A fond memory for me since I've been involved in the ATV industry has to be the start of the 2002 or 2003 ATV National MX Series season. I had never been to an ATV National MX race before and had always wanted to make the trek back East to see what it was all about. Being from Southern California, the only ATV racing scene I had experienced at that time consisted of local MX, short course and the Mickey Thompson-style stadium races that came through at the beginning of every year. While these races could prove exciting with the talent of our local pro racers, I was told the racing back East was a completely different experience altogether.
At this time one of my good friends, Kory Ellis, was racing in the Pro class of the National ATV MX Series. I've known him for what seems like forever, and knowing how much I wanted to experience what the racing was like back East, he extended an invitation for me to come out and experience it with him firsthand. This invitation was to spend a weekend with him at the opening round of the National MX series, which at this time was held at Echeconnee MX Park in Macon, Georgia. With an opportunity like this at my fingertips, I quickly accepted the offer and started arranging my travel for what would become a very memorable trip.
As I touched down at the airport in Atlanta, Kory was there to greet me along with the notorious ATV media guru John Pellan in a boxvan that was crammed with his race bikes and all of the necessities for a weekend of national-caliber racing. He and John had just trekked all the way from sunny Southern California so that Kory could compete against the best ATV racers in the world at the national level. Once we were all loaded into the boxvan, we knocked out that two-hour drive directly to the track so that Kory could make his practice. At this time he was riding one of the new Cannondale ATVs in two separate classes and was pretty much on his own when it came to running his race program. With no mechanic, he would be very stressed over the weekend, so I decided to jump in and help him set up his pit area and then prepped him for practice with all of the other pro riders.
As our day wrapped up, Kory figured he would treat me to an evening of Southern hospitality with a night out on the town. Anyone will tell you, a night out in Macon will always be a night to remember. We packed up everything for the evening, got cleaned up and then drove to one of the local watering holes. To my surprise when we walked in, there were quite a few of the pro racers from the series as well as many recognizable faces from the ATV industry like Wes Miller and many of his H-Bomb clan. Now seeing all of these people in one place was a treat, but there was definitely more exciting action to come because, unbeknownst to us, we happened to be there on amateur boxing night. This is when random bar patrons would stand toe-to-toe with someone else brave or intoxicated enough to step into the ring in front of a roaring and extremely rowdy crowd.
As if hanging around with some of the nation's top ATV racers wasn't good enough for me, my friends and I had a blast watching participants go into the ring together, but not quite leaving in the same shape they'd entered in. On more than one occasion we saw some of the "boxers" being revived mid-ring or even drug out of the ring to the medics who were on hand. The cheers were flying just like the oxygen was flowing into the mask being worn by the boxing ring's previous victim, and I was enjoying every second of it. Like all good things, though, the night had to come to an end because we had a race to get ready for in the morning.