Tag Archive: Checkered Flag 500

  1. Historic New Castle Colonial BBQ Competition New Castle, DE

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    by Ryan Davis of Sauce This BBQ

    The 3rd annual New Castle Colonial BBQ Competition was hosted June 8th and 9th in historic downtown New Castle, Delaware. Set on the Delaware River, in the beautiful New Castle Battery Park, the event was held in conjunction with the town’s annual “Separation Day” festival. The celebration, which takes place in the “First State’s” first official capital, recognizes Delaware’s declaration of independence from Pennsylvania on June 15th, 1776.

    As has been the case the previous two years, we had fantastic weather on Friday and most of the day Saturday. Big crowds filled the park and the streets for the two-day event while enjoying live music, craft beer, food trucks, rides, and even a petting zoo. Forty-two professional teams competed as well as several backyard teams and a big congratulations goes to all of those who heard their names called.

    A huge congratulations goes to Sauced! BBQ Team, who received four top-ten’s and took home RGC.

    The biggest congratulations goes to Checkered Flag 500 BBQ for earning three top-ten calls and walking away with GC. Great job Mark and Sharon!

    The New Castle Colonial BBQ Competition has become a favorite for competitors since its inception three years ago and a big thank you goes to Sandy Fulton and her family for once again organizing a great event. A thank you also goes out to all the volunteers, New Castle residents, sponsors, and teams who helped make the event possible.

    See full KCBS results here.

  2. MABA Annual Meeting a Huge Success

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    As is tradition, the annual meeting starts with the “MABA Good Luck Shot!”

    On March 11 in Frederick, MD, the Mid-Atlantic Barbecue Association had its annual meeting of the membership.  Despite chilly temperatures outside, the conditions inside were top notch!  The Frederick Moose Lodge was the site and it fit MABA’s marquee event perfectly.  A robust buffet line of good eats was served along with offerings from a full bar and full menu for ordering from our hosts.

    MABA President Luke Darnell got the program kicked off right on time at 1:00pm and highlighted the associations challenges and success in 2016.  The next order of business had MABA Secretary Brian Walrath announce the newly elected board members who will serve two year terms.  Congratulations to Megan Ferguson, Chris Hall, Mark Kenney, Mark Gibbs, and Amy Overbey.  Thank you to all nine candidates that ran.  The election results were very tight and MABA members set a new high water mark with over 50% of the membership voting.

    New MABA Board of Directors, Chris Hall, Megan Ferguson, Mark Kenney, Amy Overbey, and Mark Gibbs

    The next item on the agenda was the Team of the Year awards for each of the four meats and overall.  Congratulations to the four meat winners and overall winner:

    Chicken – 3 Eyz BBQ
    Ribs – 3 Eyz BBQ
    Pork – Checkered Flag 500
    Brisket – Wolf’s Revenge

    Overall – 3 Eyz BBQ

    Congratulations to Tracy, Dan, and Rick for winning 2016 Team of the Year.

    The entire MABA Team of the Year results can be seen here.

    The meeting ended with funnest part of the day and that’s the raffles for the contributed prizes, 29 contest entries, and three awesome cookers!

    In all this was another amazing event, perhaps the best yet according to much of the early feedback.  Thanks to everyone who participated and good luck to everyone in 2017!




  3. 12th Annual Recovery Fest/7th Annual BBQ State Championship Richmond, VA

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    by Mark Gibbs, Pitmaster of The Checkered Flag 500 BBQ

    The McShin Foundation held its 7th annual KCBS sanctioned BBQ competition the weekend of September 9th and 10th.  25 teams came together in the 95 plus degree heat to compete and support the McShin Foundation in this annual BBQ battle.

    The folks at the foundation put on a great contest with full amenities.  The music, fellowship, cause and location of this contest make it a “must do” for many competitors.  Despite the hot temps, all 25 teams got their entries in to the judges on time to make this contest a Jack and Royal qualifier.  Honesty Liller, CEO of McShin did a great job of presenting the awards and taking care of the competitors.  They really do make us a part of the family at this contest.

    The results are in and I am happy to say that the Checkered Flag 500 BBQ Team repeated as Grand Champion this year successfully defending our title from 2015.  Old Virginia Smoke of Bristow, Virginia with Luke and Kim Darnell and Leigh Anne Terry brought home the Reserve Grand Champion honors.

    The Checkered Flag 500 team brought home top honors in Chicken and Brisket.  Don and Sandy Wallace of Life is Good, but BBQ is Better from Purcellville, Virginia took home their first ever 1st Place Rib finish!  Great job Don and Sandy!  Top Pork honors went to J.D.’s Smokin Misfits of Virginia!

    Picture of Mark and Sandy Gibbs wit the trophies
    Mark and Sharon Gibbs win GC!

    The Checkered Flag 500 Team also qualified for the OBR/BBQ for a Cause Virginia Champions championship at the 2017 contest in Urbanna, Virginia.

    Congrats to every team that got a call and we are really looking forward to the 2017 event at McShin in Richmond!

    First place winners:
    Chicken – Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
    Ribs –Life is Good But BBQ is Better
    Pork –JD’s Smokin Misfits
    Brisket –Checkered Flag 500 BBQ

    Grand Champion –Checkered Flag 500 BBQ
    Reserve Grand Champion –Old Virginia Smoke

    Check out the full competition results here.

  4. Tip From the Pros by Mark Gibbs

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    by Mark Gibbs, Pitmaster of The Checkered Flag 500 BBQ

    Mug Shot Mark Gibbs
    Pitmaster Mark Gibbs

    The Checkered Flag 500 BBQ has hit a nice stride this year.  People have asked, “What has changed?”   When are you going to have a class (self-serving plug my first class is September 2nd and 3rd and there are still spaces available!)  But seriously, much of the success can be attributed to finding consistency from week-to-week and producing as close to the same product as possible as a result of simple, repeatable, proven processes.  There is an old saying, “the cream always rises to the top”.  I have heard that for years in both business and in sports.  I really saw that saying in action in the BBQ world here in the Mid-Atlantic region.  How is it that the same teams can always be found at the top of the results list week after week?  3 Eyz BBQ, winners of many contests and numerous MABA ToY honors are always right there every week.  4:20Q, Aporkalypse Now, Old Virginia Smoke, Lo & Slo and too many others to name are always right there even if they have taken a few weeks off.  I wondered what they did to always produce winning results and here are my thoughts and observations that I have put in place in my own competition BBQ program.

    1. Repetition of a GOOD process results in consistency.  When you find a process that works with a meat category, write it down!  Put it in a spreadsheet and commit that process to memory.  Successful teams did not start out cooking all 4 meats great.  Most conquered one meat and repeated the process of finding that success with the other categories.
    2. Remember to do all of the “little things” consistently. Little things might be as simple as setting up your work area at the same time at each comp, loading your pit with fuel at the same time or lighting your pit at the same time.  I noticed that successful pit masters could be in the midst of a conversation with me and just say out of the blue, “gotta run….I have to do something back at my site.”  I realized I could set a clock to some of these guys doing the little steps each week.  I try to do all of those things I mentioned above and more at the same time each week.  That includes something as simple as tearing aluminum foil for everything on Friday after I trim meats.  Consistent prep practices are your friend!
    3. Have you ever asked a top competition BBQ team how they did before awards and they respond with, “well, we hit all of our marks, so we will see”? Those guys just told you that they did everything according to a preset timeline that they repeat on a weekly basis.  When a team can do that with a proven process, they will be successful more often than not.  For me, hitting my marks is not like KCBS turn-in times.  There is no five minutes before the mark and five minutes after that mark.  If 3am is the time to put meat on the pit, that is my mark and I shoot for it every time.  As a solo cook, you will rarely hear me say I hit my marks because it sounds self-serving, but teams with multiple members that are successful set and hit marks like a well-timed dance routine.
    4. Don’t be afraid to measure rubs, sauces and wrap ingredients (honey, sugar, agave, butter, etc.) until you find the process that works for you. I was a baker for a lot of years.  Commercial baking uses formulas, not recipes to make breads and sweets.  Recipes have room for change and are open to interpretation.  Formulas are more precise.  Competition BBQ results can hinge on a little bit of this or that in the wrong place making a big difference in your final product.  Use shaker cups and measuring cups when measuring out sauces, injections and rubs.  A sauce or rub mix is a formula, not a recipe!  Be precise!  Once you find the right combination, you may stick with those cups and bottles or you may be confident enough to shoot from the hip and measure by eye.  I don’t recommend that, but I am guilty of it sometimes.
    5. Write down what processes worked or did not work on the back of the KCBS scoresheet that you get from a contest. Keep your contest results in a binder or folder and refer back to them when going to contests at those same venues or geographic areas.  There is no substitute for experience at a contest and as the pit master, you have a wealth of information at your disposal after you have some contests under your belt.  If the judges liked that hickory-habanero mint jelly combination on your chicken at the Sons of Italy Competition in New York City, write it down because you probably will not remember that next year!
    6. My final though is that looking back on my 76 competitions at the time I am writing this article I thought that my first GC would never happen. Three years into my competition BBQ career and no GC’s.  I had category wins and a couple of RGC’s but I never saw my name at the top of the list.  Well, financial advisor Dave Ramsey says, “Nothing happens without focus.  Don’t try to do everything at once.  Take it one step at a time!”  Rarely does a new team or a team that does not compete much have a run of GC’s or top calls.  It happens, but it is rare to see it.  Focus on your competition program one step at a time.  Build on successful processes, repeat them, learn from them and watch your competition program step up to new levels!

    Most importantly have fun!  That is what the sport of competition BBQ is about first and foremost.  Success will follow if you keep it fun!  I look forward to seeing you all on the BBQ trail soon!