Leaving my hotel on Sunday morning, I caught this local news report on Zach Osborne taking a solid third in the first 250 moto at Muddy Creek. From Abingdon, Virginia (about 30 minutes from Muddy Creek), Osborne was the local-est of local riders on the day, so the hometown crowd was focused on him.
Zach was the only local in regular people terms. But in motocross terms, there were a ton of local products up front.
“I rode here quite a bit,” said Jordon Smith, who went 4-6 for fourth overall in the 250s, a career best. “My house is about three hours away from here. I grew up racing here with Cooper [Webb] and [Shane] McElrath quite a bit. Shane was a little bit older than me and we ended up becoming pretty good friends, from here really. It’s pretty cool to all be in the top five and I think at one point were all in the top three overall!”
McElrath and Webb have their names listed on the billboards that line the entrance to the track, thanks to multiple successes in the popular Mega Series, which revolves around Muddy Creek, as amateurs. Broc Tickle, born and raised in North Carolina, also raced plenty of Mega Series races here. He went out and logged his best outdoor performance in years with third overall. Throw in Osborne’s 3-10 for sixth (in the 250 class) with Smith, Webb, McElrath and Tickle, and Muddy Creek fans saw five riders they grew up watching become contenders for moto wins.
“It was like amateur days, Shane and I,” said Webb. “We were battling here at this track on 50s so it’s pretty cool to have two North Carolina boys 1-2.”
“I grew up racing Cooper here,” said McElrath. “It was fun. We’d go back and forth when we were kids here, no one was consistently first. So we’ve raced here a lot…I guess that means I wasn’t pumped to see it was him behind me! But yeah, our whole family was here and Cooper and I probably know most of the fans out there. So to do this at our home track is pretty cool.”
Not since Southwick’s glory days (which are scheduled to begin anew in two weeks) have we seen a track holding so much favor for local riders. Other tracks like Washougal have had great moments, and Minnesota is having a run as well, but with so much talent now filling the ranks from the Southeast, Muddy Creek might become the track with the most local flavor near the front. In other words, it was surprising to see Tickle with his first podium since 2012, or McElrath running away with the lead in moto two, but maybe it wasn’t. These guys know how to rider here, and had Joey Savatgy not launched a late-race charge to pick up a few spots and move into second overall, the Webb/McElrath/Smith trio would have swept the overall podium in the 250s.
“If you had told us ten years ago that we’d all be here for a pro race and all in the top three overall we probably would have laughed at each other,” says Smith. “It’s pretty cool!”