SADDLEBACK CLOSED 34 YEARS AGO :(

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9/8/2018 7:32 AM

SADDLEBACK PARK: Closed for 34 Years

It's hard to believe, but 34 years ago today, Saddleback Park, the motocross and riding park in Irvine, California, closed its gates for good.

The B&W shot is one that I shot of Steve Wise and Jeff Jennings in a CMC race in 1975. They had fierce battles in both motos, with the win going to JJ. A moment before I shot this they'd bumped hips in mid-air!

The other is from 1984, that's Jeff Ward jumping up Suicide Mountain in the AMA National. He and Johnny O'Mara were the only 125cc racers to consistently clear it that day.


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9/8/2018 7:52 AM


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9/8/2018 8:17 AM

It was sure cool being able to see National talent and great racing every Sunday. There was nothing comparable to CMC pro racing

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9/8/2018 8:25 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/8/2018 8:27 AM

slipdog wrote:
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That's sweet Slip ! wasn't allowed to ride MX growing up. But my father and I did compete in trials events. Photo

Upper left photo is the great Bernie Schrieber !

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9/8/2018 8:29 AM

saddleback saturday was the best..and yes irvine but miss leading[ trabuco ?]canyon yes lake irvine was behind saddleback..but back in the day it was far from irvine...how about escape crountry...rode there many times..deanza cycle park..indian dunes..carlsbad..bye bye...best place for free practice was palm ave..way down by the border..best times ..look over a JT racing was right there.

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9/8/2018 8:33 AM

tp4 wrote:

saddleback saturday was the best..and yes irvine but miss leading[ trabuco ?]canyon yes lake irvine was behind saddleback..but back in the day it was far from irvine...how about escape crountry...rode there many times..deanza cycle park..indian dunes..carlsbad..bye bye...best place for free practice was palm ave..way down by the border..best times ..look over a JT racing was right there.

I used to drive to Palm ave from Thousand Oaks for day rides back in the 80's. Didn't seem that far back then .... Loved that place !!!!

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9/8/2018 9:04 AM

I grew up in Anaheim and Saddleback was such an important part of my growing up. Rode there all the damn time. We would go after school when we got our licenses.

What an amazing place to have, didn't really know what we had until it was gone. Same with Escape Country.

Did anyone ever ride the short lived Saddleback 2 on the edge of Irvine lake? Nothing like the original but it was sure cool to have tracks that close again, even for a little while.

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9/8/2018 9:57 AM

I'm 99% sure Saddleback closed in late June or early July 1984. SondraP or Tim Buck would know for sure.

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9/8/2018 10:05 AM

dimetime wrote:

I grew up in Anaheim and Saddleback was such an important part of my growing up. Rode there all the damn time. We would go after school when we got our licenses.

What an amazing place to have, didn't really know what we had until it was gone. Same with Escape Country.

Did anyone ever ride the short lived Saddleback 2 on the edge of Irvine lake? Nothing like the original but it was sure cool to have tracks that close again, even for a little while.

We rode the Saddleback #2. It was nice to have another track (for a little while).

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9/8/2018 10:36 AM

dimetime wrote:

I grew up in Anaheim and Saddleback was such an important part of my growing up. Rode there all the damn time. We would go after school when we got our licenses.

What an amazing place to have, didn't really know what we had until it was gone. Same with Escape Country.

Did anyone ever ride the short lived Saddleback 2 on the edge of Irvine lake? Nothing like the original but it was sure cool to have tracks that close again, even for a little while.

langhammx wrote:

We rode the Saddleback #2. It was nice to have another track (for a little while).

Hey Langham
Do you show up at Gorman with the Healy crew from time to time ? I'll be out there mañana

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9/8/2018 10:37 AM

dimetime wrote:

I grew up in Anaheim and Saddleback was such an important part of my growing up. Rode there all the damn time. We would go after school when we got our licenses.

What an amazing place to have, didn't really know what we had until it was gone. Same with Escape Country.

Did anyone ever ride the short lived Saddleback 2 on the edge of Irvine lake? Nothing like the original but it was sure cool to have tracks that close again, even for a little while.

langhammx wrote:

We rode the Saddleback #2. It was nice to have another track (for a little while).

Hallzilla wrote:

Hey Langham
Do you show up at Gorman with the Healy crew from time to time ? I'll be out there mañana

And do you have Lloyds' number ?

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9/8/2018 11:52 AM

dimetime wrote:

I grew up in Anaheim and Saddleback was such an important part of my growing up. Rode there all the damn time. We would go after school when we got our licenses.

What an amazing place to have, didn't really know what we had until it was gone. Same with Escape Country.

Did anyone ever ride the short lived Saddleback 2 on the edge of Irvine lake? Nothing like the original but it was sure cool to have tracks that close again, even for a little while.

Yep, rode there almost every time it was open, I loved that place.

The first time I ever saw James ride in person is when he flew over my head on the big triple.

17 years ago I think?

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9/8/2018 12:15 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/8/2018 12:16 PM

Rced there lots in the 70's and the shop i worked at sponsored jeff jennings when he first started out. he has the shops jersey on.

i won the last pro 3 wheeler race they had there beating jimmy white and marty hart and some of the other top honda riders.

anyone ever race with betty laskers amc club in the 70's?

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9/8/2018 12:18 PM

they closed for a few reasons but one major one was because the water truck driver got killed when the water truck rolled over and i think there was a law suit and insurance problems after that.



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9/8/2018 12:21 PM

Since that property still sits vacant with nothing touched. What is the story of why it could never be leased and reopened ?

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9/8/2018 12:40 PM

dimetime wrote:

I grew up in Anaheim and Saddleback was such an important part of my growing up. Rode there all the damn time. We would go after school when we got our licenses.

What an amazing place to have, didn't really know what we had until it was gone. Same with Escape Country.

Did anyone ever ride the short lived Saddleback 2 on the edge of Irvine lake? Nothing like the original but it was sure cool to have tracks that close again, even for a little while.

langhammx wrote:

We rode the Saddleback #2. It was nice to have another track (for a little while).

Hallzilla wrote:

Hey Langham
Do you show up at Gorman with the Healy crew from time to time ? I'll be out there mañana

Yes I do. I ride there last Saturday for the first time in 4-5 months...
Email me at
Langhammx@sbcglobal.net
I got Lloyd’s #

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9/8/2018 2:08 PM

dimetime wrote:

I grew up in Anaheim and Saddleback was such an important part of my growing up. Rode there all the damn time. We would go after school when we got our licenses.

What an amazing place to have, didn't really know what we had until it was gone. Same with Escape Country.

Did anyone ever ride the short lived Saddleback 2 on the edge of Irvine lake? Nothing like the original but it was sure cool to have tracks that close again, even for a little while.

Brent wrote:

Yep, rode there almost every time it was open, I loved that place.

The first time I ever saw James ride in person is when he flew over my head on the big triple.

17 years ago I think?

I was surprised how many pros showed up there. I remember Tim Ferry, James and a few others out there at times.

The main track was pretty damn fun.

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9/8/2018 3:19 PM

I lived about 5 minutes away from Saddleback Park. The Saturday (or Sunday, or both) ritual was stopping at Racer's Pit Stop on Chapman to pick up some oil and maybe a couple of spark plugs, see any new gear they had, then head up the hill to ride.

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9/8/2018 4:05 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/8/2018 4:06 PM

As an east coast kid and living thru magazines, Saddleback was a mythical place.

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vomiting equals disqualification.

9/9/2018 3:34 PM

I never raced except for a small, woods club and hares scrambles, but I rode Saddleback once. Went on holiday with the parents to Orange, Ca to visit my aunt and uncle. Uncle knew I was a dirt bike addict so he let me ride his daily driver at Saddleback. It was an early ‘70’s Yamaha 125 street and trail! This would been 1974 I think. That track scared the shit out of me!!

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9/9/2018 3:37 PM

Forgot-
WWW.octhen.com
Some good guy long reads there.

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9/9/2018 3:58 PM

I never got to make it to Saddleback when I was a kid – even though it was only about an hour and a half away – but I always knew that the place was like motocross Mecca.

Here's a great thread in Old School where a bunch of guys shared their memories...
https://www.vitalmx.com/forums/Old-School-Moto,22/Saddleback-Park,683768

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9/9/2018 4:12 PM

dimetime wrote:

I grew up in Anaheim and Saddleback was such an important part of my growing up. Rode there all the damn time. We would go after school when we got our licenses.

What an amazing place to have, didn't really know what we had until it was gone. Same with Escape Country.

Did anyone ever ride the short lived Saddleback 2 on the edge of Irvine lake? Nothing like the original but it was sure cool to have tracks that close again, even for a little while.

Brent wrote:

Yep, rode there almost every time it was open, I loved that place.

The first time I ever saw James ride in person is when he flew over my head on the big triple.

17 years ago I think?

dimetime wrote:

I was surprised how many pros showed up there. I remember Tim Ferry, James and a few others out there at times.

The main track was pretty damn fun.

I used to ride Saddleback 2 like 2-3 times a week! Loved having a place that close to ride

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9/9/2018 4:26 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/10/2018 11:53 PM

I raced Saddleback once. In November 1974. On a Saturday, 250 int. I have no idea how I finished (upper mid pack?), but I remember that long uphill start straight. It was fun and for a hayseed from Kansas, like going to moto-disneyland.

Digression: Like all other tracks, i am saddened to see tracks close. Especially when so many years later the land is still undeveloped. Wouldn't it be cool if some of these tracks could reopen as electric bike only facilities. I don't suppose noise is always the issue, but with the acceptance of mountain biking both on trails and parks, it would not seem like too much of a stretch for electric moto to go where ICE moto has been shunned.

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9/9/2018 6:27 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/9/2018 6:27 PM

HackMan162 wrote:

I'm 99% sure Saddleback closed in late June or early July 1984. SondraP or Tim Buck would know for sure.

You're right. I was going off something posted on Facebook. It closed in July 1984, according to this: https://www.vitalmx.com/forums/Old-School-Moto,22/Saddleback-History,8043

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9/9/2018 6:27 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/9/2018 6:28 PM

I went to Saddleback a few times. Broke in my 77 YZ there. I remember buzzing around a track on the new 125 Yamaha and seeing 10 guys with RMs sitting up on the ridge watching me. Not one of em came down. I like to think they were all too intimidated to come mix it up with me Lol. Never raced there but I did race at Racing world not too far away. Of course that's gone too.... but not the memories.

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9/9/2018 7:25 PM

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Race with the Best . . .
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www.saddlebackpark.com

http://www.tmphotoart.wordpress.com

http://www.wheelspinmuseum.wordpress.com

http://wheelspinracewear.com

Intstagram: @saddleback_park @carlsbadraceway @wheelspinracewear
@timmarksphotography

9/9/2018 9:42 PM

Brent wrote:

Yep, rode there almost every time it was open, I loved that place.

The first time I ever saw James ride in person is when he flew over my head on the big triple.

17 years ago I think?

dimetime wrote:

I was surprised how many pros showed up there. I remember Tim Ferry, James and a few others out there at times.

The main track was pretty damn fun.

Lightning78 wrote:

I used to ride Saddleback 2 like 2-3 times a week! Loved having a place that close to ride

I missed the original Saddleback and Corona Raceway days but did ride quite a few laps at Saddleback 2. I really wish it was still there so I could get my kids (and me) riding more times a week. The night lights were a little dim in the back section, saw 10+ guys piled up back there one night. Lake looks like it's completely dry right now.

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9/10/2018 4:02 AM

I wish I had more of these stickers...........
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9/10/2018 6:02 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/10/2018 6:02 AM

"I'm 99% sure Saddleback closed in late June or early July 1984. SondraP or Tim Buck would know for sure."

Saddleback actually closed a couple of times in the summer of 1984, but it reopened. It was finally closed for good at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 7, according to Rex Reese's Cycle News report:

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DC
Racer X

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