Sunday is payday for Dusty Beer.
On the final day of last years Great American Hillclimb, defending champion Beer earned $4,850 of the $30,000 guaranteed purse.
The Columbus native will be back to defend his championship class title at the 83rd annual event, which is today and Sunday in Billings South Hills. The 37-year-old Beer has captured the championship four times, with his first title coming in 1987. Racing against Canadian, Frenchmen and other Americans, Beer also won the World Cup held in Billings last year in a time of 9.724 seconds. He is currently leading the North American Hillclimbers Association Standings with 46,781 points. Travis Whitlock of Elizabeth, Colo., is second with 46,038 points.
Despite being the defending champion, Beer said competitors like Whitlock, who is a six-time champion at Billings, are aiming to beat the hill, not him.
Were all pretty good friends, said Beer, who is competing in his 19th Great American Hillclimb. Its not like its a rivalry between riders, its more of a rivalry between riders and the hill. People dont shoot for the pre-vious champion. They shoot to beat the hill.
Event promoter Darrell Devitt said Beer will be the man to beat.
Hes the man to beat. Hes the favorite, said Devitt. Hes the defending Great American champion and the defending World Cup Challenge champion.
Beer said the reason himself and others keep coming back to Billings is because of its class.
Its the best organized, best run and biggest and richest event we go to, said Beer. We travel all over the western United States and Billings is still the king.
Beer said one challenging aspect of the storied 390-foot hill is its wall.
The hill is unique compared to all the other ones, said Beer, who when not riding dirt bikes is a miner for the Stillwater Mine. Its got a sheer wall at the top. It approaches close to being vertical, its about 30 feet tall.
Devitt says that if everything goes right with the weather he expects a crowd approaching 15,000 to 20,000 for the two days. Devitt said last year the event attracted nearly 20,000 spectators. Beer said he appreciates the crowd, but puts it all aside when hes attacking the wall.
Its not so much of a deal when youre riding. Some people notice the crowd, but I dont, said Beer. I basically notice the hill and its me and the hill.
Beer said some of his main challengers for the championship will be Whitlock, the Kimball brothers of Utah, Kevin Downs of Molt and Shannon Chamberlain of Billings. Chamberlain won in 1993.
Devitt said others who may contend are Harold Waddell of Nebraska, Jon Smith of Utah and Robie Peterson of California.