AMA Toyota MX Souvenir Yearbook Offers History Lesson
Each year, in coordination with the NPG, the staff at Racer X Illustrated produces the official Souvenir Yearbook of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF. Available for $5 at each race, the Souvenir Yearbook is the ultimate fan guide, packed with 164 pages of articles, rider bios, photos, event information, series stats and records.
The following is an article from the ’08 Souvenir Yearbook, written by Supercross LIVE! announcer Jason Weigandt:
The AMA Toyota Motocross Championships have been in existence since April 16, 1972. That’s the day a motocross track outside of Atlanta held the first stand-alone AMA National, with a couple of New Yorkers on CZ motorcycles—Barry Higgins and Sonny DeFeo—captured the 500cc and 250cc classes, respectively. The race barely registered a blip on the international motocross scene, as the Europe-based Grand Prix tour was far and away the leader in talent and prestige.
Within a generation, that would change. Since those humble beginnings, the series has grown by leaps and bounds. With a huge assist from the American invention known as Supercross (which coincidentally was born on July 8 of that same year in the Los Angeles Coliseum) the motocross industry in this country is far bigger and more prestigious than that of any other country or continent in the world.
The credit goes to the great riders—from Bob Hannah to Ricky Carmichael—who have led the way, as well as the enthusiastic fans and motocross industry that supports AMA Toyota Motocross. And then there are the organizers of the series, a collective group of 12 race promoters known as the National Promoters Group (NPG). Since 1998, these promoters have worked together with the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) to present a unified series, with a consistent look and feel to all of the races while also preserving what makes each event unique.
Before 1998, the series worked well, but not with the same consistency it has now. The calendar of events was subject to change every weekend, and the learning curve was steep, as new promoters and race tracks came in and out of the loose fold. For example, of the eight rounds that were on that inaugural 1972 schedule, only one—the Hangtown Motocross Classic—is still on the schedule, though the Dirt Diggers Club now holds the race at a different location outside Sacramento, CA.
Now there is great consistency to the series, but not without some changes. In the last four years both Colorado and Texas – two states that held AMA Motocross races in the seventies and eighties 1980s – returned to the schedule (and word has it that the Southeast, sight of that very first national 36 years ago, will also be back on the schedule within the next year or two). David Clabaugh’s Thunder Valley, on the side of a mountain in Lakewood, Colorado, and Tony Miller’s Freestone County MX below Dallas have both been welcomed with open arms by the riders, the industry, and their new associates in the NPG.
Looking at the 2008 schedule, you obviously see some big changes as far as dates are concerned. For instance, Glen Helen jumped from being the grand finale in September all the way to being the series-opener in May, and the new race in Texas went from being towards the end of the schedule to the very beginning. After 30 years High Point Raceway moved off it’s Memorial Day weekend date to Father’s Day in June, which traditionally meant Budds Creek in Maryland.
Why all of the changes? Working together with the teams and the AMA, the NPG decided to work on the travel pattern, making it easier and less expensive for the teams; they also hoped to shorten the length of time it takes to get all 12 races in, as everyone is already taxed by the grind of the 17-round Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, which is squeezed in between the first Saturday of January and the first of May.
Beyond that, each of the 12 tracks have spent the last couple of years on upgrade mode, trying to make the experience of attending the AMA Toyota Motocross Championships as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. The series not only has the best motocross racers in the world, but the best fans as well. And the next few years promises even more changes as the AMA welcomes the Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG) to all of their AMA Pro Racing disciplines.
All of the members of the NPG are loyal members of the AMA, some from Day One, like the Robinson family at Unadilla, the Ritchies of Red Bud, the Huffmans at Washougal, the Coombs family (High Point and Steel City), and the Motocross 338 club of Southwick—all of whom also host a considerable amount of local and regional events at their national facilities. Others, like Jonathan Beasley (Budds Creek), Bud Feldkamp (Glen Helen) and John & Greta Martin of Spring Creek in Millville, MN, have been working hard to produce quality motocross since they joined the series.
Add up all of the members of the NPG and you have a solid group of proud, competitive promoters who enjoy trying to one-up the rest every year, whether it’s adding new amenities to their facilities or cool new track features to challenge the riders. They work at outdoing one another, while also working closely together by attending their fellow promoters’ events and pitching in wherever they might be needed (so don’t be surprised to see Tim Coombs out working on lights in Colorado, or Southwick’s Ralph Pettillo out on the infield at Spring Creek). That collective desire of the NPG members to work together and move AMA Toyota Motocross forward is what makes this the best motocross series in the world—and they’re just getting started!
The 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF begins on May 24-25 in San Bernardino, Calif.
Interview opportunities are available to the media by contacting AMA Toyota Motocross Championship media coordinator Brandon Short via email at Media@MXNationals.com or by phone at 951-203-2605.
For more information on the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship, presented by FMF, log on to www.amamotocross.com for live timing and scoring at @theWireLIVE!. Racer X Illustrated will host a new and improved webcast on www.motocross.com, with live racing action hosted by Jason Weigandt. The Racer X Motocross Show on Motocross.com has also been added on Saturday night of each race weekend, featuring practice footage and interviews taken earlier in the day.
Credential requests for each round of the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF must be submitted via email to Media@MXNationals.com three weeks prior to the race. Media members interested in interviews with the riders of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF should contact Brandon at 951-203-2605 or email Media@MXNationals.com.
About the National Promoters Group (NPG)
The National Promoters Group (NPG) comprises 12 individual promoters of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF which sanctions outdoor motocross events throughout the United States, and remains the Nation's premier outdoor motocross championship series. NPG's mission is to raise awareness of motocross racing through the production of professional championship racing events nationwide.
About AMA Racing
AMA Racing is the competition arm of the American Motorcyclist Association and is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its professional properties include the Monster Energy® AMA Supercross Series, an FIM World Championship, the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Flat Track Championship, the AMA Supermoto Championship and the AMA Pro ATV Championship. In amateur and pro-am competition, AMA Racing sanctions over 4000 events in 24 different disciplines and supports over 110 thousand active members. For more information about professional racing, visit www.amaproracing.com. Accredited media outlets can also access an on line Press Room at www.amaproracing.com/pressroom. For amateur racing information visit www.amadirectlink.com/amrace/amasports.asp.