Farleigh Castle Vets MXDN:
The Vets Motocross Des Nations… A place where Maicos and Twin shocks roam the hills of south west England. A place where the era of the 2 strokes rises to its height and yet again they return to their rightful place as the dominant species. A place where nations, from across the globe, come to together to celebrate the rich history of our beloved sport. A place of magic. A place that most ordinary motocross fans have probably never heard about…..
The Vets Motocross Des Nations is quite simply one of the best dirt bike events in the entire world. It’s hard to explain why, it just is. It has everything needed to fulfil the dreams and desires of the most hard core MX fan. The sight of hundreds upon hundreds of immaculate and pristine motorcycle’s, from decades gone past, all ready for battle. The sound of six hundred 2 stroke engines being kicked into life at the break of dawn, it sends tingles down your spine. The smell of pre-mix floating in the early morning air. The atmosphere is like nothing else, Electric but yet so chilled; the entire population of the paddock is there simply to have blast at a dirt bike track. There’s a buzz in the air during the entire weekend. Nowhere else in the world can the average Joe line up on the gate alongside their childhood heroes, alongside current British Motocross and GP stars, nowhere in the world can the weekend warrior do battle with the legends of our sport, the men that inspired them. This is because every year countries from around the world send out teams of their most experienced, most accomplished and most beloved vet racers and champions to bang bars at one of the world’s most infamous motocross circuits for the VMXDN. The circuit is iconic, the circuit is classic, the circuit is legendary. The Farleigh castle track has served our sport since the 1930’s, even surviving world war II, in that time becoming, maybe the most iconic, but defiantly the oldest kick ass motocross track in the world. Still to this day (with the VMXDN) it provides us with the epic races and the timeless moments In MX history we all want to see, as it has done time and time again for the past 80 years. However the thing that makes this event so damn special is the memories. The new memories it creates and the old memories it brings back. And one thing is for sure, the 2012 Vets MXDN was not short of memories, old and new. Or any of the things that make this event one not to miss.
From the first drop of the gate to final wave of the chequered flag, the vintage bikes and their veteran pilots pushed the limits of themselves, their machines and the track, resulting in some stunning displays of riding and racing. However 10 separate classes, ranging from the over 50’s twin shock class to the EVO VMXDN class (all with well over 50 riders lined up), meant that the Farleigh Castle circuit quickly became outrageously gnarly, resulting in some stunning displays of dirt eating and bike dismounting, particularly in the case of AMA hero Ron Lechien. In the words of Jeff Perrett ‘Lechien had a crash like a bomb had gone off!’ This meant that team USA were a man down for the remainder of day 1. The rivals of the US team jumped at this opportunity to gain an advantage over the Americans, none more so than the Belgians and their team leader Werner DeWitt.
This was their time to become heroes, to be able to say that they were victorious over a team of some the most iconic names in American motocross, this was their time to win.
However, there was one man determined to defend the red white and blue and there was no way anyone was going to stop him. Ryan ‘Ryno’ Hughes was a man on a mission. It boiled down to the EVO VMXDN class, the main event; the reason thousands of fans surrounded the historic circuit, the big one. It was the 2nd of the 4 EVO VMXDN moto’s that were held over the weekend. All eyes were on Ryan Hughes, the American hero, and Werner DeWit, probably the fastest Vet and EVO rider on the planet and the biggest threat to Ryno and the Americans. The moment the pin was pulled, the moment the gates hit the floor the two went to battle.
After going back and forth several times in the opening laps, Hughes found a slight advantage over DeWitt, stretching out a small lead. It was at this point, that myself, the crowd and even DeWitt thought this race was well and truly over. We were oh so wrong. With 2 laps to go Hughes disappeared into the wooded section of the track with the lead and a 10 second advantage. He reappeared in 4th position with about a 15 second deficit to DeWitt, the new race leader. Ryno had gotten into some trouble in the technical wooded portion of the track, resulting with him hitting the deck. From this point on Hughes rode his 500cc Kawasaki like a bat out of hell; it was a sight to see. As the final lap started Ryno was around 5 seconds down on DeWitt after making some incredible moves to get back into second position. You could feel the excitement and anticipation start to build up around the circuit as the vast number of fans in attendance started to believe that just maybe they might witness something special, something great. And that’s just what happened. As the leading pair headed down the final descent for the final time they were bar to bar. Hughes bombed that hill faster than anyone had the entire weekend, as they negotiated the penultimate corner and pinned it down the final straight they were literally only inches apart, as the crowd roared Hughes and DeWitt eventually bounced of each other Sending DeWitt in the direction of the large Oak tree that marks the final corner. He managed just to manoeuvre around the tree but by this time Hughes had railed the outside line and was across the finish with both fists punching the skies. He went on to win 7 out of the 8 moto’s that he raced.
Out of all the races I have seen this year, from all the events that I have been to, this race at the VMXDN was by far the best. Like I said before, it’s hard to explain just how special the vets MXDN is, so whilst I was there I tried the best I could to capture the heart and soul of the event with my camera. Resulting in the following web edit:
And here’s a second edit. Ft. Team GB rider Jeff Perrett
There’s a moment in the video, around the 13 minute 25 second mark, that really captures and shows the true spirit of the vets MXDN. The 1st and 2nd place men share a handshake after such an intense race. You don’t really see that too often these days. And that really says it all for me, Of course like at any other sporting event in the world the results matter, winning matters, but at the VMXDN it takes a back seat to simply riding your dirt bike and having fun doing it.
Individual results can be found here – http://www.mylaps.com/results/showevent.jsp?id=838647
And for the record, the overall Team results for the EVO VMXDN was as follows: 1st Belgium B, 2nd USA, 3rd EVO UK. The overall results for the Twin shock VMXDN was as follows: 1st Belgium, 2nd Germany, 3rd Twin Shock UK.
Videos and article by: Toofast Max
Photos courtesy of: Haggis Hartman