Motocross Editorial: History 101

Jean Turner | July 30, 2013

History… the very word conjures up images of stuffy museums and lectures from old professors wearing blazers with elbow patches. If you’re anything like me, you’ve daydreamed your way through many a history class, and who can blame us? It’s far more interesting when that history is about motocross, but even then it’s not the sexiest topic in the world. Especially if you’re looking at black-and-white photos of guys you don’t know and places you’ve never been, who won titles in championships you’ve never heard of. Still, I’ve always considered myself well versed on the lineage of the sport that now consumes my life. I could rattle off historic facts and motocross stats better than most people my age, but it wasn’t until a recent series of happenstance that I’ve begun to appreciate a new perspective of the past – namely the champions and personalities of the last several decades.

Through a variety of clients and tasks this year, I’ve found myself delving into moto history on a regular basis in the past few months. Through attending events, races, conducting interviews and, of course, combing through the Cycle News Archives, the past has come alive in a way that I’ve never experienced before.

It all started with attending Scott Burnworth’s SoCal Vintage MX Classic at Barona Oaks. First off, did you know that you don’t need a vintage bike to race at a vintage event? Tell your friends. If you frequent Glen Helen, you know that guys like Doug Dubach and Gary Jones can still turn some fast laps. But it’s a different experience seeing them moto on the vintage machinery they grew up riding. The 100cc Works Revenge class was a highlight like no other. Watching guys like Burner and Dubach duke it out on little air-cooled 100cc two-strokes was a true rider’s race; motocross doesn’t get much more grass roots than that. The next 100cc Works Revenge will take place at Marty Tripes’ fourth annual Vintage Days event on September 7 at The Ranch. I would urge you to come out, especially if you’ve never attended a vintage race.

I was also fortunate enough to sit in on some interviews recently that were being filmed for the upcoming John Penton movie. Preston Petty, Rick Sieman, Dave Ekins and even the greats Torsten Hallman and Joël Robert all spent some time in the hot seat telling their tales. It was my first time meeting all of them in person, which was a bit surprising in itself.

Jean Turner | Contributor A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.