LOOKING BACK AT SADDLEBACK PARK FROM 37 YEARS AGO
I found this set of CMC results from February 1982 in “Goggle Images.” I made my first trip to Saddleback just before it closed in 1984 (as a 12-year-old kid from Kansas who bugged his parents so much that they gave in and drove me up to the track to watch). Because of finding this, after 37 years, I was intrigued by some of the names in the results. I thought I would ask the MXA wrecking crew to shed some light on the Saddleback guys named here—because I saw that several MXA guys were in the results.
Actually we’ve seen this results sheet before (and we just don’t mean on February 21, 1982, but on both ProRide and MXA). It’s not that the MXA wrecking crew remembers this exact race, but we do have fond memories of the place and the people who raced there. We have met so many people over the years who took a day off from their California vacation to make a trip to Saddleback Park. It was a magical place—and we are glad to help.
Here is a breakdown of some of the people named: Tony Alessi got third in the mini Junior class. He would go on to become the father of Mike and Jeff Alessi. Before the kids were on the fast track to stardom, Tony not only raced all the time but dabbled in race announcing.
Mark Toyama and BMX star Steve Skibell went 1-2 in the mini intermediates.
Todd Campbell will go down in history as the first racer to win a 125cc Supercross race, when he won the 125 West at Anaheim Stadium on January 26, 1985. He beat Tyson Vohland, Trampas Parker, Bobby Moore and Brian Manley.
Paul Denis, Kurtie Henricksen and Todd Campbell were the mini pros. Paul was a minicycle superstar who never made a dent in the pro ranks. Unfortunately, Paul Denis passed away recently from heart issues. Kurt currently runs a motocross school and his father, Ron, still runs races just like he did when he was the head honcho at the NMA. Todd Campbell had a good local pro career.
Jim Perry is the current Yamaha team manager but these could be results for his brother John Perry, who also raced at Saddleback and was the event coordinator for the AMA 250/450 Nationals in 2009. Jimmy (or John) was 19th in the 125 Junior class. It must kill them that Pro Circuit buddy Bones Bacon was fifth on a Husqvarna 125 (Bones real name is Jim).
REM promoter Frank Thomason was fifth in the 500 Junior class and he is still using his 551 number today. Today, Frank Thomason is the REM Glen Helen promoter. 37 years ago he was a 500 Junior.
Ty Swartz was third in the 125 Intermediate class and MXA’s Jody Weisel was eighth. Both still race today. Jody was already 35 years old in 1982. Jody was also racing the Vet Pro class (and would win the CMC Number One plate in 1984 ).Most of the 125 Intrmediates from 1982 are still racing today—including Gary Renko, Michelle Horton, Rob Engel,
Joe “Meltdown” Melton finished second in the 250 Juniors. Today, Joe Melton is an airline pilot and works as a Yamaha test rider in his spare time.
Mike Beier won the 125 Pro class. Beier, a top top privateer in the 125 Nationals, would go on to do some amazing things in Europe in beach races and Hardcross events. Today, he owns Asterisk knee braces in Corona, California.
Doug O’Donnell was third in the 125 Pro class. Doug was a solid racer and MXA test rider who crashed at Saddleback and was paralyzed from the waist down a few years later. He went to rehab, and three weeks later the feeling came back to his legs and he walked out of rehab. He never raced again (he said he didn’t want to push his luck).
How many of these Saddleback Specialists can you name? This is the Vet Pro class. The front three guys (from left to right) are Marino Bastionell (34), Jody Weisel (JT chest protector) and Lance Moorewood (HRP lightning bolt jersey). Number 13 (white numbers in the center of the pack) is Jim Beltnick, the Saddleback Saturday promoter.
Doug Dubach was beaten by Ray Tetherton for 12th place in the 125 Pro class. Doctor D claims that his bad finish back in 1982 was a DNF. Ray worked at Team Suzuki for decades and Doug Dubach would be winning Supercross races in a few short years (1991 San Jose Supercross). Dubach still races today and owns DR.D (and is the 25-time World Vet Champion).
Matt Tedder was third in the 250 Pro class. Matt won the Over-50 crown at Loretta Lynn’s three times.
Monte Roy was 17th in the 250 Pro class and his brother Jimmy was fourth in the 500 Pro class. The Roy brothers, Jimmy and Monte were the basis for Jimmy and Monte Floyd in many Jody’s Box columns.
There are a lot of other Saddleback guys: red-headed Thayne Zito, nice guy Rusty Hannah, Steve Pfaff, Jeff Scott, Tony Gomez, Scott Conaway, Glen Senecal, Frank Steiner, Bruce McDougal and Carl Gazafy.