Eli Tomac, the season’s hottest professional motocross rider, pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind victory last weekend, winning the 450 Washougal National title at Washougal MX Park on Saturday, July 28.
Tomac crashed early in the race, but managed to put in some blistering lap times to catch up to — and then pass last year’s winner, Marvin Musquin.
The win was Tomac’s seventh this season.
A few local riders also put on good shows at the National Lucas Oil Pro Motocross race, including Tommy Weeck from Washougal who finished 18th out of more than 70 professional riders in the 250cc class.
Weeck recently purchased property adjacent to the Washougal MX Park, where he now owns and operates Rise Mx, a motocross training school for up-and-coming riders.
Many of Weeck’s current students took part in the amateur races July 26-27.
“Racing is something I still enjoy, and you probably won’t see me stop doing this for a long time because my goal is to race in this National until my nephew, who is 6 years old, races his first one,” Weeck said.
Mason Wharton, a professional rider from Brush Prairie, finished 30th in the 250cc class. Having recently recovered from shoulder surgery, this was the first time Wharton has raced in Washougal in three years.
The 23-year-old Wharton has traveled the globe as a professional motocross and supercross rider since he was a sophomore in high school.
“Racing in Washougal is so relaxing, because I don’t have to go to a hotel. I can go to my own place and eat and just wake up and go to the track like I used to do in the old days,” he said.
Carson Brown, who is from Ravensdale, Washington, in the Puget Sound area, finished 23rd in the 450cc class. It was his first professional race on the Washougal track.
“Ever since I was a little kid, everyone’s always talked about Washougal and how it’s one of the best tracks in the world. So, it’s really cool coming out here,” Brown said.
Justin Hill, from Yoncalla, Oregon, also had a great day racing in Washougal, and finished ninth out of 450.
Hot weather bakes legendary track
Professional riders consider the shadowy, fir tree-lined track in Washougal one of the most unique courses in the world, but few have ever seen the track as challenging as it was during this year’s national motocross event.
With temperatures in the mid- to upper 90s all week, no amount of water sprayed on the dirt could keep the red clay from packing down. It made for unusually slick conditions, which created many memorable moto moments for professionals as well as for the hundreds of amateur racers who competed on the track on the days leading up to Saturday’s big, professional race.
For the estimated 20,000 people who flock to Washougal to enjoy the spectacle every year, the heat was something most had planned for, bringing plenty of water and sunscreen.
Nick Knudsen, of North Bend, Washington, brings his RV to the Washougal MX Park every year. This year, he arrived on Tuesday, four days before the biggest race, so he wouldn’t miss a single second of the action.
“When I was a kid, this was a race I never missed. I just keep coming back, and now my daughter, Caden, gets to enjoy it with me,” Knudsen said.
The father-daughter duo stayed cool, swimming in the Washougal River every day and drinking afternoon milkshakes at K&M Drive-In in Camas, a spot that has become a bit of a family tradition.
“I just love coming to Washougal with my dad, because we both love motocross so much,” Caden Knudsen, 7, said.