Red Bull A Day in the Dirt Motocross Grand Prix 14 at Pala Raceway
It’s tough to explain to someone who has never been to the annual Day in the Dirt event what the vibe is like. It certainly isn’t your typical local motocross race. It isn’t a standard grand prix. It isn’t a giant outdoor house party. But it is definitely a mix of all those things. The dress code is casual, and the only rule is 'come to have fun.' Although, a good suggestion if you haven’t been riding much would be to bring some gauze and Neosporin for the blisters on your hands.
The 2011 event at Pala Raceway was a huge success. It’s hard to believe the current unemployment numbers when you drive into the sea of motorhomes and trailers encircling the track. For the Troy Lee Designs / Lucas Oil / Red Bull / Honda riders, things couldn’t have gone much better. On Saturday, Christian Craig teamed up with his manager, Tyler Keefe, to win the Stunt GP team race. It was a good start to the weekend.
“This race is so much fun,” said Craig of his first DITD experience. “It’s a really laid back environment but the racing is competitive. I was stoked to win with TK today.”
That night, Red Bull hosted a party in what became the quad of the Troy Lee Designs / Red Bull campus. While nobody went streaking, there was some good music, good drinks and good times.
Sunday’s lineup included the much anticipated Moto-A-Go-Go team race. The roster was stacked with names like Jeff Ward, Ken Roczen, Ryan Sipes, Christian Craig, Travis Baker, Grant Langston and many, many more. Craig and Keefe teamed up once again and jumped out to an early lead ahead of Roczen and Langston. Former TLD team rider and manager, David Pingree was partnered with Jimmy Albertson (another former team rider) and the duo started the race with a first turn crash. But for the next 60 minutes, they picked riders off one at a time until they were right in the hunt at the end of the race. When the checkers flew, Pingree and Albertson had made their way into the lead.
“I’m not saying this was the race of the century or anything, I’m not crazy, but it’s easily near the top in this decade,” joked Pingree. “It was a blast to team up with my buddy Jimmy Albertson again. I’ve been trying to win this event for at least six or seven years and together he and I finally got it done. It feels good. Hey, don’t we win a car or something?”
The tricked-out Oldsmobile actually went to the Coup De Grace winner, but nice try Ping.
Over the course of the weekend, there are always stars that show up for some laps. The King of Supercross, Jeremy McGrath, was there competing during Saturday's events. Rick Johnson, who has been a big part of DITD since the beginning, entered several races. Mountain bike hero Cam Zink and action sports icon Shaun Palmer both rode several classes as well. Another famous face in the pits and on the track was Badass Award winner Doug Henry. Doug was riding a bike fitted with a roll cage and going faster than a lot of guys with full use of their legs. Doug is amazing. Between all of these guys there were more championships being represented on the track than at any other race in history. It was a good weekend to be an autograph collector.
It never seems like Kenny Alexander, Troy Lee, and the rest of the crew that work tirelessly to put this event on could make it any better; and yet, each year they manage to do just that. If you missed this year’s edition of the Red Bull Day in the Dirt, mark it on you calendar for 2012. The weather is amazing, the racing is a blast, and the event is fun for the whole family. If you raced this year, thanks for coming, and remember: The blisters hurt the worst the first time you get in the shower.