The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross travels to Budds Creek this weekend for Round 11 of the championship. Located an hour outside of Washington, DC, in Mechanicsville, MD, the facility has hosted a round of the championship for twenty-five years (twenty-six after this weekend). And while this weekend is certainly going to be huge—Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen are likely to clinch their respective titles—back in 2007, Budds hosted the Motocross of Nations. It was the first time since 1987 at Unadilla that the United States had hosted the event.
With Glen Helen confirmed to host the 2017 Motocross of Nations, and Budds Creek this weekend, for the List this week we decided to look back at Team USA’s efforts at the 2007 event.
All photos by Carl Stone.
Worlds collided at Budds Creek in 2007, as the Motocross of Nations visited American soil for the first time since 1987 at Unadilla.
The crowd was amazing. American fans were pumped on the first U.S.-hosted 'Nations in twenty years, but also European fans came in droves. Budds Creek's proximity to Washington D.C. made it easy tourist fodder, which can justify the trip even for the non-moto parts of the family. Everyone wins!
That's Wonder Wharthog turned Uncle Sam.
The start of something special. When Ryan Villopoto won Saturday's 250 qualifier, it was impressive. But that was just the beginning.
It wasn't just the qualifier! In both of his Sunday motos, RV started yarding (or, metering, to those using the metric system) the competition at a startling rate. Soon, he was establishing one of the greatest weekends in the history of this event.
Budds Creek went through some changes to prepare for the 'Nations, including a change to the start, which moved from the top of a hill into the valley in the center of the facility. That gives spectators a good view but also requires a tight, 180-degree turn. In GP parlance, the gates were set up for the 'Nations to heavily favor the inside, which makes Saturday's qualifying races for gate pick of extra importance. Team USA's Villopoto, Ricky Carmichael and Tim Ferry swept the qualifying races, which gave the team the inside gate for each moto. With Villopoto given the inside gate in his two motos, he got his 250F down to the inside and took off. Others, on the outside, weren't so lucky, such as David Guarneri (12) of Italy.
Carmichael was making the Budds MXoN his last race, and even though he only competed in half of the races in 2007, he won all of the Nationals he entered that year, so no one doubted he would be ready. And he was good at Budds, but not quite an amazing as usual. Turns out Ricky was starting to suffer from the effects of the Epstein-Barr virus, and the weekend was a bigger struggle than he let on.
By the way, a "struggle" for Carmichael was first-turn-crash to third in his first moto, and a win in moto three. That's where our standards are for RC! That first-turn crash in moto one cost the world the only chance to see RC vs. RV head to head. It's literally the only gate drop they ever did together. The mind wanders with the thoughts...
Rooting for Australia. Don't ask, but rooting is a special term to Aussies.
How Swede it is.
Get into it!
Here's your melting pot of fans. USA! USA!
Here's Villopoto using the inside gate to get his 250F to the front in moto one. You can see Carmichael (1) getting bumped around. The #31 Yamaha? That's Chad Reed! He was on an SX-only contract at the time but raced the Budds Creek National to get ready for MXoN. Always a gamer, Reed finished this moto in second.
Villopoto dominated the first moto on his 250F. He romped on everyone again in moto two. In the second moto, by the time he hit Henry Hill on the first lap, he already had a big lead. Yes, on the first lap! His Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Ben Townley, who hurt his shoulder in practice and had to miss the race, remarked from the infield, "That's a scary big lead for one lap."
Budds marked such a high-water mark for the industry in so many ways. No one knew the U.S. economy, for example, was about to go into the drink. Everything was all good, all the time in the late summer of 2007.
Villopoto ended up winning both of his motos overall, the first and only time anyone has done that on a small-bore bike. No one even came close to him.
Reedy up on the first-moto podium.
Carmichael came from down on the ground to third in moto one.
That's Team USA's Tim Ferry (3) down in the first turn of moto two. That was perhaps the only moment of worry for the American team, but Ferry rallied all the way back to fourth!
Weege and Mrs. Weege and Racer X alumnus "Bad" Billy Ursic. Weigandt added some interviews to flesh out Outdoor Channel's TV coverage of the race. Yes, Outdoor Channel. Since most people didn't have that channel and hence didn't see the race on TV, the event took on a "had to be there" vibe, which made it even cooler.
Signs of the times.
In the final moto, Team USA brought Carmichael and Ferry to the gate, and RC checked out and won easily. Yup, just win a Motocross of Nations moto outright for your last professional race. Carmichael was ridiculous.
Ferry took the bad gate in the third moto and started way back, but pulled all the way through for second, giving the American team a 1-2 finish. Just to add icing on the cake, Grant Langston, who had just won the 2007 AMA Motocross Championship, finished third. Riders based in the U.S. had a field day at this one.
Tony Cairoli was supposed to give Villopoto a run in the MX2 class after they battled the year before in England. But Italy's efforts were hurting from the start after their bikes got stuck in customs, which led to a mad scramble to get ready for the race. Then Tony suffered through crashes and bad starts. He went a lowly 37-14 in his two motos.
Team USA won, France took second and Belgium third. You can see a young Jeremy Van Horebeek with the Belgians. He's racing for the 2016 Team Belgium!
What's remarkable is the Villopoto, Carmichael and Ferry combo isn't just holding the team plaques, but also the individual overall win honors in each class.