All you motocross racers out there, I have a question for you. If you were going to start your own motocross race series what would you do and how would you do it? Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time racing has probably thought about it at least once. You might have some new ideas that would work well and solve real problems. But be aware that your success in this enterprise will largely be determined by your motivation, and by your determination to see your vision come to life.
Maybe the bigger question is WHY would you do it? What would you do differently than other series/promoters? If that is your sole motivation, your dissatisfaction with other promoters, you will soon learn just how hard it is to put something like this together. If your motivation is to rake in the dough, you’ll also be sorely disappointed.
However, maybe you DO have an inspiration, an idea on how to make things better. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but great ideas never come out of bad intentions, so that’s a start at least. Ideally you would want to fill a need. Maybe focus on an underserved geography. Maybe think outside the box and create classes for folks who haven’t been on a starting grid in a long time, if ever. In the end the things that we create are a reflection of ourselves; our hopes, our visions, our dreams. A lazy person who is not good with details, for example, would not be a good race promoter. A dedicated hard-worker with a big heart would fit the bill much better.
And that brings me to Grant Ellsworth. I came to know Grant through Facebook. As a man who will be 60 this year that is both disturbing and incredibly common, but welcome to 2019. Something about the things he said, both weird and righteous, made me feel that this is someone I should get to know better. A brother-from-another-mother type of thing. He is someone who would never avoid a good argument. He is someone who knows how to go just enough over the line to make his point, so much so that it makes you circle back, only to realize the truth of what he was saying. He is someone whose honesty might set you back. But I am a Cancer, born in the year of the Boar, and honesty is a trait I can smell a mile away. Honest people aren’t the easiest to live with, but that’s only because we are always right. And then there’s Ricky Rogue, but that’s another story for another day. And I mean a LONG story…
Now when Grant asked himself that question, (“if you were going to start your own race series what would you do?”), he could have responded in two different ways. He could have been different for the sake of being different, reacting to whatever he felt other series were lacking, or he could have started with his own organic vision of what a race series should be. HIS race series. I am so glad he did the latter.
I know that there were so many other people involved in making this series a reality. The website classxmx.com was create by yours truly, with zero compensation. Not because it wasn’t offered, but because I never even thought to ask. All the guys that helped with the track, the ubiquitous Steve Clark, the girls at the sign up booth, the many great sponsors, and even Bob (when he wasn’t looking for his lost can of beer) all contributed greatly.
Yet this event was a true reflection of Grant. What do I mean by that? Every person was welcomed and made to feel at home. The signage and great background music all contributed to the atmosphere. The message was loud and clear, “we are here to have fun!”. The track wasn’t truly ready for this race. Everyone knew that. It had fallen into disrepair and it would take a herculean task to make it right, even with the right equipment. Let’s say something post WWII. As I wandered out to the fire pit at 11:30pm Grant and the crew were just pulling back into the pits from a very dark late-night track prep session. By daylight on race day Grant was back at it again.
The dirt could have used a little more discing. The soil was good, just a little clumped into large chunks. Despite incredible efforts to water the track, dry spots were bound to arise. Add in a 95+ degree day and I had my doubts about the track. But when race time rolled around, and with the help of the local Tieton football squad manning the flags, moto after moto rolled buy without a hitch. I didn’t see any pileups or real bad crashes, just a few wash-outs and high-sides. The dust was reasonable and confined to certain areas. The track was quite long and technical, with great elevation changes. It also held up quite well throughout the day. I was impressed.
So let’s celebrate this new race series! In a time of change, with new regulations and closing tracks, it’s a joy to return to the roots of motocross racing. This thing is just getting started. It will only go as far as WE take it. I can easily see what Grant mentioned in his speech, triple the crowd next year. And by getting involved yourself you’ll be able to answer that question as well, (“if you were going to start your own race series what would you do?”). Your contributions and ideas will add up to a bigger and better series. The motivation behind this series, as I understand it, is to maximize the FUN and offer something for EVERYONE. Now that’s a motivation I can get behind.