40 years in the making at Washougal MX Park

Motocross track celebrates another milestone this week

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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If only we all could look so good at 40.

“We’re very proud when we hear people say Washougal is one of the most beautiful motocross parks in the world,” said Brian Barnes, the longtime spokesman for the Washougal MX Park.

The park opened for its first competition in 1971. By 1980, it was home to one of the stops on the AMA National series. Every year since then, with the exception of 1987, the series has returned to Washougal.

Saturday, Clark County will be the center of the motocross world again, with the Washougal MX National, the eighth round of the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships.

More than 20,000 fans are expected to attend.

Park officials will not only celebrate the best professional riders in the world, they will also acknowledge the history of the “original” extreme sport and honor the amateur riders who have made the track such a success for so long.

As of Sunday night, more than 900 amateurs had registered to race Thursday and Friday, prior to the professionals who will race Saturday.

“In some cases, it feels like we’re one of them because we get to ride the same track,” said 21-year-old Brock Barnes, Brian’s son and an amateur rider who has raced at Washougal for the past 11 years. “We ride the same track as the big guys.”

Brian Barnes first came to Washougal in 1976 to watch what was then called the Northwest Challenge. He said that was a precursor to the national coming to Washougal. By 1979, Barnes was working for the track. A year later, the tour came to Washougal.

A lot of changes have been made through the years — to accommodate the sport and the fans — but every year, Barnes and the staff hear so much praise regarding the park.

“It’s just a culmination of teamwork,” Barnes said. “We have a great crew that is dedicated and volunteers so much of their own time to make the track what it is today. Most of our crew has been together between 10 and 20 years.”

Their experience makes for a memorable experience for the athletes and their fans. Once again, the park will be filled with vendors selling food, souvenirs, and racing gear, among other things. The amateur riders will rule the course on Thursday and Friday. Thousands of fans and amateurs camp at the site, about seven miles north of Washougal.

On Friday night, the 40th birthday celebration will continue with a vintage bike show on the infield. On Saturday before the national event, those bikes will be used on parade laps and some in an exhibition moto.

“We want to show off the heritage of motocross and the way the sport started and to what it has grown to today,” Barnes said.

The park also is giving away a VIP prize package through Racer X. To enter, you must “like” Washougal Motocross Park LLC on Facebook and find the link to for the VIP prize and Racer X online.

2011 Washougal MX National

When & Where: Beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at Washougal MX Park, 40205 NE Borin Rd., Washougal.

Directions: East from Vancouver on Highway 14 to Washougal. Turn left on 15th Street, go 8.5 miles, turn left on 412th/Alder Road, then left on Borin Road.

Supporting events: Amateur racing takes place Thursday and Friday, with the pros taking to the course on Saturday.

Cost: $60 for admission from Wednesday through Saturday, or $40 for Saturday only for adults and children 12 and older, $30 for children 7-11. Children 6 and under are free. Cash only at the track. To purchase online, go to washougalmxpk.com.

TV: Moto 2 of the 450 class will be shown live beginning at 4 p.m. on SPEED (Comcast digital cable Channel 408).