by JohnNicholas on 08/17/2009
The silence of the morning mist was shattered by the bark of two-stroke engines coming to life. The smell of pre-mix filled the air and the braap of engines echoed through the hills of Unadilla. Years melted away.
Unadilla is steeped in motocross history. The first professional race was held in 1969 on a natural terrain course laid out on the rolling hills of New Berlin, NY. Since 2009 marked the 40th year of operation, the theme of the day was retro.
This race is an addition to the AMA National Motocross Series. It is an exhibition race, since two-strokes have all but been eliminated from Pro Racing this is an opportunity for fans to see them raced on the National level. Look for this series to grow in the future.
The feedback from fans and racers has been much better than expected. In fact almost every fan I spoke at Unadilla told me they missed two-strokes in Pro Racing.
For the third round of the FMF 2 Stroke Invitational many former pro racers were invited to participate. Jim Weinert 1974 & 1975 500cc National Champion and 1976 Supercross Champion, Danny LaPorte, 1979 500cc National Champion and 1982 World Champion joined John Dowd the 1998 125cc East Coast Supercross Champion for the Unadilla round. The field was rounded out with pro racers Mickey Kessler, Bruce Stratton, Greg Schnell, Todd DeHoop, Mike Leavitt, Carlo Coen, Dave Krantz, Pat Barton, Ken Napolitano, Mark Wundruck, Carter Gurnee and more. Every one of these guys raced as a professional, many competing at Unadilla during the Nationals, USGPs and Trans-AMA races.
While the racers were told that this was just a fun race, an exhibition for the fans, you could not tell from the intensity of the racers. Is it actually possible for a Pro racer to ever lose their competitive edge?
The race was a great deal of fun and a crowd favorite!! Fans were screaming from the sides of the track cheering on the two-strokes.
There was intense racing action on the first lap which resulted in Mike Leavitt and Todd DeHoop going down. Leavitt got up last and blasted his way to fourth place in only two laps! If not for this mishap Leavitt would have given Dowd a bit of a challenge.
The Jammer (Jim Weinert) was a rip he pulled the holeshot (by leaving the gate when the sign went sideways!) And cut the track a few times so John Dowd had to pass him a few times. On the white flag lap Dowd and Weinert raced side-by-side past the Mechanics Area. Dowd seemed to wheely alongside The Jammer as a show of respect to the former champion.
Danny LaPorte was flying on a borrowed RM250 that was not set up for him, but that did not keep him from giving his best during the race. Danny is a very classy guy.
1) John Dowd 16 Kawasaki PT250 Chaplin Kawasaki.com
2) Greg Schnell 63 Yamaha YZ250 Pant Saggin
3) Bruce Stratton 47 Honda CR250 Atomic
4) Mike Leavitt 282- Yamaha YZ250 - Zen Energy
5) Carlo Coen 67 Yamaha YZ250 RacePro USA.com
6) Carter Gurnee 165 Honda CR250 EVOMX.com
7) Mark Wundruck 729 Yamaha YZ250 Sussex Motosports
8) Todd DeHoop 10 Suzuki RM250 Fox Racing
9) Danny LaPorte 07 Suzuki RM250 FMF Racing
A fun little behind-the-scenes video.
The AlliSport video will be embedded here when it is archived on their site.
Special thanks to Alex Moroz from Legends and Heroes and Nick McCabe from MX Sports, without whose help, support and encouragement this report would not have been possible. Thank you.
Matt Wozney from MXPTV posted a photo album of the race. Check it out.