Racing the Hangtown 125 Invitational
A few weeks back we took a much needed break to go do some amateur racing during Hangtown National week. Amateur Day at Hangtown is always a fun time, with practice taking place Thursday before racing on Friday. We've camped out the last few years on Friday to be there bright and early to watch the pros duke it out on Saturday, and there's not much better than finishing your amateur motos and knowing that you get to watch the best in the business tear up the very same track the next morning. This race always provides a challenging track that gets extremely rough (we were fortunate enough to be in the very last moto Friday afternoon. . .), and really gives you an opportunity to test yourself on something much tougher than your average local track.
The 3DP YZ awaiting practice on Thursday morning
Racing went well overall, we bumped up to the B class this year and promptly got left in the dust during both 250B motos, however we weren't last and we got a taste of what it takes to run that kind of pace so that's a positive to take away, right? The 25+ B class motos went much better, with 1-1 moto scores giving us the win! The 3DP YZ250 is handling much better after some significant suspension upgrades and really got put to the test on this track, we were revalving and testing suspension as late as Tuesday night so it was a little bit of a rush to say the least. In the end, it was a fun day of racing on a rough and challenging track, but unlike years past the fun wasn’t quite over yet.
This year, we were lucky enough to be selected to run in the 125 invitational race that ran on Saturday just before the first pro motos! It has always been a dream of ours to race a pro national, but if we’re being realistic we’re fighting a deficite of both time and talent on making that dream a reality. Suffice to say, the only way we were ever going to get a taste of that dream and what it would be like to race on the full national track in front of a packed crowd was to talk our way into this 125 race. It took some coaxing, but persistence paid off and a couple days before the race we were notified that we would indeed be lining up! Luckily, we had just rebuilt our old 04 CR125 (okay we may or may not have ordered the top end kit just in case we got into the race), so our race steed was ready to rip. Now, it’s well known that these bikes do not exactly have a stellar reputation in the horsepower department, but with some home porting mods and a Keihen carb upgrade we figured we could at least hold our own.
Rounding the infamous Hangtown banner turn
Prior to the start of the moto, all the lucky 125 pilots gathered outside the pro pits for a quick pre-race briefing. We were told to ride slowly up and down each pit lane to get the fans fired up, and most importantly to “rev the piss out of them” on our way. It’s truly a wonder no bikes blew up on the way to the line, because rev the piss out of them we did! Riding up to the gate was a surreal experience to say the least. Yes, we had just lined up on the same gate multiple times the day before, but now it was THE Hangtown National gate, the one we had watched our heros rocket out of year after year. Sitting on the line we really tried to take a pause and let it all sink it, which was hard to do before a race even if it was just for fun, but looking up and seeing a full crowd and bustling event all around us was an experience we won’t ever forget.
The best way to pass is to jump over them, right?
But, there was still a job to do and a race to be run. After a quick site lap we re-racked the gate and prepped for our brief 3 lap moto. We knew the start was going to be a challenge due to the age of the bike and lack of power, but when the gate dropped we came out better than expected and entered the first turn around mid-pack. Unfortunately, we came together with another rider a few corners in and lost a few spots, but from that point on the only goal was to march forward as best we could and have as much fun as possible while navigating the already extremely rough Hangtown circuit. During the riders meeting we were instructed to “throw whips and put on a show”, so we did our best to throw it sideways on the admittedly small Fly 75 step up every lap since that was the only jump large enough to put some style into.
We're not sure if we ever made it onto the jumbotron, but we like to assume that we did. . .
It probably goes without saying, but the tracks that these pros ride every week are GNARLY. We couldn’t believe how rough and rutted the track already was, and this was before the pro motos had even started! Seriously, the amount of skill and fitness it takes to ride a track like that for 30+ 2 is absolutely mind blowing. With our race only being 3 laps long we were able to push hard all the way though, but still take time to enjoy a fired up crowd all around that was more than happy to hear a pack of 40 125s circulating the track just like the old days. Having that extra push was something that hard to describe, and definitely will never be forgotten.
Did we mention that the track was rough?
In the end, we finished somewhere near 10th place, not exactly lighting the world on fire but respectable enough to prove we belonged out there. Hopefully this race makes a return next year, the crowd response was fantastic and everyone involved had an incredible time. If it does, we’ll be back much more prepared and possibly with a more competitive bike, stay tuned!
Full race Gopro footage can be found HERE.