AMA

Hangtown: The classic event preview

AMA Motocrossers hoping to add their name to the list of Hangtown Classic Legends. PICKERINGTON, Ohio-- The Hangtown Classic is at the head of the list when it comes to historic motocross races in America. Dating back to 1969, the annual...

AMA Motocrossers hoping to add their name to the list of Hangtown Classic Legends.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio-- The Hangtown Classic is at the head of the list when it comes to historic motocross races in America. Dating back to 1969, the annual Hangtown race hosted by the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club, was one of the first true major events in the sport of motocross in this country. Motorcycle Hall of Fame members Dick Mann and Gary Bailey shared wins with lesser-known rider Larry Mulock in the first Hangtown motocross races 33 years ago. Since those humble but promising origins, the Hangtown event has grown into a happening that truly deserves the moniker of "classic". This Sunday, May 19, the 34th running of the race will take place at Prairie City OHV Park just east of Sacramento, Calif.

Ask most riders what motocross race they would most like to win and Hangtown is mentioned time and again. This race is one of the oldest and most traditional events on the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship calendar. It is also the best-attended event in the 12-race series.

Ricky Carmichael, 22, of Havana, Fla., comes into this weekend's race leading the points in the 250 class after winning the season opener Sunday in San Bernardino, Calif., on his factory Honda. Hangtown is one of only two AMA 250 Nationals that Carmichael hasn't won-- the other is Mt. Morris, Pa.

"I'd definitely like to win Hangtown," said Carmichael, who is gunning for his sixth AMA Motocross title this season. "I won there a couple of times on the 125s, but I just haven't been able to get it done in the 250 class yet. I'll approach the race like I do every race and hopefully that will be good enough to get a victory there."

Three former 250 Hangtown winners will take to the track Sunday. Defending race champ Sebastien Tortelli of Team Honda, is joined by Yamaha's David Vuillemin and KTM rider John Dowd. All three former winners come into Hangtown ranked in the top 10. Frenchman Tortelli is second in the standings, while countryman Vuillemin is fourth and New Englander Dowd is eighth.

Local fans will be cheering for Steve Lamson, a native of nearby Pollock Pines, Calif. The 31-year-old former two-time AMA 125 Motocross Champion is riding with a right leg that is not yet fully healed from a major compound fracture he suffered during the AMA Supercross season. This weekend "Lammy" will ride a Ferracci Husqvarna in the 250 class.

The story of the 125 class so far this season is 16-year-old rookie sensation James Stewart. The Kawasaki rider from Haines City, Fla., etched his name in the record books last weekend in San Bernardino by becoming one of the few riders to earn a victory in their debut AMA national motocross race. Stewart has quickly become a fan favorite due in large part to his likable personality and his go-for-broke riding style. The old racing adage of a rider or driver who either "wins or crashes" fits Stewart to a tee. Of course in Stewart's case he often does both, as happened last weekend in the 125 series opener.

Grant Langston, last year's Hangtown 125 winner, is ranked second. He turned in a strong performance after coming back to his first race since having knee surgery last month. Reed has helped bring KTM, an Austrian-based motorcycle manufacturer, back to prominence in U.S. motocross racing. Langston, a South African who recently signed a two-year contract extension with KTM, came heartbreakingly close to winning the 125 championship last year. The title was lost to Mike Brown in the final moto of the season when a rear wheel broke on his bike. Suffice to say that motivation is not a problem for Langston.

Australian Chad Reed is a newcomer to AMA Motocross. He was the runner-up in the FIM 250 Motocross World Championships last year and he comes to Hangtown third in the AMA 125 championship. Reed hopes to give Yamaha its first 125 victory at Hangtown since Doug Henry won on the brand in 1991.

For ticket information for this weekend's race go to www.hangtownmx.com.

For immediate post-race results, points, live transponder scoring, in-depth series and rider information, regular columnists and much more, log onto USMotocross.com, the official website of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship. <pre> AMA CHEVY TRUCKS U.S. MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP HANGTOWN CLASSIC, SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA SHEDULE OF EVENTS

SATURDAY, MAY 18, 2002 2:30 PM 125 Non-Seeded riders practice 2:50 PM 250 Non-Seeded riders practice 3:10 PM 125/250 Seeded riders practice 3:30 PM 125 Non-Seeded riders practice 3:50 PM 250 Non-Seeded riders practice 4:10 PM 125/250 Seeded riders practice 4:45 PM Pre-Qualifiers

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2002 8:45 AM Chapel Service 9:00 AM - 9:20 AM 125 National riders practice 9:20 AM - 9:40 AM 250 National riders practice 9:45 AM - 10:00 AM 125 National riders practice 10:00 AM - 10:15 AM 250 National riders practice 10:30 AM to completion Qualifiers 12:30 PM Opening Ceremonies 1:00 PM Moto 1- 125 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 2:00 PM Moto 1- 250 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 3:30 PM Moto 2- 125 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 4:20 PM Moto 2- 250 National- 30 mins, plus 2 laps 5:30 PM Victory Circle

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