Famous regional MX event was born from innovative promoter Gene Ritchie’s need to hold a race despite unfavorable conditions on the legendary Red Bud track
BUCHANAN, Mich. , (Oct. 12, 2006) – Before the dirt bikes around the Midwest are prepped and stored for the winter in the pole barns where the snowmobiles are now sitting, and with time for aching muscles to heal before deer season opens, this weekend’s running of the annual Throttle Jockey Grass Race @ Red Bud marks a passage of time in the powerful motocross racer-producing region of Michigan.
Names like Burleson, Stanton, LaRocco and Wey are all synonymous with the late season classic run on the grounds of promoter Gene Ritchie’s property – a true motocross gem nestled into the gently rolling glacial moraine hills of southwestern
This weekend, as usual for the October event, the weather may be less than desirable. But, had it not been for similar conditions back in mid 1980s, RedBud’s Grass Race may never have come about.
“It was a horrible weekend and we had a qualifier race going with OEM contingencies, so my dad couldn’t really cancel,” said RedBud’s Amy Ritchie. “The track wasn’t rideable –
this was before the days of the roller and other mud maintenance tricks Tim (Ritchie) has since learned.”
So “Mean Gene” laid the track out in the field adjacent to the southeastern portion of the AMA National track – in the area now reserved for pro pit rental cars on the Monster Energy/Kawasaki Pro MX National weekend.
“The grass track was ideal under the worst conditions and the race went off without a hitch,” recalled Amy Ritchie. “In fact, the riders really enjoyed the change, so we just decided to adopt the field and incorporate it into the annual schedule. The Grass Race has become our traditional season-ending event.”
Added brother and track designer Tim Ritchie: “It’s 1.1 miles of mad grass moto bliss that’s different each year – and we’re running the pro track section backwards again.” (That’s right, UP the famous Ski Jump!)
In addition to the aforementioned ‘recognizable’ motocross names, regional legends such Connie Feist (a timeless Grass Race champion), Larry Witmer (doubles as the track announcer between his motos), John Grewe and Lisa Akin-Wagner are among those who’ve laid down some memorable racing lines for the fans.
Also, what’s pretty much recognized as one of the original ‘Pit Bike’ races is the Grass Race’s annual XR Championship. This (supposedly) just-for-fun event on the cusp of Halloween combines XR75 and XR80 mini bike racing with Trick-or-Treat costumes. Names like Stanton , LaRocco, Wagner, Akin-Wagner, Borcherding, Flickinger and Sodetz have all contested the XR Championship in the past. In fact, LaRocco was once awarded a custom pumpkin light for his XR Championship podium finish – the weekend after winning $100,000 at the US Open!
Bringing competitors back to the roots of the sport, the Grass Race emulates how tracks used to look – natural terrain churned black for a weekend by hundreds of knobby tires. Racing memories laid to rest over the winter months return as new grass in the spring. The final weekend of competition for long-standing rivalries in the region that culminates in a party of sorts, celebrating the great sport of motocross.
“It’s the perfect old school motocross tribute and a great way to end the season of racing at RedBud,” said Amy Ritchie.
Grass Race Information
What: Annual Throttle Jockey Grass Race @ RedBud
When: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 14-15
Time: Racing begins at 8 a.m. both days
Where: RedBud Track & Trail, Buchanan ,
New Format: Pro Track Saturday and Grass Race Sunday (ATVs welcome both days); Pee Wee track races both days.
Prizes: Throttle Jockey, MechanixWear, No-Toil, BBR and Moto Tees
XR Championship: XR 75 or 80 frame, engine and wheels. All mods are legal! Twin and Single shock classes. Qualifiers, if needed, will run on Sunday morning.
Further information: www.redbudmx.com