Countdown to Freestone: Texas Amateur Nationals, Part II

This article brought to you by Freestone MX, going down March 15-19

Back in the mid 2000s I was lucky enough to spend multiple summers all around Texas with my very good friend Matt Lemoine. I was obsessed with the place—it was the mecca of amateur motocross back then. Matt lived right down the road from Hunter Hewitt and the Wharton brothers, and it seemed like every day we’d go riding (by that I mean him riding, and me filming) at places like Village Creek, Oak Hill, Badlands, Nocona, and Cole Taylor’s. No matter where we went, you’d see everyone from Trey Canard, Sean Hackley and Kyle Cunningham to Jimmy Albertson, Ryan Villopoto, and Blake Baggett all putting laps in during the Texas summer heat. Can’t leave the Hahn Brothers off that list.

Kyle Cunningham 2005. Although, this was Ponca City.

Off topic, but I remember the first-time meeting RV. It was blazing hot at the Hewitt’s house and he’d just gotten done with a 69-minute moto. He came off and just sat outside of his motorhome baking in the heat. I remember thinking, “What in the actual… HECK.” (I’m a dad now.) He wasn’t allowed to go in the motorhome so he’d stay acclimated to the heat for Ponca and Loretta’s that were probably only a few weeks away. I think that’s when I fully realized and concluded being a pro rider was never in my cards.

All that to say Texas motocross history is something that intrigues the hell out of me. Showing up to Lake Whitney in 2003 was a literal dream, and ever since then I’ve been obsessed with amateur motocross scene, and namely the March Texas “Two-Step” tradition.

The Youtube caption for this one says it all. Very emo at the time, but it’s really cool to look back on. This was when my entire life revolved around March and heading to Texas.

Another side note: I actually got to ride Mosier Valley in 1999. It was my first time riding a 125, and I was hyped to throw my leg over my best friend’s 1993 KX125. I was about to show Texas what’s up! And then I completely busted my ass and resulted in the start of shoulder injury I didn’t get fixed until 2013.

My best friend’s dad, Joe Cross, I guess the guy you could say owned the 125 I crashed my brains out on, was also the man responsible for introducing me to dirtbikes. He’d migrated from Texas with his three motocross loving kids to my neighborhood in Georgia during my middle school days. His work only kept him there for a few short years, but it was long enough to make me fall in love with two wheels and create a life-long friendship with his whole family. Every year we’d go to Whitney, our entire food-and-sleep-deprived crew would invade his home for the week. His wife, and my second mom, Lori, would feed us and make sure we were very well taken care of. To this day the best hospitality our crew ever got! I can honestly say without that family, I wouldn’t be writing this article and we likely wouldn’t have ever been able to afford to cover Lake Whitney. So, much love fam!

More of our history. Plenty of Texas Shots in this one.

That leads me to the next part of this article. After the last installment of “Texas History”, there were many unanswered questions, and even the Twitter-verse didn’t seem to give me any helpful hints to continue putting pieces together. Then I remembered my man Joe knew early Texas motocross history inside and out—he was ALWAYS telling me stories throughout these years we spent at his house down the road from Lake Whitney.

That’s when the journalist inside of me got inspired. I literally pulled out a notebook and rang up Joe on the phone. “Oh yea, Wes, I can tell you all about it. I was with Devon and Dale the day they bought Mosier Valley.”

Well, in that first sentence I knew I’d hit the motherload. While dates are fuzzy, memories faded, and still many holes, Joe was fully involved in the scene back then and gave me the best rundown of Texas motocross history as he possibly could. And seeing as there’s not an ounce of information anywhere on the interweb, figured it was worth documenting what was possible.

Zach Osborne at Oak Hill in 2005

So here it goes:

1972: The year Joe reckons Davon Mitchell and Dale Edgeworth started Mosier Valley. It quickly became the hot ticket in Texas and was the fastest place around. There was a saying, “If you can place at Mosier, you can win anywhere.” That’s quite the reputation.

The duo then started a track called County Line, which was quickly shut down, which led them to seek out another amazing location… one by the name of Lake Whitney.

Mid ‘70s: Lake Whitney began hosting the Trans-AMA races, and many of our sports legends raced here: Roger De Coster and Brad Lackey are the two that Joe mentioned being his heroes back then.

Sometime in the late’ 70s, after a Trans-AMA race, there was a big scandal. The entire purse was stolen and the AMA pulled the event and didn’t sanction another race there (for quite a long time anyways, it seems).

We might not be headed to Lake Whitney, but we’ll be at Freestone!

Around this same time, the GNC series took shape. Putting pieces together, 1976 was around the time the inaugural Mosier Valley Grand National Championship would start kick off. It was also noted Oak Hill Raceway would’ve started around this timeframe as well.

Early ‘80s: While flying a plane in Alaska, Devon Mitchell was killed.

Around this time, Joe had to run. Weather was moving into Texas and it was supposed to “start getting really cold or something.” Yeah, I’d say that happened. Nonetheless, Joe told me to get in touch with a guy by the name of Bobby Pickard, also known as the “King of Mosier”. It seems as if he’s going to be the guy that can fill in some gaps for me here. With two full-time jobs and a third just added (I did mention I’m a dad now, right?) I haven’t been able to track down this Texas Showman for his account quite yet. But this one’s already long enough, so maybe there will be a part 3. Maybe there won’t. We’ll see how time treats me.

For any history buffs that come across this and want to give me some shortcuts in the comments, I’ve concluded that the Lake Whitney Spring Classic started in 1994. I assume they decided to start running their race prior to Mosier? How long was Mosier considered, if at all, an “amateur national” before the two-step tradition started? Did this whole amateur scene really explode with the magic of these two back-to-back races?

Okay, for real, I’m done. See you guys at Freestone March 15-19. I’ve bringing, like, 14 video cameras and a whole crew of dudes. Want some amateur motocross coverage again on a real scale? We’re bringing it.

2 Comments

  1. I’ll be glad to fill in any blanks from the 70s and I’m still in touch with Dale Edgeworth.
    Thanks Bobby Pickard

  2. Many of the characters that raced in the 70s are still around and each one of them have a ton of stories that are great! Pickard and the other top racers of those days were really fast, the difference then, they were fast on tough tracks blasting around on 4 inch travel suspension, try that today! The guys today might rethink motocross if they got to ride out a top gear tank slapper on a 400 CZ!

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Written by Vurbwes Chilidog

Been 'round these parts making dirtbike movies since '02; a weathered veteran with moto and camera related back issues, the hearing equivalent to my great-great grandfather's, and a dirt tan that will literally never come off. But I'm still in way better shape than every other dog in this joint, but that's because I use Chili and no slaw.

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