They say there’s a first time for everything. This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited by Mesquite MX to cover and be the race announcer for their Thanksgiving Classic. As soon as I was offered the opportunity, I jumped at it. What could you not like about motocross, turkey, and good times?
First all, I had never ever experienced an American Thanksgiving, much less an American Thanksgiving at a motocross track. For those unaware, I am Canadian, and our Thanksgiving happens the first weekend in October due to our much shorter growing season. This whole experience was new to me aside from being at a motocross track. I’d dare to say I feel more at home at a motocross track than anywhere else on this planet.
Motocross is widely known as the most family-oriented sport under the sun so having a Thanksgiving race just makes sense. I was flown down for the Vurbmoto Shred Tour event the weekend prior, so I stayed an extra seven days instead of heading back to the Canadian Tundra and was taken in by the track crew at Mesquite and got the full experience.
Moto families started rolling in on Tuesday. One after another, completely unfazed that power camping spots had been sold out for weeks. They were more than happy to have somewhere to setup the temporary town that exists at Mesquite at all their major events. Trailer after trailer, they came by the hundreds and before Wednesday practice had started, over 1200 wristbands had been sold for four days of high-flying action at Mesquite MX. Heck, the track owner even had to build a bridge across what we’re calling the Rio Grande to expand camping to the newly acquired property next door.
Dane Pappas climbs the signature Mesquite MX hill en route to a #1 plate.
I quickly learned that Americans are about as serious as a heart attack when it comes to things like freedom, Thanksgiving meals and motocross. I was blown away by the frequent acts of patriotism, dedication to their racing and the food.
Let’s talk about the food. My first American Thanksgiving was done correctly. Turkey, potatoes, vegetables, and my own portion of what was originally 17 pounds (that’s right pounds) of prime rib. Smoked to perfection and you know I went back for seconds when encouraged to do so. Cap things off with not one but three pieces of pie and as I headed to bed that night, I thought to myself “That might be the best Thursday is recent history.”
Valencia, California’s Billy McLaughlin navigating the fast lines.
Thanksgiving at a motocross track means that there is one priority. Quality time on and off the track. Between precisely timed practice sessions ensuring a ton of seat time for all, families of all walks of life could be seen gathering and catching up like old friends. The “Moto Family” is often a term used to refer to the people you chum with at the track. People you likely see more often than your actual family with an abundance of memories to go along with it. I saw parents and grandparents enjoying the sun and the friendly atmosphere that I always find at an RMX Series event.
Mesquite MX has held this Thanksgiving Classic for many years and it’s clearly became a tradition for families to descend upon the facility that hosts many events throughout the year like RMX Series as well as the famous World Mini Grand Prix (which returns April 4-7, 2024 btw). The track itself has seen major layout changes in recent years but each event runs like a Swiss made watch. Site laps, practice sessions, motos and trophy presentations all executed exactly as advertised which is a breath of fresh air to all in attendance.
Jace Allred gets adjusted to his new Honda ride on a track he knows well.
After Wednesday practice, it was time to go racing. Thirty-four motos clicked off one after another as the aroma of Carl’s BBQ filled the venue. Racers and their families spend Thanksgiving at Mesquite MX for several reasons. Not the least of which being a professional atmosphere to enjoy a ton of track time on of most challengingly prepped tracks in the country.
Wait, why is a rough and challenging track considered to be a good thing? Well, in order to prepare athletes to race at the pro level, they must race and train on professional level tracks. The massive bumps and deep rutted corners are a product of expert track prep aimed at providing a racetrack that demands all the skills necessary to one day take your talents to the biggest stage. That is why current pros like Garrett Marchbanks, Pierce Brown and Chance Hymas cut their teeth at the RMX Series and races like the Mesquite Thanksgiving Classic.
Tyke “Dozer” Taylor and his signature jeans are here to stay.
At the end of the week, great times were had by all, the racing was amazing, and I believe I’ve found my new Thanksgiving tradition. I hope to see you all at Mesquite for the 2024 World Mini Grand Prix.
Photos by Chase Cook