450 Words: High Point

May 29, 2007 12:22pm

I remember seeing Ricky Carmichael for the first time back in 1994 at the High Point Team Green Spring National, which is the amateur day before the pro national. It’s funny though, because seeing him back then isn’t much different than today. He was on a super-trick, super-clean Team Green-supported Kawasaki KX80, running #167. He was decked out in brand new Fox gear, with that very cool custom Fox lettering on his chest protector and Team Green Kawasaki logos sewn on the back of his pants. He also had a very trick custom-painted helmet, putting the final touch on a bad-ass appearance. Just seeing him sit in the staging area invoked fear in every kid on an 80cc machine, including myself.

Ricky Carmichael at High Point, circa 1994

photo: Davey Coombs

Fast forward some 14 years later. Carmichael is still on a super-trick bike, wearing flashy Fox gear with a cool helmet. And seeing him sitting in the staging area still invokes fear in his competition. Some things never change.

But the High Point track has changed throughout those 14 years, and RC has adapted. The old double-double leading up to the finish line dubbed “Bradshaw Boulevard” is now gone, replaced by a straightaway which is now used as the mechanic’s area. It also allows Carmichael to build up some real speed before launching his RM-Z450 to the moon.

You can say that High Point has been good to Carmichael, whose win on Sunday was his sixth straight in the premier class on the Holbert Family farm. He also won the Lites class here in 1998 and ’99, bringing his High Point win grand total to eight.

But Carmichael has been good to High Point, as well. Any time he could promote motocross in this area, he did. Remember back in 2003 when there was a rumor circulating that High Point was getting axed from the AMA Motocross schedule? After another win that year, RC grabbed a “Save High Point” banner from Jeff Stanton and held it up on his victory lap, showing the diehard motocross fans exactly what his feelings were regarding those rumors. Four years later and High Point is still thriving.

But 2007 was bittersweet for every motocross fan in attendance at High Point. Carmichael put on a masterful display of riding on Sunday, his 1-1 performance making even though the most seasoned motocross fan drop his jaw in awe of the sheer talent and speed of the GOAT. RC fan or not, he has been such a major component in all of our Memorial Day Weekends over the past decade that he almost feels like he’s part of your family. It’s hard to imagine what it’ll be like with him not racing there in 2008.
And it’s nice to know that RC is appreciative of High Point fans, as he told Steve Bruhn in today’s Tuesday Conversation, “The fans here are great people, they really are.”

Thanks for the memories, RC.