If it weren’t for pictures, documented history would be much more difficult to recall. Scholars draw historical significance from books. Motocross riders are, on the whole, visual beings. We have a way of remembering the most intricate details of a certain event or bike or even rider by gazing upon an image. I know some moto-heads who can nail all three — person, place and machine — after seeing a 40-year-old photo for 3 seconds. The mind is unreal.
Do you remember the Saddleback Massacre? The Magoo Double Jump? Let Broc Bye? How about Jeremy McGrath’s first Supercross win? Those moments in time were captured by photographers. So, while you might have gone to soccer practice instead of Saddleback Park in 1981 or your parents didn’t want to take the Winnebago to Las Vegas on March 17, 1990, to witness “The King of Supercross” win his first main event, don’t worry. Somewhere out there a photo exists of the historic day. On an individual level, I’m sure you have a fair share of Polaroids, 3×5 prints, digital photos or cell phone snaps of your own special memories. It’s amazing how each moment rushes back into the memory bank upon gazing at photos.
THERE’S A MEASURABLE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IMPORTANT AND ICONIC. JOE ROSENTHAL’S PHOTO OF U.S. TROOPS RAISING THE AMERICAN FLAG AT IWO JIMA DURING WORLD WAR II IS ICONINC. IT WILL LIVE ON FOREVER. CONVERSELY, A PICTURE OF KEN ROCZEN SCRUBBING A TRIPLE DOESN’T EXACTLY MOVE THE NEEDLE.
Of course, some photos are more noteworthy than others. There’s a measurable difference between important and iconic. Joe Rosenthal’s photo of U.S. troops raising the American flag at Iwo Jima during World War II is iconic. It will live on forever. Conversely, a picture of Ken Roczen scrubbing a triple doesn’t exactly move the needle. Race photographers aren’t dodging bullets on the front lines and capturing images that change the tide of society.
Even so, motocross has its moments. Motocross may be small compared to stick-and-ball sports, but motocross is supported by a passionate collective who live and breathe it. The hundreds of thousands of images documenting motocross support that statement. I’m happy to be a part of something so real.
As for the image at the top of the page, what do you know about it? Can you name the rider, year and location? The photo is old enough that it should stump any newbie motocross fans. Most people will easily know the rider’s name (Target, anyone?). From there the year shouldn’t be hard to tell. However, the location might stump you. Here’s the whole story.
One Industries made a big splash in 2008 by unveiling a line of motocross gear. They inked Ryan Dungey to a long-term deal after Dungey’s original Answer gear deal was up. To put the icing on the cake, One Industries invited the media out to Superstition Mountain, outside of El Centro, California, for their gear launch on November 7, 2008. In a surprise move, One Industries choppered Dungey in for the day to ride with the assembled media. If you’ve ridden in that area, then you know there’s a sizable sand pit. The sand was deep enough to carve lines in, but not deep enough to require a paddle tire (a la Glamis). Dungey had a good time ripping through the sand on his factory Makita Suzuki RM-Z250. It was a fun day for all, and the above photo documents that moment in time.
The image may not be iconic, but it is interesting nonetheless—if only because it is record of something else. Something unexpected. Something that you couldn’t believe that a company could be so stupid to do. What was it?
The photo above shows One Industries ad announcing the signing of Jason Lawrence. But, when One Industries signed Jason Lawrence to a clothing deal they didn’t take into account that Ryan Dungey wouldn’t want to be associated in any way with J-Law. Dungey immediately wanted out of his One Industries contract and, amazingly, had a clause that made that possible. He was snapped up by Fox Racing and rode for them until he retired . As for One Industries and Jason Lawrence, well that was not a match made in heaven for either one.
So, enjoy the photo of Ryan Dungey on this one day back in November of 2008. It’s not iconic—just ironic.