Riders ready for annual challenge of 'Bentonite Nightmare'

2014-07-23T21:00:00Z 2014-07-23T21:49:04Z Riders ready for annual challenge of 'Bentonite Nightmare' The Billings Gazette

It’s all about cresting the 457-foot “Bentonite Nightmare” this weekend in Billings’ South Hills.

The 96th annual Miller Lite Great American Championship Pro Hill Climb begins Friday at the Billings Motorcycle Club.

Motorcycle riders will also be chasing defending champion Austin Teyler of Billings. Last year, Teyler, then 17, became the youngest competitor to win the overall championship.

“I was really impressed with the way he rode last year,” longtime Billings promoter Darrell Devitt said. “He is riding well this year. He’s had a few crashes, but all the youngsters have to crash a few times before they realize their limitations.”

Professional riders will begin tackling the bentonite, shale, gumbo and rock hill at 5 p.m. Friday and continue through Sunday. Overall, 371 riders are entered.

Devitt said the guaranteed purse is $45,000. The hill climb is part of the three-race Rockwell Professional Hill Climb Series. When the series concludes with the Night Time Pro Hill Climb Aug. 29-31 at the BMC, Devitt said an additional $20,000 in bonus money will be paid.

Devitt said it’s no secret why riders keep returning to Billings to sweat out the July heat.

“As far as the riders, they know Billings is a challenge and they like the guaranteed purse,” he said. “They all know what they are riding for. Our money has always been guaranteed and it is the best-run hill climb.”

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