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Event Recap

What’s Old Is New

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.

See hundreds of photos from the event here:

TNMX at PIR – 53rd Anniversary


I’m not a very good golfer. Maybe I could be if I really tried hard. But then again, probably not. I can generally hit it straight and am pretty good around the green. I do find that the more I DON’T play, the better I usually golf. Practice doesn’t seem to make perfect for me. In reality though, I’m just not that good. I will admit that the highs of golf are quite incredible. Hitting that one perfect shot, exactly where you aimed it, almost makes all the pain you went through to get to that point worth it. Almost. But it’s the endless hooks, slices, and shanks that eventually get to you. As high as the highs are, the lows will drive you absolutely nuts. “A Good Walk Spoiled” is the name of the best-selling book on golf. It is a theme I can well relate to, as I recall countless furious rages at the Gods of the links. The general idea is; why would you want to spend significant time and money on something that frustrates you to no end?

This is what I was thinking about after spending time at the 53rd Anniversary Thursday Night Motocross at Portland International Raceway. Yes, I said that right. 53rd anniversary. That makes it the longest running night motocross series in the known universe. For those of you who haven’t been there before, let me tell you how it works. As you pull off the I5 freeway just north of downtown Portland you head down a street that takes you to a left turn onto a road that runs down a half-mile or so past a dog park. The actual entrance to PIR is to the left on this road, and only holds about 30 or so vehicles. After that everybody stages along this road running by the dog park. You drive down as far as the backup is, do a U-turn, and get in line. For this 53rd anniversary race they opened the gates at 2:00 to accommodate the huge crowds expected. Or at least they were supposed to. They didn’t actually open until much later. I decided to get there early as I knew it was going to be crazy, but it was way beyond that. I arrived at 1:00 and found myself just outside the entrance area, not too far back. But as the vehicles quickly piled in the backup looped all the way back to the main street. I had never seen his before. A major thoroughfare became essentially blocked by traffic trying to get into the race. It was insane!

Getting there is just stage one, however. After entering the facility and winding your way past the road race track finding a good place to park becomes your next challenge, especially on a hot, sunny summer day. You then unload your bike, get your gear ready, and setup your pop-up. Expect long lines at sign-up. The staff at PIR does a great job, which makes it all seem less stressful than it could be. Lines at the restroom, food stalls, and beer garden are just expected. Hopefully you got there in time for practice. And did I mention the traffic?

After all this you would expect a great night of racing, and it really was. The TNMX crew does a great job putting on these events. But there are sacrifices to be made when a zillion racers are signed up to race. For this night it is one moto only, except for the Pros who qualify for the main event. For everyone else they have signed up for one 5 lap moto, if they signed up for one class. This brings me back to my golf analogy. It seems like an awful lot of time and money spent for such a limited racing experience. Many of these racers had raced earlier in the day at the outdoor Washougal Amateur event earlier in the day. Wrap your head around that! Why would anyone want to put themselves through what appears to be a very low return on investment? Why would you want to spend significant time and money for only 15 minutes of actual racing?! Those of you who race know the answer to that question. For the rest of you I will fill you in. It’s kind of complicated…

FAMILY. Everywhere you look there are families racing, wrenching, supporting, engaging, and enjoying. Virtually every racer who has gone anywhere has had a family supporting them. The effort required to be even moderately successful in this sport requires a team effort. That cannot be denied. Motocross is a family affair. Always has been. Always will be.

FRIENDS. “Facebook Friends” is such a misnomer, at least in my opinion. It completely destroys the meaning of the word “friend”. A friend is someone you know well. It is someone who you have been through things with. It is some you trust. How do you develop these types of relationships in today’s time-deficient world? Friends have to spend time together in challenging circumstances. That is the only way you can truly know someone. Whether that is kayaking, snow-boarding, or dirt-bikes it doesn’t matter. It’s just that motocross happens to be the best.

COMRADERY. In a world dominated by social media and the gravitational pull of the couch, it takes something special to get people together to engage in extreme activity. That is the power of motocross. Being part of that group. Being part of that relatively young history. Seeing the huge crowds of people of all ages there to see you race is powerful. The bonds you can build in an environment like this are as extreme as the racing is.

ATMOSPHERE. The crowds. The announcer. The noise. The anticipation. The thrill of competition. The extreme performances. The jumps! The evening sky. The lights coming on. The satisfaction of knowing you did your best. PIR Thursday Night MX always has a great atmosphere.

GLADIATORS. Modern motocross is about as close to ancient Roman gladiators as it gets. Look at the gear they wear. The helmets, the boots, the gloves, the chest protectors, the pants, the jerseys, the knee braces, all specially designed for these warriors-on-wheels. The battles waged on the track can get very intense, but good sportsmanship is the rule of the day. No one wants to get hurt out there. In the end it is all about testing oneself. Surrounded by all the noise, excitement, and crowds, each racer is in battle against their inner demons of fear and doubt. Putting those demons to rest, at least for one night, is a noble undertaking to say the least.

IT’S THURSDAY! What the hell else are you going to do on a Thursday Night?! Watch Big Bang Theory re-runs or binge-watch Stranger Things again? Go grocery shopping at Wal-Mart? Play some lame video game that you aren’t that good at? Come on. Life is short. You can do better than that. April through September is the time to get out to Portland International Raceway and check out Thursday Night Motocross. They have been doing it for 53 years, so they must be doing something right. If you don’t have the guts to get out there and race, at least get out there and cheer on these amazing warriors. Just make sure you get there early and bring some patience. It will be well rewarded.

To see ALL photos from the event go to:

Misc. and Racers #0-100

Racers #100-300

Racers #300+

For Old Geezers Like Me

As we get older our mind starts to change. It becomes less sharp. It gets a little harder to focus. Just like your body, it becomes tired easily. And we all know that memory loss is one of the primary ravages of time. However, I am discovering another way the mind changes with age. As the day-to-day worries of raising children and advancing in your career are pretty much over your mind is freer to let certain memories break-through in powerful ways. Especially when those memories are from your early childhood. Things you haven’t thought of at all for many, many years suddenly rush back to your consciousness in surprising ways.

I saw that Gene Romero died the other day. It took my brain less than a micro-second to generate an image in my head of Gene on his Triumph with his #3 plate going flat-out through a turn at 100 mph. That made me think. Why was that so easy to bring to the forefront of my mind, when so many other memories have long faded from my brain? Well, I believe I found the answer.

Most of my earliest childhood memories of my father take place at a race track somewhere near San Jose, California. Flat track, speedway, and sprint car races were very popular back in the early 60s. All three were awe-inspiring for a four-year-old kid, but flat track always stood out to me because of the speed. Although I raced countless motocross races as a teenager, and some observed trials and enduros, I never had any desire to try flat track. That seemed reserved for people with a special level of daring and fearlessness. Maybe that’s why flat track racing has a special place in my heart. Of all the racing disciplines, it’s probably the one I could least see myself doing. It terrifies me just to watch those guys, and girls, swing it sideways at 100 mph. Insane. Yet at the same time it is so simple and pure. Motocross seems incredibly complicated compared to flat track. For whatever reason there were very few conversations between us, and maybe that was quite normal for fathers and sons back then. It was really those moments spent in silence, while motorcycles or sprint cars went whizzing by at deafening volumes, that we bonded.

Castle Rock is a city in Cowlitz County, Washington, United States. Located between the Willapa Hills and the western base of Mount St. Helens, Castle Rock is at the heart of Washington timber country in the Pacific temperate rain forest. The Castle Rock Raceway has been around since the 70s. It has a lot of history, not all of it so great from what I hear, but for the past ten years a lot of effort has gone into turning it in the right direction. That is where I found myself tonight, watching flat track races on a somewhat overcast Washington evening. Semi-ancient and well-worn grandstands surround a little over half of the track. The vast number of seats harken to what it must have been like when the stands were full of cheering fans. I don’t know what a decent crowd would be, but all I know is there were a lot of people there who seemed to be having a good time. As the races went off, one after another without a hitch, I felt that this was a very well-run event in the hands of the folks at the Mount Saint Helens Motorcycle Club. I see a lot of potential here, and I know I’ll be back. Maybe I’ll see you there. I know my Father was there, in spirit, soaking it all in. Maybe yours was as well. After all, what better way to spend a Saturday evening? My experience even inspired a poem…

Blue grooves and steel shoes
At the Castle Rock track
Inside, outside, you choose
Or move to the back

Under the lights
And the roar of the thunder
Saturday nights
Full of awe and wonder

Flat track racer
Smiling at me
Grin ear-to-ear
For all to see

Recollections to reprise
Now coming to be
As it once was
Again it shall be

And that’s no better wish
For old geezers like me

The Inaugural CLASS X MX Race

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 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.

Flashback Friday – Washougal MX National 2013

July 21st, 2013 would mark an important footnote in the career of Pacific Northwest native Ryan Villopoto. It would be his first time to win the overall at Washougal, a track he knows well, in his home state of Washington. He would battle with Ryan Dungey throughout the day and his 2-1 would beat Dungey’s 1-2. There was no question who the fastest racer was though. Villopoto came from behind in both motos, and while he couldn’t quite catch Dungey in moto one, his pass in moto two was a thing of beauty.

“I’ve never been very great at this place. I’ve always struggled here a little bit,” Villopoto told The Columbian newspaper. “It definitely feels good to get it done … I ended up on the short end of the stick a lot of times. Today, I ended up with the long stick.”

James Stewart rounded out the podium and Jake Weimer was at his best with a solid fourth. Eli Tomac was the master of the 250 class, with Ken Roczen close behind. A young Marvin Musquin would end up on the podium in third. Justin Bogle, Justin Hill, and Cole Seely were other notable 250 class top ten finishers. Adam Cianciarulo would get great starts, but could only muster a 6-16 for tenth overall. Zach Osborne came in sixth on a Honda, while Blake Baggett ended up fifteenth with an 35-8 on a Kawasaki.

Vintage Motocross @ Riverdale

Pacific Northwest Vintage MX Series, Final Round
September 29th, 2018
Riverdale Raceway

How do you define success? That’s a big question. A lot can ride on the answer. Success can provide fame and fortune, and the lack thereof anonymity and poverty. Most people will start with the numbers. That’s the easy thing to do. If someone were to call Ricky Carmichael “unsuccessful” at motocross you would laugh out loud, as would I. For a race promoter it is ALL ABOUT the numbers. If nobody shows up to your race, it won’t be much of a race.

The Pacific Northwest Vintage Motocross organization held the final round of their 2018 series at Riverdale Raceway this past Saturday. By all measures it would appear to be a success. Being able to gather hundreds of vintage mx enthusiasts, and their spectacular collection of archaic machinery, together over a six month time period at seven different locations is quite impressive.

Of course, we could expound on the numbers and dig deeper. Are they up, down, or sideways? What percentage of racers are racing in more than one class? What is the percentage of female participation, and is it increasing or decreasing? How about the age groups? How are they changing? We could analyze data until the cows come home and come to certain conclusions, conclusions that usually support our hypothesis.

But I submit that we need to take a different approach here. Was the 2018 PNW Vintage MX Series a success? Here are the criteria I would examine:

  • New Friends
    I have been to many motocross races. Thursday Night MX at PIR, for example. I don’t recall making any new friends there, although you’d think I would while waiting in line for 15 minutes for a corn dog. Fortunately, I cannot say the same for the Vintage MX series. Remember that scene from “Tombstone” where Kurt Russell says to Val Kilmer “I have lots of friends”? And then Doc Holiday says back to Wyatt Earp “Well, I don’t”. Well, that’s me, Doc, not Wyatt. However, I have made more friends just going to a few vintage races, let alone racing in them, than I could have possibly imagined. And EVERYBODY is so nice.
  • Smiles Per Minute
    We all know that racing is supposed to be FUN. Unless maybe it is your job. But even then, every time I ever saw Magoo, Schultz, Zahrt, or Pomeroy it sure seemed like they were having a good time to me. And, as they say, if it’s not fun you must be doing it wrong. I had way, way, WAY too much fun at this event. I was unprepared for the sudden rush of joy and satisfaction.
  • Selfless Acts of Kindness
    If you ever read a story that starts with “In the cut-throat, ultra-competitive world of Vintage Motocross…” you can rest assured that the author is a moron and has no idea what he/she is talking about. I either observed or was a recipient of some very nice acts of kindness by total strangers. So what is the source of all this goodwill and kindness? Is it Amway, or some religious “cult”? No. Perhaps it is contagious. Yes, I am sure it is. And I DO think it is a cult. The Cult of Vintage MX. I am glad to say that I am all in and hope to earn my status as a member in good standing very soon.

If you add it all up, I would have to say that this series was an enormous success. Since I am so new, it would be hard for me to really know all the names to thank for making all this happen. But better than words of thanks, let me say that I hope to contribute A LOT to the community in the future and get involved in growing the sport.

So now we’re back to numbers. How should the club grow? It is much more than just about adding more bodies, at least to me. It is about adding the RIGHT people. People who would rather come in second than knock down a fellow racer. People who would offer you anything they had with them if you needed it, even their bike, as long as you brought it back. People who will offer support, a smile, and cheers to the slowest racer in the slowest race not because they “should”, but because that’s just the kind of people they are. And THOSE are the kind of numbers I can really get behind!

PNW Vintage MX – Northwest Challenge 2018

August 18th-19th, 2018

Where can you find more smoke than at a Portland, Oregon cannabis festival? Where will you hear more missed shifts than at a 60’s Volkswagen Beetle parade? Where can you distinctly smell the assorted brands of two-stroke pre-mix oils wafting by you and recognize them, all while amazing yourself that these things still exist in your memory? And where can you have more fun than a barrel full of Maico’s? It must be Vintage Motocross at Washougal, Washington!

This is an annual event hosted and managed by the PACIFIC NORTHWEST VINTAGE MOTOCROSS club. Each year they host a series of seven races in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. The Washougal event is two days packed full of an amazing number and variety of classes all celebrating “the good old days”, whenever those days may have occurred. While the first day is focused on the older bikes, especially the Vintage classes, the second day is mostly the Evo and Revo classes. If you can name the brand and model of motocross bike from just about any era it was there on full display. CZ, Maico, Husqvarna (the Swedish/real one), Bultaco, Montessa, Penton, Hodaka, Monarch, and others all joined in with the Japanese Big Four and KTM’s. I especially enjoyed those racers who went all out and outfitted themselves with leathers, Jofa face guards, and vintage jerseys. Very cool.

While the races used to be held on a grass field, fire danger has prevented that from happening the past few years. Now it is on the world-famous motocross track. The first day saw significant changes to the track that most of us know from racing there or watching the Nationals. Horsepower Hill was cut off about a third of the way up and sent off to the left. The part of the track way up the top, and to the left, was removed. The infamous Washougal Whoops were also left out on day one. However, everything except the top left part of the track was added back in on day two. This made for some great passing opportunities and exciting races. There was definitely something for everyone. An impressive eighteen classes on day one and twenty on day two went as smoothly as can be expected, though the whoops did claim their fair share of victims.

A very big part of the weekend was raising funds for a charity to support JAN BABENDERERDE, an important and beloved member of the classic MX community who suffered severe injuries while racing. Jan had old friends, seldom seen acquaintances, and perfect strangers coming up to him all throughout the two days. Some just wanted to say hi and to see how he was doing. Most of them wanted to give him a hug. Some weren’t sure if they should, while others just jumped right in. I am sure he appreciated the sincere outpouring of love that was evident. The track announcers did an excellent job of reminding everyone of the charity, even though they did it with varying pronunciations of Jan’s last name. All kidding aside, it’s always good to hear Brian Barnes’ voice and see him out there doing what he does best.

If you want to know who “The Man” was over the course of the weekend, it was definitely Tommy Weeck. He rode a variety of bikes in several classes, including a Husqvarna CR125 from way back in the day. He rode that Husky to a 1-1 finish in the Pomeroy Cup race. He pulled ahead of the pack in each of his races and squeezed every last ounce of motocross capability out of his various well-aged bikes. It was a sight to behold. There were other local legends in attendance as well. Ryan Huffman won the 250 Vintage Expert class on a Husqvarna. Warren Reid and Scott Burnworth were other recognizable names lining up to do battle on Ryan’s Washougal course.

As much as I enjoyed watching the Pros, there was joy in seeing all these old bikes, and old riders, out there doing things that bring back good memories. Maybe those memories were from the late 60’s. Maybe they were from the 70’s, like mine are. For some maybe even the 80’s and 90’s. This was a place to relive ALL those memories, as well as make NEW ONES. However, the TRULY AMAZING THING that struck me is that this racing and these bikes appeal to YOUNG PEOPLE as well! Something about the simplicity of the bikes and the ease of repair engages them. Something about the atmosphere, that is more mellow and inviting than a modern-day motocross race, welcomes them. Something about their fellow racers who aren’t just out to win, but there to have fun together as a larger group, appeals to them. They are able to latch on to the NOSTAGIA of vintage motocross without ever having lived through it! Think about that for a second. In the same way that classic rock and roll has spanned and bridged generations, classic motocross is doing that as well. This bodes well for the future of the sport and is a very good sign for those of us who know and love the mx bikes and mx culture of our youth. WHENEVER that may have been.


Jan Babenderede Charity Race video

Some sights and sounds from the recent charity race at Pacific Raceways to support a great fellow racer and brother…

Hangover Scramble 2017

“Not enough tear-offs in the world”

The 2017 Hangover Scramble at Washougal MX Park was an event to remember for all time. No words to describe the carnage, pain, and misery. And to think I was going to sign-up and ride, before I came to my senses and went to watch. Good Lord! Some incredibly talented and brave souls made the best of what was a brutal course.



By Mark Simpson


The Times They Are a-Changin’. These words, written and sung by a Nobel Poet Laureate named Bob, are a cautionary tale, a warning of what’s coming in the very near future. This was the theme in my head as I looked forward to the Washougal National of 2017. I have a lot of questions about the future of motocross, and dirt bikes in general, just as you do. With fuel injected two-strokes, increased regulations, and electric bikes coming along many changes are surely coming to the sport we love. Although I last raced seriously in the ‘70’s, which definitely qualifies me as old, I am not rigid in my thinking. I know that change is necessary, and just because something is old doesn’t make it better. It just makes it old.

I was away from the sport of motocross, and dirt bikes in general for over 30 years, but have come back in the past five years. Washougal is twenty minutes down the road from me and I have been to a few Nationals there. Since Washougal is the 9th race of a 12-race series things often seem scripted at this point. Not too many surprises this late in the season, as injuries have taken their toll and the front-runner pulls away. Yet this year hasn’t exactly played to script. No one single racer has stepped up to dominate, as the heir apparent at Kawasaki continues his trend of being his own worst enemy. The recent retirement of past dominant stars like Dungey, Villapoto and others, and the disappearance of the sensational James Stewart, has opened the doors for a new cast of heroes. So where exactly is the sport at now and what is happening with this new class of stars?

In order to get a gauge on how much motocross has changed since I attended Hangtown in 1976, I would need some kind of back-stage access. This is where my old buddy Ron Lawson would come in handy. Yes, THAT Ron Lawson, editor of this very fine website. Ron and I were part of small gang of dangerous (only to ourselves) but well-meaning moto misfits in the mid-’70s. When we weren’t riding or racing we were usually involved in all-night Risk (“the game of global domination”) battles, rafting down the Russian River, hanging out at the local cycle center, or playing pranks on each other. I re-connected with Ron recently on Facebook. Betting on the chance that he has finally forgiven me for the time I convinced him that WD-40 was the best thing to clean the bug-encrusted windshield on his beloved van, I hoped to attend this year’s event as a media member for the first time. This behind the scenes access would give me the answers I seek. And sure enough, Ron came through and off I went!

As I arrived on Friday, the day before the races, I first headed to the paddock. The team big-rigs were arrayed in all their glory. Tomac’s Kawasaki was one of the few bikes on display. It was extremely hot, but winds of change were blowing through the pits. The RCH Suzuki team had announced they were shutting down for good. The KTM tent was emblazoned with photos of their three riders, two of whom have recently retired. In general there was a lot of talk about next season and what changes might lay ahead. Amidst all this talk of change, this experience taught me some other things as well. The MX community is still very tight-knit and welcoming. The fans are as crazy as I remember them, evidenced by shotgun blasts at 3am and golf carts laden with young people racing through the campground area at breakneck speeds. And, of course, the obligatory monster truck burn-outs. I also see that it still rings true that 1st and 3rd place are smiling, while 2nd is pretty pissed off underneath the campaign-popping façade.

My heroes weren’t there racing on Saturday. Decoster, Howerton, Distefano, and Lackey are all just memories now. Yet as I watched the long lines of people queuing up for an autograph and selfie with Tomac, Musquin, and Cianciarulo I saw new a generation of stars worthy of moderated hero worship. I see a lot of good things in today’s MX stars and I am sure they are very good people in general, more so than many of the flawed heroes of yesterday. The throngs gathered around Trey Canard moved me. Although he has retired, his interaction with his fans was exemplary and I could see they truly loved and appreciated him. And, of course, the racing was just fantastic. Especially from my viewpoint on the other side of the fence.

So, my conclusion? Motocross will continue to evolve and change. But whether it’s electric bikes or hovercraft, or back to two-strokes, motocross will survive and thrive well into the future. And we will still go watch and be amazed by some the best racing events on the planet. As long as there are outdoor Nationals at legendary tracks like Washougal, Unadilla, and Hangtown motocross will go on. I look forward to another 30 years of Washougal, if I live that long. Motocross may not be exactly what it used to be, but it is alive and well. In summation, to quote another old rocker, “Rock is dead, long live rock!”.


Now what is going on with flat track?! I see that is making a comeback. Might have to go investigate…

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