Round 8 of 12
By John Basher

Phew, what a trip! There I was boarding a 737-airliner bound for Portland, Oregon for the annual running of the Washougal 125/250 pro National. I’m an eastern boy by birth and was raised in the District 4 region of New York. Seven of the 12 Nationals are within seven hours of my house, those being Troy, Unadilla, Binghamton, Steel City, Mount Morris, Budds Creek, and Southwick. Conservatively speaking, I’ve grown up in the mecca of professional motocross racing. I was there to see Ricky make his pro debut, to see Stefan Everts race at Unadilla, and to watch many championships wrapped up. But, even as I boast of my upbringing and going to nearly two-thirds of the Nationals, I was missing out on the Holy Grail. Sometimes I truly believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, because seeing a photograph of Mike LaRocco whipping his KX250 off a ski jump en route to winning the race in 1994 stuck in my head ever since I flipped open that page in Motocross Action. The track was hailed as the most spectacular and beautiful motocross circuit of the twelve-race stop. I wanted to go, I begged to go, I yearned to go, but my parents just couldn’t fathom stomaching the 2,460 mile trip. Then again, I really couldn’t sulk, because sitting in a car for 43 hours just didn’t sound fun to me. I would have to wait.


Flash back to reality and before I knew it I was walking out of the terminal and going to the track with Staff Photographer, and one of the premiere motocross and mountain biking photographers on the planet, John Ker. As we shot Saturday practice and began talking with the riders and mechanics, it looked as if Tim Ferry, Ricky Carmichael and Kevin Windham would be fighting for the win on Sunday. Ferry, who is the only other rider than Windham to beat Ricky outdoors, set the fastest lap time on Saturday with a 2:18:576. How close were Carmichael and Windham? Both riders were within two one-hundredths of a second with Kevin having the upper hand. After those three, Chad Reed was the next fastest with a 2:21:061 time. That’s almost three seconds off the pace! In the 125 class James Stewart (were you really surprised?) had the fastest lap time at 2:20:566, three seconds faster than Mike Brown.

125 MOTO 1

The stage was set for Sunday, and what a day it turned out to be. The weather was picturesque and the track was one of the best-prepped circuits I’ve ever seen. It was a moto haven for 80 lucky riders and almost nearly as exhilarating for the thousands of spectators on hand to witness some great racing. It was the 125 class that broke the Washougal silence first with Broc Sellards grabbing the holeshot with James Stewart in a close second. How long did it take Bubba to take the lead? It was less than a lap and even less than half a lap. By the time the riders dropped off the ski jump number 259 was leading the pack. As I stood next to a spectator I overheard him telling his friend that “the race is already over.” He couldn’t have been more right, because for the entire 15 laps James lead. If you haven’t seen James Stewart race in real time, I’ll give you an idea just how fast he was going; I had a tough time swinging my 300mm camera lens fast enough to catch him through the eyepiece. It was ridiculous. So while James was evading camera lenses across the track, Mike Brown, Broc Sellards, Ryan Hughes and Grant Langston were in a four-way battle for second. Points leader Brown took the runner-up position over Ryan Hughes and Grant Langston. When asked on the podium if team tactics were going to come into play, Hughes promptly replied that he was still in the points chase and wasn’t going to give any position up. Broc Sellards rounded out the top five.


The 125 class, as exciting as it is, really hasn’t been a question of who could win on any given Sunday, it’s more of a question as to how large of a margin Stewart will win by. The 250 class, on the other hand, which was once dominated by Ricky Carmichael now is a different story. Last weekend at Unadilla, Kevin Windham beat RC in both motos to end the Carmichael win streak and begin a new streak of his own. And then there’s the ever-present fact that K-Dub beat Ricky straight up both motos at Washougal two years ago. With momentum from last weekend and the confidence to win on the slick Washington track, it looked like Windham was already preparing his podium speech. But just wait one second, who can count out the most dominant rider in motocross history? You simply can’t, and Ricky still had the taste of Unadilla roost in his mouth from the loss in New York. When the gate finally dropped for the first 250 moto, many questions were answered. Kevin Windham grabbed the holeshot and began putting a little breathing room between his thumper and the #4 of Carmichael. Ricky in second coupled with Tim Ferry crashing on the first lap created not quite the dramatic race that could have occurred. Sure, Ricky was charging hard to stay with Windham, but he just couldn’t make any time on Kevin. But wait, the Washington native Larry Ward was in third off the start along with Paul Carpenter and Stephane Roncada. Four stroke champion Paul “Flex” Carpenter was sticking with Ward, but Roncada snuck by and also slipped by Larry “Right Hook” Ward. And then “The Admiral” Mike LaRocco picked off riders one by one until he found himself in third, once again showing that he still has the stuff to go amazingly fast. Roncada held on for fourth and Ward took fifth.


I could say that James Stewart holeshot and lead wire to wire, but it didn’t happen! Mike Brown started up front next to Craig Anderson and quickly overtook Ando. Meanwhile, Bubba started outside the top ten but came up to fifth by the end of the opening lap. By lap two James was up into second and by the culmination of the third lap Stewart was leading and quickly checking out. Okay, now I could stop writing about the second 125 moto, but something else happened! Second running Mike Brown was headed up a tabletop with a blind landing when he cross-rutted on the face and flew off the bike. Brown was dazed, but appeared to be fine. Coming off the tabletop, third place running Michael Byrne had enough time to miss Brown and get around. The same couldn’t be said for Ryan Hughes, who was jumping further off the tabletop than Byrne and tried to dodge Brown. Unfortunately, the dazed Brown walked towards the side of the track where Hughes intended on going. Ryan hit him in the leg and shoulder, sending both riders flying. For Brown, he was down and out on the side of the track while Hughes quickly remounted and got going again. Later I talked with Ryan and he had true discontent with the way the trackside flaggers handled the Brown crash and that it shouldn’t have ever happened. Because of the crash, Branden Jesseman passed Hughes and ended up third. Hughes took fourth and Grant Langston once again finished behind Ryan and took fifth.


The final moto of the day turned out to be an exciting snoozer. How can a moto be boring, yet action packed at the same time? To answer the question, Kevin Windham nailed the start once again and lead for the entire 15 laps. Then again, Ricky Carmichael got a bad start and Chad Reed got a good start. If there wasn’t going to be a Windham vs. Carmichael showdown, it would at least be a Reed vs. Carmichael showdown. And so it happened, because by the fourth lap Ricky was on the rear fender of #22. It took five and a half laps for RC to pass Reed, but Chad looked impressive and stayed within several of Ricky. Mike LaRocco once again charged to the front after getting a bad start and ended up fourth, with Kyle “Wrist Therapist” Lewis coming away with a fifth place.
And just how quickly the amazing day of motocross at Washougal began it ended almost as fast. As the big rigs were tearing down and packing up for the next stop at Millville, the low setting sun was staring me directly in the face. During the day I had witnessed the fastest 125 rider I’ve ever seen cut laps on one of the coolest racetracks I’ve ever seen. I was able to witness a new streak begin and the most dominant rider ever lose for the second time in a row. More importantly, I saw great racing on an amazing track that I had only dreamt of seeing when I was a kid. Was it all that I had imagined it to be? You bet, and for one day I was standing right next to thousands of other fans and rooting for the best riders in the world. Covered with sweat and dirt, I cracked a smile and thought, ‘This has got to be the best sport in the world.’


1. Kevin Windham?1-1?Hon
2. Ricky Carmichael?2-2?Hon
3. Mike Larocco?3-4?Hon
4. Chad Reed?6-3?Yam
5. Larry Ward?5-9?Hon
6. Kyle Lewis?10-5?Hon
7. David Vuillemin?12-6?Yam
8. Ernesto Fonseca?8-10?Hon
9. Stephane Roncada?4-15?Suz
10. Heath Voss?9-11?Yam


1. Ricky Carmichael?Hon?382
2. Kevin Windham?Hon?335
3. Chad Reed?Yam?290
4. Tim Ferry?Yam?260
5. Mike Larocco?Hon?236
6. David Vuillemin?Yam?203
7. John Dowd?KTM?177
8. Ezra Lusk?Kaw?177
9. Larry Ward?Hon?159
10. Ernesto Fonseca?Hon?159


1. James Stewart?1-1?Kaw
2. Ryan Hughes?3-4?KTM
3. Michael Byrne?7-2?Hon
4. Brendon Jesseman?6-3?Suz
5. Grant Langston?4-5?KTM
6. Ivan Tedesco?9-6?Yam
7. Michael Brandes?13-7?Yam
8. Mike Brown?2-29?Kaw
9. B. Gray?11-10?Suz
10. Andrew Short?15-8?Suz


1. Grant Langston?KTM?282
2. Mike Brown?Kaw?271
3. Ryan Hughes?KTM?254
4. James Stewart?Kaw?200
5. Michael Byrne?Hon?183
6. Brock Sellards?Yam?183
7. Ivan Tedesco?Yam?176
8. Eric Sorby?Kaw?160
9. C. Anderson?Yam?150
10. B. Metcalfe?KTM?149

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