It all started with a gold rush, in 1877 Mammoth Lakes, California as we know it, was born when four prospectors staked a claim for gold. People came in droves to the gold rush. Here at over 8,000 feet of elevation in the Eastern Sierra forest of California lay a slice of paradise, massive pine trees, beautiful lakes, real California rural beauty. As time wore on and the gold rush subsided the gold mining community of Mammoth grew since those first four prospectors struck claim. It was no longer a simple mining town but had become an outdoor recreation paradise. Some of the best alpine skiing California had to offer in the winter, with superb fishing and hiking in the summer and by 1968, MOTOCROSS! Yep, MOTOCROSS!
In the 1960s there weren’t many motocross tracks around, Carlsbad raceway, Saddleback Mx Park, and Indian Dunes are places that come to mind for California, but that was mostly it, and Southern California was the mecca for motocross at that time and arguably still is. When the word spread in 1968 about a motocross race in the pine trees of Mammoth Lakes, California, 65 motorcycles showed up to race. An uphill start, that then wound up and down, in and out, the trees and the bumps, the mountain dirt and mountain air, racing at 8,000 ft (roughly 2,500 meters) of elevation, bikes and bodies struggled and the racing was a damn good time. By the following year, 1969, The word had really spread and about 500 motorcycles showed up to race. Mammoth motocross as we have come to know it now was born and people loved it.
Fast forward 51 years to 2018 and the heritage of this legendary event is alive and well. The track remains pretty damn close to those early years. Racers go out and race on the same piece of dirt that the Legends of the sport before them have raced for decades. Guys like Ron Leichen, Ricky Johnson, Doug Dubach and heck if you were out there this year and had the speed, you could have lined up next to “The King” himself, Jeremy McGrath, in the 30+ Pro class. Thats the type of event this is, a place where legends, icons, and heroes, line up next to average joes, the blue collar guys that were on the tools swinging hammers and pounding nails on Friday and racing McGrath on Saturday. At the end of the day they are all just dudes that love riding dirtbikes. They don’t come here because they have to. Everyone is here to twist some throttle, maybe catch a fish on the lake or a tasty buzz at the ice chest after the race. Really just get away from it all in the solitude of open spaces and getting the satisfaction of knowing they did it.
Mammoth Motocross has remained true to its motocross roots, most tracks nowadays are a hybrid of sorts, a combination of supercross and motocross, large jumps, manmade obstacles, but not here. Here the natural terrain layout that was standard place in the 1960’s, is still what you find and the racers wouldn’t want it any other way. The lack of oxygen at this altitude is enough to keep even the fittest athlete from performing at their best. The average joes find themselves winded after rolling the bike out of the back of truck… The carbureted bikes ping and sputter as people mess with jetting and fuel mixtures trying to find that magic combination, But thats just it. It levels the playing field you could say or maybe it allows those who have really put the work in, shine…
These days, Mammoth Motocross has become a major race for the kids on the amateur circuit, here looking to prove themselves in front of team managers, and their peers while the older kids might be looking to gain valuable points towards an AMA Pro racing license. Yet, the vibe remains the same, here everyone remembers why they started riding dirt bikes in the first place. It is just fun, but hey lets be honest these are racers we are talking about and no one came here to get last place, because, well, winning is just more fun! Every race, from the vintage motorcycle racing classes, to the vets classes, to the kids, absolutely everyone is out there banging bars and hunting down one of the coveted Mammoth Bear Trophies. It comes down to some healthy bragging rights between buddies if nothing else.
All these things, all these years of racing, thats what brought the Deus Crew up to Eastern Sierras 51 years after the first Mammoth Motocross. Late to the party? Maybe. But, better late than never, and like fine wine, Mammoth keeps getting better with age. For their first year of Mammoth Motocross the Deus Duo of motocross of little Kelana Humphrey and Forrest Minchinton tagged along with a couple of their friends and came to see Mammoth’s modern day motorcycle gold rush in all its 2 stroke smoke and roost glory. Kelana went on to get 4 holeshots throughout his couple days of racing in the highly competitive 65cc class. Finishing a very respectable 4th and 6th overall in the two different 65cc classes. Forrest, went on to get 3 great starts out of the 4 races and ended up 12th overall in the equally competitive 25+ age division. No wins, but good times and thats what they came for, the most fun motocross race in the west.