competition.

“The best of the best run XC1,” Wehmiller said.

GNCC, formed in 1975, is America’s premier off-road racing series which sanctions classes of competition in bikes, ATV’s and UTV’s for nearly all skill levels.

GNCC tracks typically are about five miles in length and competition lasts for one hour.

Wehmiller’s season started in Palatka, Florida, at Wild Boar in March.

“The terrain we raced on in Florida was very sandy and had a lot of whoop sections in it; it was pretty rough,” Wehmiller said, referring to sections of the course that serve as a series of moguls that racers attempt to skip across.

“Eighty-eight buggies started, and I think 17 finished the entire race.”

Wehmiller finished fifth in his class.

The schedule then took Wehmiller to South Carolina in April, where he scored another fifth-place finish.

The first taste of victory for Wehmiller came in Round 3 as he picked up the win at John Penton in Millfield, Ohio.

A pair of sixth-place finishes rounded at the season which concluded with the Ironman event in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

On off weekends for the GNCC series, Wehmiller frequented local IXCR events which are conducted primarily in Indiana.

“These events serve as good seat time to stay fresh for national events because they are very competitive,” said Wehmiller.

The hours spent traveling up and down the road were not spent alone, as Wehmiller had company in the form of his friends, family, and wife Kara.

GNCC completion requires a passenger to ride along with the driver in all events.

“You have to have a co-pilot at all events, and Kara always rides with me at all of the GNCC events,” Wehmiller said.

Wehmiller and his team travel to West Virginia this weekend to formally accept his title as a GNCC National Champion at the year-end banquet.

The celebration will be short-lived, as he plans preparations for the 2017 season.

Wehmiller already eyes another successful season, as he moves up to XC1 Pro level competition.

More information about GNCC events can be found on the series website at www.gnccracing.com.