Saturday
May192018

Hangtown 50th

Thanks DDNMC

50 Years of MX

Hangtown

Friday
May182018

Arrival of "The Hurricane"

Reprint from RacerX

 

Then Bob Hannah showed up, and all hell broke loose.

Motocross fans from way back know the story of how Hannah showed up in 1976 “like a hurricane,” according to Cycle News beat reporter Jim Gianatsis, who gave "the Hurricane" his nickname. A wild child from the California desert with exactly one AMA National race under his belt (a sixth-place finish at the '75 Cycle-Rama in San Antonio), Hannah was signed by Yamaha for the '76 season.

His first stop was in Florida, a state no stranger to hurricanes, to race the then-glorious Winter-AMA Series. He dominated on a 250 and had a couple of decent supercross finishes in the three races that led up to the outdoor opener, the Hangtown Classic. It was there that Hannah was dispatched to the 125 Class to take on the seemingly invincible Marty Smith and his factory Honda. It was April 4, 1976, one of the most pivotal days in motocross history.

The fiercely competitive Hannah didn’t just beat Smith and everyone else. He dominated. And he would continue to do so throughout the series. Granted, Smith was having issues with his Honda, but Hannah was reshaping the way men raced motocross. His wild riding style, flamboyant character, and killer instincts were a unique package that seemed to catch Marty and everyone else off-guard. The standard for training was raised by Hannah, and so was the speed. He was able to go faster and go longer, and he wasn't intimidated by anyone. In fact, Hannah pretty much hated everyone else he raced against—especially Europeans.

Whether it was an act or just downright meanness, Hannah approached every race with a burning desire to win, and when the 1976 125 Nationals were complete and it was time to race the Trans-AMA Series against the true masters of motocross led by Roger DeCoster, Hannah went to war. He introduced himself to "The Man," the then-five-time FIM 500cc World Motocross Champion, by running up his leg at Unadilla. It was a signal that the game was changing, and Roger and friends took heed. For the next three years, their Trans-AMA battles would be epic, with the Europeans slowly giving way to the Americans, led by the wild-riding Hannah, plus Tony DiStefano, Weinert, Howerton, and more. Hannah rattled every visitor's cage every chance he got, including calling them all “commie bastards” over the P.A. at the FIM 250cc U.S. Grand Prix at Unadilla.

Of course, this list is about AMA Motocross, and Hannah was exceptional there. He won three titles and a then-record 37 Nationals, spread across three classes (not mention to three straight supercross titles). And while his numbers would be eclipsed in years to come, the stats themselves are not Hannah's legacy. What made him such a legend—and what he changed on the racetrack—was his speed itself, the aggression, the work, and the mindset of everyone around him. He wanted to win so badly that it was contagious. You had to work like Hannah and ride like Hannah if you wanted to beat him.

Hannah also bridged the gap from supercross to outdoor motocross before anyone else, taking the skills he mastered in the stadiums and putting them to use outside. That made fast starts, a frantic pace, and precision jumping motocross requirements. And when Europe wasn't quick to follow, the Americans would soon surpass them.

Bob Hannah was not part of the historic team that won the 1981 Motocross and Trophee des Nations that signaled the transfer of world motocross power from Europe to America—that was Danny LaPorte, Johnny O'Mara, Chuck Sun, and Donnie Hansen—but he led the surge that preceded it. Even though he was sidelined at the height of his dominance for more than a year with a shattered leg from a water-skiing accident, his influence was obvious in what was happening on racetracks everywhere. Even a couple years after he came back, Hannah seemed well on his way to winning the 1983 AMA 250 Motocross Championship, as well as the SX title, before a broken wrist once again slowed him. The next year, it was his pelvis. Then the wrist again.

Hannah raced well past his prime, with injuries slowing his speed, but not his desire. By the time he was done in the late eighties, well past the time of his early peers Smith, DiStefano, Weinert, and, of course, DeCoster, the sport itself had completely changed. Hannah was the driving force behind that transformation, even though his pure stats don't quite reflect his deep influence. While it was Brad Lackey who would win that first world title, it was Hannah who set the pace during that crucial era.

There are several truly great riders who could have been #2 on this list of NBC Sports Gold 30 Greatest AMA Motocrossers, which has made the bench racing so much fun these past 29 days. But anyone who saw Bob Hannah race at his absolute best—banging elbows and busting boots with the old guard, leading the way in the new way of racing—certainly understands why Hannah ranks just above the rest. The Hurricane was the game-changer for American motocross in its collective race against the rest of the world.

To see all of Bob Hannah's results in both SX and MX, check out the Racer X Vault.

Friday
May182018

Hangtown 50th Anniversary!

Time to go Racing!!!

 

Founded in March 1968, the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club (DDNMC) embarked on a plan to present a motocross competition that would bring top riders to Northern California. As a result, the Hangtown Motocross Classic was born.

The story actually starts in 1967, when a group of local motorcycle enthusiasts met at Marion Pyle's bike shop, the Orangevale Motorcycle Center. They hoped to bring big-time motorcycle racing to the area, and that meeting set the stage for the creation of the DDNMC. From the beginning, the founders-Ed Clark, Carl Cranke, Dave Duarte, Don Fallon, Don Fischer, Bill Groom, Kurt McKimmy, Gene Nunes, Ray Nelson, Bill Onga, Joe Pyle, and Roy Tillus-wanted to stage their own race, and a big one at that!

The first DDNMC race was held at Murray's Ranch outside of Placerville in 1969. The race took its name from the Gold Rush days, when Placerville was known as "Hangtown." With a turnout of about 150 sportsman riders and 30 pros, the event (with its $600 pro purse) set the stage for Hangtown's future. The day ended with Larry Mulock, Gary Bailey, and Dick Mann sharing the winner's podium.

DDNMC has hosted some of the wildest and most successful motorcycle events since the world of motocross came into being. However, the old days at the Placerville sand pit are now long gone, as are the hangovers and all-night parties. Also gone are "Bad" Brad Lackey hopping on the bulldozer to help build the track, the Saturday-night mechanics' races with 250cc Bultaco motors stuffed into minibike frames, and more of the good old days.

All this changed when the race outgrew the sleepy hillsides of Placerville, with its two-lane roads and the old-fashioned thinking of some local residents who didn't like the changes brought by the races (or their thousands of spectators). So in 1979, the Club and the Sacramento County Department of Parks and Recreation put together a permanent facility at the Prairie City OHV Park in Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento. Eventually, the State OHV Department took control of the park and, in conjunction with DDNMC, has provided permanent sprinklers, fencing, restrooms, running water, gazebos, a state-of-the-art announcing tower, and other facilities.

While Hangtown predates the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, a national series was the dream of the founders more than 40 years ago. The DDNMC is proud to own and produce the longest-running motocross national of all, the Hangtown Motocross Classic.

Today, the Hangtown Motocross Classic is big business. Almost three dozen members meet three to four times a month to prepare for the following year's race. Even though the club is comprised of volunteers, the members commit to full-time work assignments to get their jobs done. In addition to the weekly meetings, required rides, and individual work assignments, DDNMC members commit to a three-week period in May to take the Prairie City track from its normal state to one fit for an AMA Pro Motocross National. The club takes "possession" of the track in early May and brings together hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to transform the track. The result is the continuation of a classic - the Hangtown Motocross Classic - at the only event on the schedule still run by a motorcycle club.

DDNMC managingƒ‚ members include: Bob Messer, Hangtown Director; Mark Hilton, Hangtown Track Director; Jeff Kreklberg, Outside Hangtown Director; Billy Hilton, President; Ed Santin, Competition Director.

 

Friday
May182018

Hangtown 50 Years New

I found this in our archives and thought it was a good time to bring it out again. The 50th Hangtown anniversary is just days away.

The Nationals have not always been the smooth running programs we see these days. In the early days the weather sometimes made conditions challenging especially for the spectators. Many of you more seasoned riders may remember days like this. One of the all time classics is the 1975 Hangtown National at the old Plymouth track. I always liked this track but not in these type of conditions. I was actually at this race as a spectator. This is the first race I ever took my wife to, I'm surprised I ever got her to another. Thanks to Dave Duarte one of the early Dirt Diggers North for sending this to us. I'm sure Dave was probably knee deep in mud on this day back in '75

 

 

Friday
May182018

Hangtown...Outdoor Time!

Friday
May182018

2019 Dakar Rally

After making a return to the Dakar Rally route in 2018, Peru is set to host the entire rally event in 2019. 

Running from January 6-17, registrations open on May 21 for the 41st edition of the world’s toughest motorcycle race.

Celebrating its 10thanniversary in South America, the 2019 Dakar will start and finishing in the Peruvian capital of Lima.

The sand dunes of Peru featured heavily in the outcome of the 2018 event won by Matthias Walkner. The dunes in the Ica and Tanaka regions took out several big names including Sam Sunderland, Nani Roma and Sebastien Loeb in 2018. 

 

Dakar 2018 Matthias.Walkner.No2 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: PhotosDakar.com

Dakar 2019 key points:

  • Edition 41 of the Dakar will be contested from January 6th to 17th 2019, on a giant loop rally-route entirely in Peru with the start and finish in Lima.
  • Mapped around the Peruvian deserts, the 2019 Dakar promises to be one of the sandiest in the history of the rally. 
  • Variety of terrain will include high altitude mountain ranges.
  • Registrations begins on May 21st on dakar.com

 

The ten-stage rally-route of the 2019 edition will provide every competitor the opportunity work on their endurance in the sand and organisers promise “each stage will be harder than the previous” until the final days. 

The 2019 route promises to be “predominantly sandy” as you’d expect from Peru, with much of the riding on open terrain which is set to feature “every imaginable navigation subtlety” they say.  

New for 2019 will be a Semi-Marathon category, or rather opportunity. Competitors who go out in the first week will have the chance to return to the race in week two, after the rest day.

Friday
May182018

Revision: MXGP of Germany

A flick through the history books

 

The Grand Prix contingent have marched into the familiar surroundings of Teutschenthal, Germany, ahead of the eighth round of the FIM World Championship. An overwhelming majority of riders and industry personnel know what to expect from the hard-pack track, as it is one of the oldest on the calendar.

One could argue that is evident in the consistency of the soil, as there have been comments about the way in which it has deteriorated in recent years. The slick nature has caught out a handful of protagonists and offered up some rather memorable moments. Who could forget the year that Max Nagl entered his home event with the red plate and then sustained a foot injury? What about the time that Ken Roczen returned for a wildcard ride in the premier division and duked it out with Antonio Cairoli? How about that year that Evgeny Bobryshev claimed his first and only overall win as a HRC rider?

Teutschenthal was cruel to Max Nagl during a title run in 2015 (Husqvarna/J.P Acevedo)

The final point there is actually an intriguing one, because Teutschenthal has played host to a handful of first-time winners in the MXGP (previously named MX1) and MX2 categories. Brian Jorgensen was the overall winner in 2004 and then Evgeny Bobryshev tasted success in 2011. Almost unbelievably, neither rider managed to stand atop the podium again. What else do those two have in common? Paolo Martin looked after both riders when they triumphed at Teutschenthal. Ken Roczen won his first Grand Prix at Teutschenthal, much like those two, but it ended up being the first of many.

It is most interesting that the three aforementioned riders did not claim those victories aboard Austrian machinery, as it unearths the fact that KTM have not been the most dominant here. There have been KTM victories, of course, but their longest streak in a class is two (2010 and 2011 in MX2, then 2016 and 2017 in MXGP). KTM have only won both classes on the same weekend once, which was two seasons ago, as well. Does this mean that the door could be open for a different manufacturer to put their machine atop the podium? It is still unlikely, especially considering that Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings were first and second at this round last year.

The first time that Jeffrey Herlings won at Teutschenthal was in 2014 (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

There is an obvious reason for the lack of KTM victories, which is that Jeffrey Herlings has only won at this circuit twice. Whereas at the Grand Prix of Latvia, where the previous round was held, he entered the event with four victories to his name. Antonio Cairoli is the winningest rider at this facility, with five wins (one in MX2 and four in MXGP), and there is no way that he will lose that title this weekend. One statistic that could potentially change though is that Husqvarna are the only manufacturer without a win in either MXGP or MX2. Max Anstie, Gautier Paulin, Thomas Covington and Thomas Kjer Olsen are all up to the challenge.

Another statistic that could change is that Mickael Pichon currently holds the record for the greatest advantage in a premier-class (MX1 or MXGP) moto at Teutschenthal. Pichon won the second moto by nineteen seconds thirteen years ago and that has not been beaten since. It is certainly not ludicrous to think that Jeffrey Herlings could have a greater advantage in one of the motos this weekend, especially if he takes the holeshot. A good start would be welcomed by the current series leader.

Antonio Cairoli is currently the winningest rider at Teutschenthal (KTM Images/Ray Archer)