Reason For Being

November 12, 2007 12:43pm

Monday, November 12, 2007Jonathan Beasley looked absolutely exhausted as he sat in his office chair in the two-story building right next to the finish line at Budds Creek. It was the Sunday morning of the 2007 Red Bull Motocross of Nations and Beasley was staring at his computer as it went online. He also had his checkbook out, ready to sign a big check out to Mark Barnett for reshaping his track. But before he did that, he wanted The Bomber to see him click on the MXoN countdown clock that had been up on for nearly a year.

“That clock has haunted me, kept me awake at night, and just given me too many nightmares,” laughed Beasley as he found the page just as the numbers were rolling down: 0 days, 0 minutes, 00 seconds.

Jonathan Beasley never made it a secret over the years that his goal in life was to host the MXoN at his southern Maryland racetrack. He loves Grand Prix motocross as much as he does the AMA motocross tour; he even lost his shirt a couple of times hosting 250cc Grand Prix events at Budds Creek when interest in the series was at an all-time low here in America. That led to some real bitterness when San Jacinto, California’s Competition Park—an unfinished facility with a notorious promoter—was named the site of the 2002 MXoN, marking the first time since 1987 that the race was held here. Of course, that race never happened.

Beasley, who often wears a Competition Park shirt at big races to remind himself and others of the perceived slight, finally got his wish when the FIM and race organizer Youthstream announced last year that they would try to bring the event back to the U.S. But the FIM and the Giuseppe Luongo-run Youthstream do things differently than the AMA and the National Promoters Group, and Beasley basically had to remake his entire motocross track, even though it’s been hosting AMA motocross and FIM Grand Prix races since 1989.

The process was ongoing when the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship visited the facility in June, leading race winner Ricky Carmichael to go off on the poor conditions—it was fast, hard, and dry—during the press conference. At that point, many wondered whether Beasley, one of the most enthusiastic moto people on the planet, had the ability to get it all done in time. If he didn’t, the event might suffer the same fate as the stillborn Competition Park race—the darkest day in the event’s sixty-one-year history. Beasley was devastated that the GOAT chose to rip his track, but he also vowed to get it right for the MXoN.

Concerns grew even more when Beasley parted ways with some of his key people after the national. There was also some worry that he might be running out of money, as Youthstream commands quite a large sum for the initial rights to the event, takes almost all of the sponsorship and TV money, and grabs a considerable slice from each ticket sold. With time running out to complete the makeover, many of Beasley’s fellow NPG promoters jumped in to help out with equipment and manpower.

By the time the various racing nations of the motocross world began to show up en masse in our nation’s capital, Beasley and Budds Creek were ready and waiting. And when that clock hit zero, he was the proudest man on the planet, and rightfully so.

The event was not without some real hiccups. So many people flooded into the place that their borrowed or rented or previously owned motor homes were parked almost a mile away from the track in some cases, and since all pit bikes, golf carts, and other vehicles were banned, getting around the massive facility was a chore. There were also problems with access, as foot traffic to the infield was directed into a single tunnel under what’s known as Henry Hill. It made for a chaotic, crowded weekend, but it was well worth it to be a part of motocross history.

In the end, Budds Creek had a massive crowd—upward of 40,000 on the day of the race—and the Barnett-built track earned a much better review that the one riders saw at the Budds Creek National in June. The Ricky Carmichael-led Monster Energy Team USA won, and Ryan Villopoto established himself as the latest American motocross hero with two dominant rides.

We can expect the Motocross of Nations to return to the U.S. much sooner than the twenty years it took it to come back here this time. We owe it all to Jonathan Beasley, who dreamed big enough to take on an event of this magnitude, then somehow made it all happen.