Motocross Captured #4- Stanton/Ward

A walk back in time

Hi everyone, from the late 80s through the mid 90s I was a contributing photographer for Hi-Torque Publications (MXA and Dirt Bike magazine).  The photos that you see here were never published and have been stored as 35mm slides for the last 15-20 years.  A month or so ago, I finally got around to purchasing a quality scanner and the journey began, going through these images has been a revelation, as I haven't looked at any of them since I put them away and had only seen them as tiny little 35mm slides.  Scanning them, then seeing the images on a computer screen has been like seeing them for the first time, they stir up lots of great memories, and bring back a great era for motocross, lots of bright color, big characters and of course, some true legends of the sport.I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I have-Mike Sweeney

Sweeney- "Here's a shot of Wardy launching up the gigantic uphill double at Budd's, 1990. Story behind the photo, I remember walking the track before practice and looking at this big old kicker set up at the bottom of a pretty steep uphill and thinking, holy shit, I can't wait to see them hit this.  There was a fairly tight right hand corner before it and the run up was real short.


A little while later practice started and the 125 guys started rolling around the track, after a while a couple of guys tried to pin it around the outside of the corner and made a run at it, they pretty much slammed into the face of the hill, a good bit short of the top, after that they all started rolling it, trying to carry speed into the uphill.


A while later the 500s got out, I distinctly remember standing at the top of the hill looking down and seeing Wardy coming around, he went into the corner hot, upshifted, fanned the clutch and RRRrrrrruuuuhhht launched up the hill.


My freaking jaw dropped.  Wardy hung in the air for a second, tapped the rear brake, set her down and roosted away.  The landing was actually pretty soft when they hit the mark.


Soon everyone was going around and all of the top guys were doing it.  Definitely one of the highest jumps I've ever seen, possibly one of the highest launches in AMA motocross history.  The shot of Wardy from the side gives a great view of the altitude they would get, the spot of sun at the bottom of the frame was ground level.


That's it for this week, hope everyone enjoys!

Blazier- "Ah…now we are in my wheelhouse. These pics are from the 1990 Budds Creek National and I am probably actually in this picture as this is where I used to stand every year.  I have been to just about every major race held at this track and raced there myself countless times, so I am pretty familiar with this jump. 1990 was the second year we had the National at Budds and this year pretty much all the 500 guys were hucking this mega-leap.  The first year in ’89, however, almost no one was doing it.


 In practice for the ’89 event, Rick Johnson was one of the first 500 guys to even attempt it and on one of his laps he clipped the landing and ate major dodo. The crash busted RJ’s ribs and was so bad that he nearly skipped the race. During the actual race, only JMB, Ward, Stanton and Johnson cleared the “Big Gulp” (So named by locals, for the big 7-11 sign that used to sit on the hill next to the landing). In ’89 and even in ’90, none of the 125’s even attempted it.  I can tell you from personal experience that this jump was way gnarly and there was no way I was going to even attempt it on my 250, let alone my 125."


 In 1991, the jump was toned down a bit and this was the first year that 125’s could clear it. Even so, only the top five or so guys were making it (I still remember Jeff Emig railing the way outside and pinning his Factory Yamaha YZ125 all the way up the face with his butt hanging off the back fender to barely clear it every lap). By ’92 all the top guys were clearing it in both classes and by 1996 James Stewart was nailing it on his KX60. Such is motocross. 


Want to see this jump in action? Check out my Youtube page with the race HERE


I was there...

Okay, so I jumped the gun on this photo in a previous article, but I was there this day in 1990. I raced the amateur race on Saturday, and then the next day on Sunday I was a caution flagger for the National. I flagged on this jump for one of the practice sessions in the morning, but during the races (125/500) I was on other parts of the track.

This truly was a huge jump and back then, there was no way I was going to jump it on my 250; in fact, a guy landed on my arm when we went over that jump side-by-side (singling it, of course). I remember seeing a green front fender, and his front wheel hit my left forearm and knocked my hand off the bar. We neither one crashed, but at the time I was thinking "Holy Crap! That could have been just like RJ/Storbeck and I could have ended up with a broken wrist!"

I raced at Budds Creek all through 1990, and I never saw anyone double this jump that wasn't on a 500.

Edit; I can't wrap my head around how anyone (even Stewart) would be able to jump this on a 60, or even 80. If the 125s were BARELY making the leap, how could an 80/60 jump it just a few years later? It's not like there were massive leaps in horsepower such that the 60s of 1996 had the output of the 125s of 1992..? You still need a minimum amount of speed (regardless of bike size), and coming out of a right-hand corner there wasn't a huge run-up to the jump, so how in the world would a 60 or 80 be able to get up to speed quick enough to clear it?