A thread for our promoters…..

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4/20/2018 3:48 PM

I was just thinking about some of the people who have influenced our great sport through race promotion. I have had so much respect for these people and the effort they put out. Sure some of them have gotten a lot of fanfare, recognition or wealth (DC and Giuseppe come to mind), but most of them do it for very little other than the satisfaction of supporting the sport they love the best way they know how. The following people come to mind:

Terry Wytal and Jim Beltnik (sp?) - SMX at Saddleback and later at De Anza. Around 1978 these were two of the first promoters I knew by name and made me feel like part of the motocross "movement.” I still remember showing to sign-up at a Saturday Saddleback race to see Terry with a cast on both forearms from a MX accident the week before; he was laughing about his injury with a great attitude and didn’t miss a beat promoting races for the rest of us healthy kids!

Steve Crosby OCIR – What can I say about this guy? I felt like he really took a personal interest in me. Not just knowing my name and always saying hi to me with an enthusiastic smile…but sometimes when I would pick up my winnings at the end of the race he would say something like, “Wow that pass you made for 3rd was spectacular. You got 6th last week and this week you got 3rd, so next week maybe a win?” Talk about someone making you feel like they take a personal interest in you! In 1981 I won my 1st pro moto at that track. Whenever I moved up a class it was always at OCIR because I was a local and I felt like the locals who raced there every Thursday night had an advantage. Sadly, one Thursday night we showed up for a race and it was cancelled. Apparently Steve rolled the tractor while prepping the track earlier that day and killed himself…a few weeks later we had a memorial race for him and that was it for Steve Crosby (RIP) and OCIR.

Jack Barbacovi CRC – Probably the first club I ever raced with. I didn’t know him well, but I remember his beard (Stu Peters’ too) and I do remember him telling me while I was on the starting line on the “California track” at Escape Country , “You can’t race in those hiking boots, you need real MX boots!” He held the race for a couple minutes while I barrowed a friend’s boots, 4 sizes too big, and returned to the starting line on time to win one of my 1st 80 beginner races! I also sadly remember that Jack’s son died in a MX accident; what a price to pay!

Stu Peters along with Sondra and Marc CMC – This was the club I raced with when I got a little older and faster. The Golden State Series’ were like outdoor nationals! Us local kids got a chance to race with the likes of Hannah, Bailey, Johnson, O’Mara and outta country guys like Jeff Leisk and Rollerball Pederson. Other than the Golden State Series they also did the TransCal series, and 3 weeks and one Wednesday night out of every month of the year they had a “points” race for the CMC #1 plate. For the series’ Stu would travel with his own starting gate to each race throughout California and sometimes have a double points race in Mexico or Utah. I would guess 95% of the top pros in the 80’s came through CMC. A family putting in tireless effort for the love of our sport!

Frank and Myra Thomason (and their extended crew) REM at Carlsbad and now currently at Glen Helen – I get the feeling Frank didn’t start promoting as a business but rather out of necessity; the need to keep our sport alive and give racers a place to go where the track is challenging but not excessively dangerous. He keeps the track watered and prepped and if a section does get too dangerous he will fix it immediately. He has plenty of flaggers and safety and sportsmanship are of the utmost importance. If you knock yourself silly or completely unconscious…Frank WILL NOT let you race for the next 3-4 weeks (I’m actually not sure of his exact protocol…but rest assured it’s with the racers safety in mind and NOT business profit!). Frank is concerned about each racer getting their money’s worth of track time without spending 12 hours at the track. He does approximately 40 races/year and has been doing it for more than 25 years! They give away free-with-sign-up raffle prizes from their many sponsors every week (Mechanix wear and 6D are just a couple), and quarterly and year end prizes too. Sometimes you’ll see an industry hero there like J-Mart or Deano….and if I’m going to mention industry people, I can’t not mention Jody and the MXA crew. The REM club (Frank and Myra) is truly like a racing family…..in that everyone is super friendly and happy to see eachother in the morning at sign up or the riders meeting, but very few will pass up an opportunity to punt their best friend out of a tight technical off-chamber turn during a race….only to share a beer with em’ afterwards while bench racing.

I almost forgot Ron Hendrickson of NMA fame (Think Ponca City) and his crew of Ted Moorewood and Jack Dennis; another group of sincerely nice, unpretentious people. I raced 80’s and 125’s with them. I think they liked my mom because she was attractive, single and the exact oppisite of the typical "mini parent." When they asked her what bike her sons rode, she said, "I don't know...they're yellow."....when all the other parents would tell them the make, model, year and modifications. About 20 years later I went to practice/play ride at the Starwest MX park in So Cal and Ron was the guy taking my money at the gate. I was shocked that he recognized me…very cool!

I raced AME on mini's too but I never knew the promoter. Years later I did hear something about a tractor rolling over on him or one of his employees at Indian Dunes. What an awful way to go; same thing happened to a water truck driver at the bottom of the 1st turn at Saddleback right before they closed.

I don’t know DC personally and I didn’t know his dad Davey Coombs Sr. (MX Sports Pro Racing)or Eric Peronnard (Various Euro SX’s) but I have heard great things about both of them from reputable people and have a ton of respect for them! As for Giuseppi Luongo (FIM)….well, I’m a big fan of the MXGP’s and they are exciting to watch…I’ll just leave it at that.

As a shy 80 beginner in 1978 Jim Beltnik and Terry Wytal knew my name, always gave me an enthusiast “Hi” and in general, made me feel like I was one of the cool racers that belonged. Soon after that, when I was on 125’s, it was Steve Crosby that made me feel like that….when I turned pro, it was Stu and Sondra Peters….and most recently Frank and Myra! I haven’t raced in a couple years but I’m still every bit as addicted to the sport as I ever was and everything about it. If I could afford it, I would race 40 times/year at REM; I haven’t given up on that dream.
For some of you it’s obvious that I’m from Southern California and my experience and knowledge is somewhat geographically limited to such…other than the well-known world-stage promoters of Giuseppe, Peronnard and DC. However, I’m sure there are a lot of Beltnik’s, Crosby’s, Barbacovi’s, Peters’ and Thomason’s in other countries, states or locals (Beasley and the Martins come to mind). Here’s your chance to give them props and share some of your stories about these unsung heroes of motocross.

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4/20/2018 3:52 PM

Nice post. These are well known promoters mostly. Let us not forget our “local” promoters and land owners who without, this sport really wouldn’t exist today.

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4/20/2018 4:15 PM

Saw Jack B 2 weeks ago at LACR and still looks the exact same as he did when I was just a kid. Jack's son was my dads best friend and was actually at my parents house the night my mom went into labor with me. I watched the crash that killed him, I was 4 and he was Uncle Jeff.

Stu we haven't seen in a while, but I believe he's called my dad somewhat recently. My dad ran the starting gate the last 12-13 years of CMC before shutting down and my mom was a lap checker with Sondra's daughter. We haven't seen Marc in a while either, but I know he's always busy building tracks.

Saw Terry W out at LACR 2 weeks ago also. That guy always has a smile on his face.

Love all of them. I grew up around each of them and always felt like family. There are some amazing people in this sport

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4/20/2018 4:20 PM

Growing up in Southern California I have raced with most of your list.

Shoot, Frank gave me my first job in the 'industry' as a flagger at Carlsbad Raceway. lol So I will always be thankful for that.

Ron and Jack are good guys too, the first time I met Jack he was mad at me for not blocking off a space for his trailer by the announcers tower, we buried the beef pretty much immediately and worked quite a few Gold Cup events together. I know Ron gets a bad rep for the fallout from Ponca/Vegas, but that man has done a ton for this sport. He's seen and done more than most, and has a ton of stories of the stars before they were stars. Ron is out of the promotion game now a days, but his races in the 80s/90/00s were some of the biggest amateur races of all time. The sport owes him some gratitude that he probably will never get.

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