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District 14 Champ! And Other Youth Racing Memories

By Brett Smith

This brand started as a way to celebrate our connection to dirt bikes, whether we still ride regularly or not at all. The point is that we went fast. You rode five minutes ago? You went fast. 5 decades ago? You went fast.

And if there isn’t a bike in the garage present day, you still love riding. It’s a part of us forever. Here’s a fun anecdote from my own racing life, complete with a touch of bravado and whimsical exaggeration. This is an expanded version of what was posted on Instagram on Nov. 12, 2022.

Thirty years ago this month I won the AMA District 14 Motocross Championship in the 80cc 12-15 class. Being a ‘state’ champion felt like a BIG deal. And it was to a 13-year-old. Especially when you got to look forward to the year-end banquet where your name would be called last (“and the CHAMPION!”) and you hoped that fact alone would impress your competition’s sisters enough that they wanted to dance with you when the DJ started spinning. And those cheap polyester jackets with the chintzy embroidery were almost worth the thousands of dollars your parents spent dragging you around to races for nine months.  

Motocoss, 90sMoto, Cycle News, 1992
D-14 Final Standings written up by Jan Darden, who was the wife of D-14 commissioner Bob Darden. I wonder if Nick Wey and Josh Woods ever went pro?

Yup. In 1992 Team MotoSports (corner of N. Saginaw Rd. and M-57!) and #809 brought home the bacon. That’s Marketing 101 right there. We kicked ass on Sundays and sold on Mondays (as long as you were able to visit MotoSports in the limited Monday hours of 1-5 pm). Nathan Miller, Jason “Bickington”, Steven “Swelt” and Chris Beckington (very close relation to Mr. “Bickington” were formidable competitors. I traded many moto wins with Mr. Miller and lost a few overalls to those Bickington boys but nobody in the 80 ‘Senior’ class could match the speed of that 1992 Honda CR80.

And, we probably just simply raced way more D-14 events that season than anyone else!

On a serious note, that was a fun year of racing. And we badly needed it. In 1990 I suffered a couple of scary injuries. One was in November at the Florida Winter Olympics where I woke up in a CAT scan machine. I struggled mentally through 1991. And it didn’t help that I turned 12 just three weeks before the April 1, 1991 cutoff date. Even though the season started in March, I had to move up to the 12-15 class where I raced against riders aged 14 and 15 years old. It was a season of beatdowns yet we still qualified for the Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur Motocross National Championship.

But I broke my arm a couple of weeks before the event.

So it goes.

Motocoss, 90sMoto, MotoSports, 1992
Brett Smith wearing his favorite Life’s A Beach cap and the MotoSports “Racing Through the 90s” jersey.

At some point in 1991, I rode Nick Wey’s Honda CR80. The Wey family visited over a weekend, probably while racing at nearby Baja Acres. In ’91, Terry Wey put Nick on the CR because Honda paid $500 per win in several different series (remember the Silverdome series?) and NYK just cleaned house and cleaned up the contingency in the 7-11 class.

I ripped a few starts in the backyard on that blood red rocket. That Honda had insane bottom end. And shredded on top. We were still riding the 1990 KX80s at that point and due for some new wheels. So, we switched. I rode a 1992 CR80 in the fall of 1991. And we stuck with Hondas until I went to college.

Motocoss, 90sMoto, MotoSports, 1992
I don’t know what happened to the “Champ” class jacket but the trophy sits in the We Went Fast world headquarters (I mean, my basement bunker office)

It’s a good thing that my college degree didn’t put me in debt because all I’m doing 30 years later is having Al Bundy moments where I write about how great I was. There’s even a 1996 Honda CR125 sitting in my garage waiting to be re-jetted and have its silencer reattached. That’s another story for another day.

Let the Good Times Roll. I mean, Ride Red. I mean, Relive The Fast.

And wear We Went Fast swag.

A note on the lead picture: do you recognize this jump at Baja Acres in Millington, Michigan?

This was taken next to that double in the northeast corner of the track. I can still remember how scary it was to gin up the courage to jump this because if you cased it (or overshot it) you flew into the forest.

Motocoss, 90sMoto, MotoSports, 1992
Brett Smith at Baja Acres in 1992. This was the tricky corner double in the northeast corner of the track.

There was a 90-degree right hand corner immediately after the landing. And there was NO lift on the takeoff going in this direction. Going the other way this double was really fun because you could seat bounce from the inside.

Thanks for reading. Share your own story in the comments or send me a DM on Instagram. And remember, stickers are free to newsletter subscribers. Just pull the welcome message out of your junk folder and follow the instructions.

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