While fireworks displays, cookouts and parades are symbolic American traditioms, motocross fans all over the country will argue that the Red Bud Nationals on the Fourth of July in Michigan trumps all of them.
The huge turnout of fans creates the atmosphere of a giant motorsports cookout. The dirt parade of bikes racing out of the starting gate is more action-packed than any street procession of floats. And to the ears of a motocross fan, the buzz of combustion within a 450cc engine is much sweeter than the popping of fireworks.
It would be tough to find a more appropriate backdrop for a celebration of American culture than the hilly farmland of Buchanan, Michigan. The course, known for having arguably the best dirt in motocross, is also one of the largest motocross tracks in the Midwest. But what good is a course with long straights and huge elevation changes if it doesn’t have the jumps to match? Standing at a whopping 120 feet tall, LaRocco’s Leap is the tallest jump in the MX circuit.
Although the dirt on track is rich at Red Bud, the spectators are given vast green tracts of grass to set up their viewing areas. The sea of lawn chairs and umbrella canopies is comparable to a tightly packed public beach on the hottest day of summer. But unlike beachgoers, these fans are willing to trade the calm sounds gentle rolling waves for the hectic ripping of 250 and 450cc engines.
Even though dedicated motocross fans make up much of the crowd, several in attendance are there for the party. While to the moto-purists this might seem against the spirit of the event, it is also a comment on just how popular the Red Bud Nationals are. To cross over into the non-motorsports community and draw them to an event is a task that few racing series can pull off these days.
At this year’s Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, fans didn’t have to look far or wait long for excitement. Jeremy Martin, last year’s series champion, managed to make dramatic passes to win both 250 motos and take the points lead. In the 450 class, Justin Barcia edged out Ryan Dungey in both races.