Longtime Washougal Motocross Park owner Ralph Huffman will be posthumously inducted into the Washington State Motorcycle Hall of Fame (WSMHOF) this week.
The WSMHOF will hold a ceremony on Friday, Oct 8, at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Washington, welcoming five new members, including Hoffman, to its ranks.
“It’s just really nice that he’s (being) recognized for what he’s done for the sport,” said Ryan Huffman, Ralph’s son and Washougal Motocross Park manager. “We’ll call it icing on the cake. It’s well deserved. We’re very grateful and blessed to see this happen. I think he’d say, ‘Oh, you don’t need to waste your time on me’ and that kind of stuff, but at the same time, he’d be honored and humbled, I’m sure.”
Ralph, who died on March 22, 2021, at the age of 83, was known as one of the most prominent figures in the history of Pacific Northwest motocross 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.”
Ralph 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.
“There was a friend of his (who ran) a flat track in Roseburg, Oregon, and they needed some help, and I think he lent a dozer and grader and helped them. He was good on that stuff,” Ryan said. “Then he continued on with a local track called Clark’s Branch. (Later), my brothers started racing, and he started really supporting the sport and went from there. At one point, he owned a bike shop in southern Oregon and sponsored a lot of the riders. I think he bought the bike shop just to help out riders (rather than for fiscal benefit).
“He never rode because of his prosthetic leg, but he was always so good at doing the work on the track, and he loved the sport and understood the sport. It’s kind of funny for a man that never rode to be that involved with the sport.”
Ralph worked diligently over the years to upgrade the Washougal 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 after Ralph’s death.
“In all honesty, he never did this for fiscal reasons,” Ryan said. “It was always for the people and to keep the track open. There were plenty of years when he put his money out of his own pocket to keep it open when it didn’t break even. He did it for literally the love of the people in the sport, and (to make sure that) people had a nice place to come and enjoy it. He kept (the park) alive when it started struggling in the mid-80s, and now we’re prospering, and hopefully my family, with me and my brother Rod at the forefront, can keep it open for the rest of the people to enjoy the same (experience).”
Ralph 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.”
Ralph will be remembered for his strong work ethic, sunny disposition and family-friendly focus, according to Ryan.
“Obviously, Washougal is right in the center of (his legacy) — the big national-level track, how we kept it open and what he did back in the day to fund the first national (event) and all that,” Ryan said. “But bigger than that, he was all about) the kids and the families, giving them a good track and keeping this place open and seeing them come enjoy it together. He loved that.
“And people on the outside would just say the man worked really, really hard. Even with his wooden leg, he was always walking and working and watering and picking up garbage and picking up rocks and everything all day long. And (he did it with) a smile. He always had a big smile for all the people that were here. I don’t know if he ever frowned at anybody too much.”