At precisely High Noon on Saturday, May 19, 2013, an American Motorcyclist Association official pulled the lever of an air horn, it’s compressed air passing through a diaphragm and sending a loud shrill into the air, the piercing sound’s wavelengths getting everyone’s attention in the Prairie City OHV Park pit area.
It was time to go racing.
Forty mechanics immediately reached for their motorcycles and pulled them off their respective stands. One of those mechanics was Wayne Lumgair, longtime spanner man for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki racer Tyla Rattray. Rattray, meanwhile, dressed in his racing gear, was sitting in a chair, looking off into nowhere with a 1000-yard stare. Soon, recently christened AMA Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto, with his mechanic Mike Williamson on the back of the bike, came riding by Mitch Payton’s new Monster Energy/Pro Circuit 18-wheeler that houses the Enzo Ferrari of Motocross’ new 450 team.
“TYLA!” screamed Villopoto to his friend Rattray, who quickly snapped out of the “zone” he was in, looked up and smirked. The South African then got to his feet, grabbed his helmet and an umbrella to beat back the impossibly bright California sunlight and began walking down towards the starting gate, which when clanked into the soft dirt would launch the 45th Annual Hangtown Motocross Classic – the longest running National in U.S. motocross history.
Along with the other 39 riders and mechanics behind the gate, Rattray and Lumgair lined up the works Kawasaki KX450F. Graced with engine parts and bits sourced form Formula 1 and NASCAR teams, the bike is a mechanical marvel – alchemy of technology, ingenuity and increscent research and development. The colors of all the bikes, helmets and racing clothes were absolutely brilliant and there was an almost stifling atmosphere of nerves and tension reverberating through the staging area.
Concurrently, well over 25,000 fans surrounded the sinuous track. There were people everywhere – people hanging off fences, people in lawn chairs, people all over the hillsides and people teeming all over the facility. Thousands of umbrellas were sprinkled amongst the throng, all of them absolutely glowing from the stinging sunlight. It was motocross nirvana. It was classic motocross. It’s the reason why we all fell in the love with the sport in the first place.