Local motocross leader dead at 83

Ralph Huffman, who took over ownership at Washougal track in ’90s, died March 22

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Washougal MX Park owner Ralph Huffman, who died March 22, 2021, was known for his expert ability to operate heavy machinery, especially bulldozers. (Contributed photos courtesy of Ryan Huffman)

One of the most prominent figures in the history of Pacific Northwest motocross racing has died.

Longtime Washougal MX Park owner Ralph Huffman died March 22, at 83.

His family members have not publicly revealed his cause of death, but wrote in a Feb. 5 Facebook post that Huffman had been diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year.

“No easy way to put this, but we lost a great one today,” Huffman’s son, Ryan Huffman, wrote in a March 22 Facebook post. “I love you to the fullest, Dad. So grateful blessed for (the) time we’ve had. Amazing what he’s brought to motocross, especially in the Northwest.”

The elder Huffman grew up in Roseburg, Oregon, and enjoyed a long career in the timber industry after co-founding Huffman and Wright Logging in 1956. He began helping out at the Washougal track in 1980, assumed the rights to the lease of the park’s property in the late 1980s and obtained full ownership in the 1990s.

Ralph Huffman upgraded the facility in the hopes of turning it into one of the United States’ best racing venues. The American Motocross Association’s annual Washougal National event has become one of the sport’s “marquee showcases,” according to a press release issued by MX Sports pro racing.

“The vibrant motocross scene of the Pacific Northwest, which is among the most passionate in the country, simply would not carry the prominence it does without the influence of Ralph Huffman,” MX Sports Pro Racing president Davey Coombs stated in the press release. “His passion and his unique vision rejuvenated the Washougal National and made the scenic Washougal MX Park a destination for any motocross fan. More importantly, through his love of the sport he fostered a community of enthusiasts that is bigger and stronger than ever.”

Huffman also focused on developing the Pacific Northwest’s emerging amatuer motocross scene by providing a variety of practice sessions, competitions and other events to riders of all ages and skill levels.

“For motocross enthusiasts throughout the region, Washougal is hallowed ground,” according to the press release. “It is a symbol of everything they love about the sport. On weekends throughout the year, riders will come by the hundreds to set up camp and take advantage of the opportunity to sprint up Horsepower Hill and weave in and out of the trees that surround the track. It’s one of the most unique and captivating experiences the sport has to offer, and none of it would be possible without Ralph Huffman’s willingness to make his dream a reality all those years ago.”

Huffman “will be greatly missed, but his impact on the sport will never be forgotten,” according to Coombs.

“He was our leader,” the Huffman family wrote on the park’s Facebook page on March 23. “He never stopped working or thanking the workers around him. He tried his hardest to leave a smile on everyone’s face and did so. Every National, he always had a pocket full of pins you could stick in your hat. If you were lucky and caught him between jobs and asked for one, you’re lucky to have a piece to his story, a piece of Washougal, that he wanted to share with us all.”

Huffman is survived by his wife, Carolyn; nine children; and at least 30 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.