by Chris Barker on 09/03/2008
Where to start?
OK You have guessed it I have a passion for 2 strokes, and having raced them for many years and being involved in the MX industry since 1992. I was seeing a dramatic change taking place, the new breed of oversized and overly noisy 4st’s had been given such an unfair advantage class wise it almost destroyed the humble 125 especially, add to this the huge costs involved in their up-keep things were changing and a change I was not happy with, so after a few beers in the pub one night with some fellow 125 riders I set about making a proper 125cc class.
It still makes me smile when I see pictures and results saying 125 class winner, only to see a guy on a 250f !! What a joke ! I concentrated on the 125 as this class was hardest hit, but the 250’s where on the shortlist too so time was running out, I had to come up with a plan to give 2st racers some classic barbanging action and also deliver to the host venues a good turnout to make it profitable for them. The plan was the best circuits would attract the best riders and the crowds would follow.
To be honest I wasn’t sure if I was the only one that felt like this but I thought about it more and more and decided to approach some sponsors and get this thing rolling. I sent out proposals to all the companies that would, and could be effected by the lack of 2st sales, Craig Elwell from DEP Pipes was the first sponsor to get back to me with a ‘yes’, he was as enthusiastic as myself, ‘‘ Great idea’’! And so the DEP 125 mx series was born…
Following DEP there were soon other sponsors, all willing to give prizes and support to my idea and things started to roll, it was strange to be approached by sponsors who had heard through the MX grapevine that there was a 125cc class planned, everyone seemed to want just that but no one had done anything about it. I could soon tell this was going to work, so it was time to approach the clubs!
As you are aware we were privileged to race on some of the best tracks in the country and this is not by luck, as a rider I knew what its like travelling for 4 or 5 hours only to be greeted by a goat-track. I set about getting great venues and I knew the riders would come, so it was time to advertise this series !
It took me a year of planning and a decent amount of my savings to finally announce a national 125 2st series, with experts and junior riders we travelled the country entertaining spectators, clubs and even ourselves, I really do owe all those riders who believed in me and joined in and helped me establish the series and give it the credibility it deserves, the guys from 2005/6 really do need a big THANK YOU
At the Hawkstone Park event on June 26th 2005 Richard Fitch was tragically killed racing. He was a close friend, a lad I had watched grow up, loved and admired. I lost a real buddy. It was at that point that I did not think the Series could continue, it took a lot of thought and a good deal of discussion with Chris and Gill, Richards parents and I’m happy we continued for obvious reasons
“ I don’t know if that tragic accident changed something at the DEP but all our riders became friends and an unusual camaraderie was born, an atmosphere that so many people have commented on as we travelled the UK and one which I hope will always continue. In fact my mission was and still is, to promote a fun, fair and friendly series.”
The 2006 & 2007 series proved to be even more of a success than the first year. The racing was getting faster and more exciting with many clubs noticing an increase in interest, from other riders who were finding out the 4st way is very expensive, and from advertisers who wanted in on this growing series, at last our car parks where full again with people who just wanted to watch & hear the 2 strokes again. As the Series became more popular it obviously became a lot harder work for me, there were some issues during this season that for me ‘’someone that just wanted to see a full line up of 2 strokes on the gate’’ and ‘’for riders to go and enjoy’’ it began to take its toll on me.. With trying to run my business and the DEP series taking up more and more time and effort I knew it was very unlikely I would be able to continue for 2007-2008 without some real help!
Up stepped the SX and MX promoter Matt Bates, no-one wanted to see the Series end, especially not me and when he offered to help take the Series further with the help of Red bull and a host of big corporate sponsors, that was good enough for me!!! I was pretty surprised when he asked me to stay and be involved but it’s a great opportunity and everyone knows I would have still been there sitting outside my caravan trying to get the barbecue fired and watching the racing even if I hadn’t have carried on organising it.
2007 see a whole new deal for the 2st series as we have included classes for 250cc + machines, with all the coverage over the last couple of years the interest is awesome, Im stoked it’s a proper British Championship as well, its something our riders deserve. KTM and Yamaha have put in big bucks as they still sell plenty of 2st over here. Infact KTM gave me machinery to help 2 riders for 08 and thus team 125mx.com was born. So you see I really can’t leave it alone, my business is working on and prepping mx bikes and I spend all my spare time working on our team bikes.
I really would like to thank everyone that made this Series happen, all the sponsors that took that risk when I first approached them, I hope your happy with how it turned out and especially Craig from DEP for all of his help and motivation. My wife Karen and daughter Karianne. Graham Milne from TMX for his constant support. The clubs that let us run at their events, but most of all the riders for supporting this Series and making it the Series it has become.
2st sales here in the UK are rising again and used 4sts’ are worthless, 2st classes are now at every federation in the UK and we can race most weekends, also the FIM have announced that schoolboy racing will be 2st only from 2010 so there is a GOD and he mixes his gas too !