The crowd was big on Sunday. Just how big? Pick your won favorite large number.

We’re sure you’ve just about reached overload on the 2007 Red Bull Motocross of Nations, but we want to add just a few more tales to the weekend, and give you a look at a few more photos. There are also a ton more in the photo gallery that houses the shots here, and you can click the following link to get to the Motocross of Nations wrap-up.

Near the end of the Motocross of Nations weekend, we ran into Jonathan Beasley, who was still running wide open, handling a myriad of details surrounding the event. When we asked him if he had an official attendance number, he quipped, “For the media? Or for the IRS?” And while he never did cough up anything resembling an actual attendance figure, he did say, “If it had rained this weekend (which would have hurt attendance), I wouldn’t have owned this track. I don’t normally gamble, and when I go to Vegas, I get a roll of nickels to play with. But sometimes you have to go with your heart instead of your head.”

We'd guess by that point he'd been up for several days straight, and was semi-punchy. But one thing's for sure, without his drive and determination to make it happen, who knows how long it would have been before the Motocross of Nations came back to the U.S? As far as we’re concerned the entire U.S. moto scene owes him a huge debt of gratitude for taking on the task of bringing the race to Budds Creek. There are (or at least were) very few promoters who’d take gamble…but we just hope it’s not another 20 years before we see the Motocross of Nations here again.

Ricky Carmichael

Ricky Carmichael.

Ricky Carmichael was presented with a Youthstream Career Award by Giuseppe Luongo, and they also created the Ricky Carmichael Award, which will be presented to the youngest and best placed rider in the final of every Motocross of Nations. Arnaud Tonus from Switzerland was this year’s winner of the award, and the 16-year-old scored a 21st and 20th in his two rides, which gave him ninth overall on the day in the MX2 class.

Arnaud Tonus

Arnaud Tonus.

Regarding the Motocross of Nations, RC said, “Growing up, I always wanted to race this event. There’s so much history behind this event and it was so special to make it.”

“The first time I won a National Championship in 1997, I didn’t get to make it…I didn’t qualify for the race. Steve Lamson qualified, and they brought him. I was so disappointed. So I worked harder the next year to try and make that dream come true, and I made it there.”

On Saturday afternoon, there was a press conference held at the Red Bull Energy Station featuring a presentation on the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation, which is a privately funded non-profit organization. It was created by Heinz Kinigadner, two-time World Champion, and Detrich Mateschitz, the founder of Red Bull to focus on four areas: International cutting-edge research, Clinical studies/trials, Communication, and Prevention.

The foundation has been open for business for quite a while in Europe, but is now able to accept donations from within the U.

Wings For Life

That's Heinz Kinigadner to the left, along with Pit Beirer, Jan Schwab, Ernesto Fonseca, Mak Zupan, Mitch Payton, and Davey Coombs.

There were a variety of guests who spoke, including Pit Beirer (KTM Red Bull’s Team Manager, a former GP winner who was paralyzed several years ago); Mark Zupan, a wheelchair rugby player and a star of the film Murderball; former Team Honda rider, Ernesto Fonseca, and Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Mitch Payton.

Among the notable items we heard at the press conference were the contents of a text message from Chris Blaise, a desert racer and Paris-Dakar competitor who was paralyzed in a training crash a few weeks ago. His message said, “Since my crash last month in the Nevada desert, I’ve experience firsthand how devastating a spinal core injury can be, and how quickly and totally life changes when you sustain one. I would never have bet that after racing Baja for years, and enjoying three successful trips to the Dakar rally that a pre-race training crash would land me in a wheelchair.”

These days there are too many stories like mine, and we’ve got to find a cure for spinal injuries. That’s why I’m asking all of you to support Heinz Kinigadner and the Wings for Life Foundation.”

Ernesto Fonseca commented that, “What can I say? It’s tough, but it is what it is and you have to live through it. Every day I think about Stephen Murray, he was a BMX dirt rider. He crashed and he got paralyzed, and Tara Llanes, she’s a mountain biker (dealing with the same thing). There are so many stories and so many people. Now that I’m in a chair I realize that, but before, I didn’t really hear about it. It wasn’t because I didn’t care, but because I was scared of it and didn’t pay attention to it.”

“You try to make the best out of it. With Wings For Life, it gives me hope that I just need to keep trying and stay in shape and do the best I can, because it (a cure) can happen someday.  I think it’s in the back of our minds, everyone that’s in a chair, that we’ll wait for that day for sure.”

Maybe the heaviest quote we’ve heard in a long time came from Mitch Payton, who said, “This injury is something that obviously all these guys can attest to, it’s hard on you in the beginning and if you really love what you do you’ve got to find something to do. This is what I like, and I put my life into it. I would probably give my company away, and would sell everything if I could walk again. Even the simplest thing, like playing a softball game, is not possible. But you’ve got to be tough, and got to be strong. You look around and maybe there’s guys who are worse off than I am. Then you realize you’re fortunate with what you have.”

“Obviously this is a good program, and if they can find a cure that’s an awesome deal, and I would support it 100 percent.”

If you’re interested in finding out more, or want to help out the cause, check out www.wingsforlife.com.

Danny \

Danny "Magoo" Chandler. Danny looked pretty amped about being in front of the crowd, pulling some wheelies in his chair, and generally having a good time.

It was cool to see one of the original USA heroes from the Motocross of Nations, Danny “Magoo” Chandler, during the opening ceremonies. Danny’s another former champ who has been in a wheelchair, and while it was good to see him there, it’s tough to see so many of our former champs in wheelchairs. Just take this as a reminder that you need to keep your safety gear in mind. Not just what you wear, but what kind of condition it's in. Make sure it's in good shape.

During Saturday’s qualifier, where he scored a great start, we asked Tim Ferry where that one had came from. He told us, “You know I’ve had those starts all year. Everybody remembers what happened the last few rounds (of the Nationals), and I had some really good starts all year, even in the beginning of the Nationals. I made some changes to the bike, and I think I went the wrong way. We’re back to baseline, and I can do even better on the start. It’s really deep…way deeper than it was for the nationals, so I kind of short-shifted too early, but I should be dialed for Sunday.”

Tim Ferry and his dad

Tim Ferry with his dad on Saturday afternoon. How cool was it to be able to share a moment like that?

The start was extremely deep…it was like walking across a giant marshmallow pit covered with huge ruts. We’d guess that was what caught Ryan Villopoto off guard and sending him across about four lanes of traffic during his moto one start.

Stefan Everts and Ricky Carmichael

Stefan Everts and Ricky Carmichael.

How cool was it to see Ricky Carmichael and Stefan Everts doing a Lap of Honor before the start of the first moto? Very. We can only dream of tapping into the talent pool that those two guys have. Actually, Stefan released his first how-to DVD, covering sand riding, at the race, along with an autobiography that had been translated from Dutch to English. They’re still working out details for sales in the U.S., but we’ll pass along details as we find out more.

Stefan Everts

Stefan Everts.

Checking out the bikes in the pits was pretty interesting Without the AMA production rules in place, everyone was hoping Ricky was riding a fuel-injected RM-Z450 (he wasn’t), but we’ll have to wait for the U.S. Open to see that. (They didn’t have enough parts yet.)

Team USA

Team USA.

The trickest bike we spotted in the pits might have been Akira Narita’s Yamaha 450, which had a whole bunch of variations from Grant Langston’s YZ450F in the frame, engine, clamps, and more. The carbon tank and subframe were nice touches, and he was also sporting a steering damper up front.

Akira Narita's Yamaha YZ450

Check out Akira's bike, with a different cylinder and side covers, modified frame (by the pegs), carbon subframe and more. Ah yeah...we remember works bikes. We just don't see them in the U.S. very often.

The European Suzuki factory bikes were pretty trick as well, with carbon tanks and a separate carbon piece on top of the tank that helped scoop air into the vents. Next year with a smaller tank, it sounds like they’re working on a separate carbon shield that will run under the tank, and the scoops will flow air between the shield and the tank to keep the fuel much cooler than in the past. They also featured carbon subframes, which also included more of the airbox functions than the Yamahas.

Hey, how about Tarah Gieger finishing 18th (of 30) in the B Final on Sunday, beating all of Team Iceland? Pretty cool.

Tarah Gieger

Tarah Gieger.

You guys were pretty spot-on in our Vital MX pre-MXoN poll. The U.S.A. dominated the voting, and you picked second-place France to be on the podium, though Italy slipped in ahead of them. Ahead of the actual balloting.

USA 73.3%
Italy 7.8%
France 6.1%
Australia 4.4%
Canada 3.9%
UK 1.7%
New Zealand 1.1%
South Africa 1.1%
Another country 0.6%
Belgium 0%

There were a few guys who you’d better not have blinked, or you’d have missed their participation in the 2007 MXoN. Two-thirds of the New Zealand squad made an early exit, when Ben Townley and Daryl Hurley both crashed during Saturday’s free practice, and the team withdrew after that. Great Britain's James Noble was a moto one casualty on Sunday.

Ben Townley

Ben Townley.

James Noble

James Noble.

All we can say is that the race is one that any hardcore motocross fan can get excited about, and we're already looking forward to the 2008 version which will be held in Northern Ireland next year, and Italy in 2009. But for now, we're already jonesing for race action, and turning our attention to the U.S. Open, and prep for the ’08 Supercross season. Be sure to check out Vital MX as the riders and teams prep for '08.

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