What’s new pussycat? You might have to be over fifty to get that reference to a movie theme song from 1965. However, I heard it on a commercial for kitty litter the other day. Funny how old things become new as a whole new generation moans “whoa oh whoa oh whoa oh!” to Tom Jones’ familiar refrain. I know that the lyrics have nothing to do with feline fecal management. And one thing that is definitely not coming back in fashion is women allowing themselves to be called pussycats. But don’t let that ruin the analogy for you. With the aforementioned pussycats out of the way, “what’s new?” was the question in my mind at the NW Challenge Vintage MX two-day extravaganza this past weekend. Surely lots of old new stuff to see this year.
The highlight for me personally was meeting David Bailey and shaking his hand. Never seen him before. So that was new. Such a kind and gentle spirit.
[On a side note, all the old school mx heroes I have met have big hands. David has big hands. Must mean something. And seriously, who would you rather shake hands with, an old guy like Bailey or a new guy like Cooper Webb? Nothing against Cooper, but I’ll bet you twenty bucks he has small hands.]
Broc Glover was there. Chuck Sun was there. Scott Burnworth was there. Have seen their smiling faces before at PNW vintage races. Warren Reid was there! That’s new. They are all getting old, but they all looked fit and in great shape. I am 100% sure they all have big hands.
Overcast skies, known simply as “the sky” to Pacific Northwesterners, greeted racers and fans both days. Turned out to be ideal conditions and the track was prime. Things were behind schedule both days, but that is not new. That is simply part of the charm of a vintage event. This series has only been in place for six years. That surprised me. It is truly quite new, this series with old bikes and older people. As usual, the Huffman family did a fantastic job supporting the event and getting the track dialed. Ralph Huffman, the family patriarch, was presented with a lovely plaque made from a chainsaw blade for all his years of dedication and love for the racers. His speech was very moving and drove many to tears. Good man.
I made some new friends. Scott Wallenberg, David Anderson, Jeffery McClain, and others. They are old, like I am, but new to me! I saw a couple Husqvarna 360 CRs that looked exactly like my old bike. That was new. I loved that bike, even though it hated to turn, was hard to start, and had bad brakes. Which strikes me as funny. Bikes are so much better now. So how did old become new? As I watched a gentleman trying to start his BSA after stalling (I had a 441 Victor when I was 18, so I felt his pain) I thought to myself “they know that new bikes have electric starters, right?”. But a totally boring push of a button cannot compare to the extremely high heart rate one can achieve with full-body gymnastic kick-start exercises. And nostalgia sometimes demands payment in pain in order to truly revive those long-lost moments of utter frustration and disappointment. New modern mx bikes cannot offer you that!
Something else new this year, a modern bike class. Gives racers with modern four strokes a chance to enjoy the event without having to miss practice because they couldn’t get their thirty-nine-year-old warhorse started. As I watched these new bikes smoothly navigate the same course that had the old bikes bucking like broncos, it occurred to me that these machines looked pale and boring compared to the shiny Day-Glo colored Monarchs, Montessas, and Maicos. You don’t come here to see new stuff anyway. It’s the old stuff that’s new to you that grabs your attention and pulls at your heart strings.
Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations”. But don’t get confused. These people are not reliving their past. They are living their present. They are not posers, pretending to be what they aren’t. The bikes aren’t showroom restorations that are brought out into the sun once a year. These are the bikes they ride all year. This is the gear they wear all year. This is the extended Oregon/Washington/Idaho Vintage MX Family. The Pacific Northwest has become known as the two-stroke epicenter of the motocross universe. That is because we never stopped riding these bikes and worshipping at the altar of Decoster, Pomeroy, Lackey, and Hannah. This is who we are.
So what’s new pussycat?! What’s new is old, and what’s old is new. Stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it! Time is just an illusion, after all. The only time that matters is NOW and the only thing that matters is chasing your happiness. And if that is what brought you to Washougal this weekend, to find the new in the old, I know you found it. Maybe it was that one bike you saw that brought long cherished memories flowing back into you. Maybe it was an old geezer tearing it up on an ancient steed. Maybe it was the smile on a kid’s face as she entered her first race on a bike from the 70s. Maybe it was in the joy felt when meeting a childhood hero like David Bailey for the first time. Maybe it was in the words of old man Huffman as he expressed his appreciation for the recognition he so richly deserved. So the next time someone asks you what’s new, make sure you tell them about all the old memories that were made new, at least for a day, at the 6th annual NW Challenge Vintage MX races.