My most vivid memory of the many years of racing I have seen at Unadilla took place during the TransUSA Series in 1977 or '78. Bob Hannah had won the first moto (With Roger DeCoster finishing second) & had run away from DeCoster at the start of the second moto. DeCoster's lap times showed he was gaining about a second a lap on the Hurricane. "The Man" finally caught him at the bottom of the steep uphill & stuffed Hannah on the turn at the bottom of the hill, stalling Hannah's Yamaha. Hannah Kick-started his machine, looked up, ready to give chase, but Roger was GONE!
I remember seeing Pat Maroney on a YZ465 and Mickey Kessler on a Maico 450 duke it out in the support class of the 250 USGP in 1980. There is nothing like watching a big bore 2-stroke hauling up the steep hill of Unadilla or the long back straight. Supercross and modern four strokes are cool, but there is nothing like open class two stokes at Unadilla. I feel sorry for you youngsters who have never experienced a big bore two stroke.
I have been going up to Unadilla for 10 years straight and the year 2000 was my first year going up. I remember driving up and all I could see was corn fields the whole way. We were in the middle of no where that was for sure. We left on a Friday and we stayed for the weekend coming home on Sunday. Finally we were there. I got to the track the first time I would ever see it and I remember this huge ditch which later I found out the name of it was gravity cavity. I just had to run down it so I did and up the other side. I was around 8 when I did this and I should have realized I’d be walking up hills all day. There was that hill and probably the worst hill I have ever had to climb which was the screw you turn. That was rough. I remember watching Ricky Carmichael(g.o.at.) and James Stewart battling for the lead. Every year they would battle such a fun time. If you never went to Unadilla then I would definitely recommend you go. Awesome track. I’ve only went to one other pro track and that was Southwick and I definitely say Unadilla is the best track no doubt and has the best viewing. You can see the whole track no matter where you go. Thanks Unadilla for making every year really good.
-Eric; Pleasant Valley, NY
A friend of mine took me up to the Unadilla twice when I was in high school in the early 1980's. He used to race and knew a lot of people there. It was great because I loved motocross also. The one time, I don\'t know when it was, but Johnny O'Mara and Bob Hannah were racing it out for first place but Johnny ran out of gas. On the podium Johnny gave Bob his gas tank, Honda. Everyone had a laugh. Glad they could laugh about it. Loved the track! The best in the USA if not the world with the most incredible natural terrain. Love Gravity Cavity! Love the track!!
James ~ Central PA
It was 1980 at the 250Gp I was 14 my brother16 we took dads Buick
with his pay check and my nothing(I still owe him$) Any way it was Saturday
after the 250 practice we went back to the car. For some reason we got into
a fight I threw chip dip at him and ran for my life. I went to the pit aria.
I ended up seeing Kent Howerton's factory Suzuki with the Ful-Floater suspension. I got kent\'s autograph. By the time I went back to the car he
forgot about the fight. We had a great time,we spent all his money, pulling in the driveway on fumes
Norm ~ Youngstown, OH
I consider myself beyond fortunate. I was raised on the "spirit" of Unadilla. My first visit was way back in the day. Not sure exactly but I think I was about 7 yrs old, maybe late 60s or very early 70s. My dad and his buddies would race there back when motocross was largely unheard of in this country .I remember riding my Kawasaki Cyote around the pits. The rich kids had Binellis ;). A number of years passed till the next visit. It was a magical time in motocross history and this young boy, already bitten by the motocross bug, would never be the same. It was the first time Rodger Decoster and Bob Hanna would do battle. And it was on "holy ground" ! Im not sure I ever fully recoverd from the experience. Epic.The races in those days were colorful. Everything was new, talent was filled with expression, and no track on earth could put it to the test like Unadilla.To this day this holds tru in the hearts of many. Then of course there were the fans. You know the ones.Their in it no matter what. And the "goings on" well, you would not believe me if I told you ;).
1st time at dilla was 1977 . I was a huge fan of Marty Smith. I remember just hanging out in awe watching the Honda pits , Croft ,pomeroy , Smith all right there in person. all of a sudden Martys parents invited me in the pits with them . I was just in shock . They treated me so nice . They introduced me to Marty's girlfried Nancy Sauer I remember she had a cast on her wrist.It was so incredible . Afterward I walked into Hannah in the pits . I asked him for his autograph, & when he saw Marty's autograph he said to me you know what I think of Marty Smith ? he then proceded to wipe his butt with my FMF hat. Well Marty won that day on his factory 500 honda. Then it got even better. Dave Arnold asked me to start Marty's bike !! 'cause he had sandles on & he needed to bring the bike back after the AMA checked it .I almost could't start it ,it had so much compression !But I did . That was one of, but the best dilla story I have.
I start by saying that Ihave only been attending Unadilla for 8 years but believe me the stories I could tell. We have the biggest bash at my house every year for the past 5 years.We have people that come in fromall over New York state including 2 cousins that have been going to Unadilla for 22 years straight. We generally sit up on the way back hill and if you have seen the 3 guys with the deer horn helmets and 2 of us girls with the pink deer horn helmets, thats us...WOuld love to add our pics to the website!!!!! See ya in 9 days!!!!!!!!!!!
I was 12 yrs. old when a family friend took me to my first Unadilla event, the 1972 trans ama. Roger Decoster was my idol. We just entered the gate and walked up to the fence and practice was already in progress. We were there a short time and all of a sudden, Roger Decoster pulled off the track for some reason and was literally two feet in front of us checking something on his bike. My jaw dropped!!!!!
I attended Unadilla for 16 years straight starting 1992. Had to miss las three due to issues out of my control. I watched the crowds get crazy and then calm down somewhat in the later years. I saw mike larocca's first race there on a non descript yamaha (he was 16). I also got to see him Indianapolis when won in front of his hometown crowd. The drive from Ohio is 9 hours and worth every minute of it.
It was so different back then. It seems that for so many years motocross has become so darn "cookie-cutter" and to some extent, right down to the rider himself. My thoughts have nothing to do with the likes of today's TRUE fan favorites. Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed, Alessi, and so many others who work their collective tails off for their respective teams, do have a vague difference in the nature in which they get the job done. The best riders clearly shine heads above the rest and their skills are in no way reflective of "cookie-cutter."
During decades of the events I and so many others have attended at the TRUE EASTERN mecca of motocross, the Western equivalent of course is the historic Carlsbad, may it R.I.P. My guess is anyone reading to this point knows in their mind exactly where I'm going with these thoughts.
To some extent, we were reminded of the birth and glory days of outdoor motocross with last years vintage displays and such at the national events. Who can forget all the different manufacturers' brands, the masses of privateers and exactly the simplicity of how they, and we, got to the races in those days; Chevy, Ford and Dodge vans, Vegas and even VW bugs pulling trailers. AFFORDABLE trick accessories and garments abounded. And can we forget when a factory pilot would show up with something even VAGUELY outrageous and unlike anything we'd seen on a motorcycle in the past? The forward mounted and cantilevered rear shocks of Maico, Husky and Montesa? The Falta Replicas and the madness of what Team Fox and LOP had to offer? And the mono-shocked and then water cooled YZs?
Talk about a fan stir...!
But with the outrageous engineering of equipment back then, came the most identifiable and distinctive contrast in riders in motocross history. But these days, not so much. Ask any seasoned Unadilla fan and have them describe the wild and crazy riding style of "The Hurricane" and "Magoo"; the balanced and smooth nature of DeCoster, Marty Smith and Glover and the unprecedented and indescribable David Bailey and Rick Johnson; the birth and death of Inter-AM series and the first Motocross of Nations held in the United States. And, the humble way that even the best-of-the-best arrived and survived at Unadilla.
Does any pro motocrosser show up to a national in transporters worth less then $100,000 these days?
But even with the thunder of 21st Century motocross, a fan who remembers or even considers the contrast and evolution of outdoor motocross can poise themselves anywhere on the sacred grounds of Unadilla, daydream about the nostalgia and significance of this event, yet still be thrilled about today's talented professionals.
This decrepit and nostalgic 70's era motocrosser will again make the pilgrimage to the best that the season has to offer. I'll wear my torn and tattered Moto-X Fox jersey, my new mens' cologne Eau-de-Klotz and probably be the only spectator OVERLY-prepared for the WORST Unadilla has to offer!
Does anyone remember those "rain events" and riders trying to escape from gravity-cavity?
Bring an umbrella race fans!
Greg Marino ~ Ocala, FL
Forget what year, but saw Bob "The Hurricane" Hannah's last race at Unadilla. Great racing, Great fans. Somethings are better left unsaid, but I can tell you that what happens at Unadilla, should stay at Unadilla. Can't wait to get back. "dirt"
Kurt Welling ~ Salem, MA
It was back in about 1978, I was 20 years old living in S.Cal. I moved there from NY. Being a MXer from NY I went to watch the pro MX races many times so the day before the race I asked my buddy Doug if he wanted to fly to NY and see the Unadilla race. We didn't really know how we would get from the airport in NY city so when we got there we boarded a train at Grand Central Station. The train broke down in the middle of the forest somewhere for a few hours on our way to Utica. When we got to Utica we didn't have enough money for a motel room so we tried to sleep on the lobby couch. The next day with suitcases in hand we tried to hitch hike to New Berlin, of cource nobody would pick us up so I went to a gas station and asked people if they would take us, finally a guy did take us all the way to the race because he was going that way anyway. We watched a great race, it was awesome.
Randy Adams ~ CA.
Late 70's Trans AMA 250 support class. Billy Grossi had just DNF\'d, I think a CZ or Husky. My buddy offered him a 70\'s style \"soul\" hand shake as there were no fences then and you could go right up to the track. Billy, all covered in dirt and wild eyed with anger at the broken bike- his long bushy hair flying all over the place- grabbed my friend\'s hand and shook and shook and wouldn\'t let the kid go. I think he actually lifted the kid off the ground and spun him around. He kept going with a mad grin until my friend could finally pull away. We were in awe! The guys then were a different breed from today, especially the privateers. Thirty plus years later I hold great memories of that era when we were all young and crazy about the sport of MX.
Al Andrews ~ PA.
1971 .... supposed to go to Utica-Rome Speedway with some people ...At the last minute , the guy taking us cancels ... but to make up for it , he says he'll take us to a " motocross " race . I ask " is that where they jump over barrels ? " ( like on the old Wide World of Sports , but they did that on ice skates ... ) Anyway ... I was clueless .
Following week , we head down rt 8 , to Unadilla .
We stopped briefly at a roadside barn to admire stone work , a fence I think ... guy taking us was a mason .
We get to the track finally , wicked hot day , whoooa , what's this ???This is pretty cool !Walking all over , checking stuff out .
Finally make my way to edge of starting line to get a picture of the start .... tons of people .... but ,,, there's a open spot !Right near the bikes too !
I squeeze in , get right up on the fence , looking through the view finder on my 110 instamatic camera ....
Bikes revving up ... and they're off !!!! WHAAAAAAT the ...I'm flying backwards through the air ... my left thigh is stinging .... what the .... I'm flat on my back ....
" HEY KID ... YOU ALL RIGHT ??? !!! "
Some huge bearded guy standing over me ...
I just nod , get up and run off , leg on fire ... what was THAT ???
Well, not only did I learn what motocross was , I also learned not to stand where THE RUBBER BAND START flew back .I think somebody grabbed me from behind and pulled ( flung ) me back out of the way at the last second ( I weighed all of 75 lbs then )
Anyway ...I didn't get a tee shirt that day , but I did try buying an OSSA banner off somebody for a dollar .
They just laughed .( " how do ya pronounce that anyway ? " I was asking ... just thought it looked cool )
Actually , in 1989 when Hannah " retired " at Unadilla , Anyway , by then I was no longer racing or keeping up with the sport , only really knew a few old names then .... anyway , I wore the offending Carlsbad tee shirt to Unadilla .
I was getting Decoster's autograph ( again ) , when he looked up ,
noticed the shirt , and said "" That's an old shirt " .
You remember this ???? I asked"Yes , I remember it " he replied .
If I could have driven up myself I would have seen them all!!!!. My kids have seen all of them since they have been alive. I was one of the guys that caried the kids in the backpacks around the track. Now they are 23 and 20 and still enjoy dragging dad around the track. We would not miss it for the world!
Going back to that 1996 national weekend that I was asking about: On Sunday morning, early, I went to walk the track (before my first real "pro"race), and my buddy who was with me snapped a picture from the top of the
starting line and before we ventured out onto the track. We paused for a few minutes, and as he was taking the picture (the sunlight was perfect) he said "well dude, here you are, you made it" (meaning I made it to the pro
class) and he clicked a few pics, and we went off and onto walking the rest of the track.
Anyway, that silly little photograph has been on my bedside table since 1996, despite having moved about 4 times since then! I can't tell you how many times I have looked at it for inspiration and a quick smile over the
years. I had been racing since 1988, and I finally made one of my biggest goals that one single day. I am grateful my friend was there to catch it, even if he only had a disposable camera.
GREATEST PLACE TO SEE MX IN THE WORLD. I HAVE BEEN GOING TO UNADILLA SINCE THE EARLY LATE 70'S.
TIM MCMAHON ~ HAMILTON NJ
In 1993 I was 17 years old and went for your amateur day, which was the"first ever", if I recall correctly. I was very excited to ride the big
track, and at the time was riding the "125 C" class. I went up on Thursday to catch the "special" Thursday practice that was scheduled, and that
allowed participants a few extra laps on the big track.
Because I left on Thursday morning, I couldn't find anyone to go with me, so
I drove up alone, and it was one of the first weekends that I went by myself
to the track (I had plenty of friends to hang with, I just drove alone). I
arrived around 12:00 and had the second practice after the minis on the
grass filled track. The practice went off around 2.30pm, and for 30 minutes it was some of the best riding I have ever done in my life, and I remember
it as one of my best motocross memories. That evening, I was sleeping at the Super 8 in Norwich, and I left the track that afternoon feeling very
motivated and fulfilled. I ended up finishing 3rd over the course of the weekend, and it was just a really good, fun weekend (albeit HOT!). Riding
that grass was epic, and something I will never, ever forget. The mini bikes were able to make one single line, and I was literally one of the
first "big" bikes on the track.
It was awesome.