Glen Helen hosted a benefit ride day for Nathan Woods on February 23, 2011. The location was perfect and so was the turn out as Nathan’s family, friends and fans came out in large numbers to ride and pay their respects to the fallen champion. In fact, there were so many people that they had to split up practice because the track was getting too crowded. The riding was great thanks to the previous rain and the clouds that hung around all day keeping the track nice and moist and also quite chilly.
Things to be found in the pits were a huge silent auction where you could find everything from a signed Grant Langston jersey to a special edition bottle of Nathan Woods Wine and tons of other goodies all ready to go to the highest bidder. The best battle of the day wasn’t even on the track. It was between Factory KTM’s Kurt Caselli and the guy who carried around a bunch of cash. The two were bidding on a Motocross Des Nations hat signed by Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard, Andrew Short and Roger DeCoster. Kurt barely won taking the hat for $750. Talk about a long moto!
At the end of the day just about everybody was wearing a blue and yellow Nathan Woods wristband and nearly every car in the parking lot had a Nathan Woods #54 sticker in the rear window. All who attended clearly loved Nathan as a family or friend, and even as a fan. It was great to see so many people come out to show their support from such a small industry. Nathan will live on and be remembered by many as one of the toughest guys on the track and one of the nicest to walk the pits.
GODSPEED “WOODY” 1/3/78 – 1/28/11
Dirt Rider: When you worked with Nathan, what was something that made him stand out the most compared to some of the other guys that you worked with?
Rodney Smith: Nathan was one of those riders who would always give you 120%. He wasn’t afraid to get in there and stick a wheel on anybody whenever he needed to. He might not always have been the most talented rider on the track, but he was the one who worked the hardest and really dug down. You could always count on him to finish in events such as the Six Days. He could have a broken wrist and he’s going to get to the finish. Nathan was a good hard worker and a great guy to work for, it was fun working with him and we have some cool memories from back then.Dirt Rider: You and Nathan are pretty good buddies. What is one of the most fun times you had together?
Kurt Caselli: I met Nathan riding the WORCS series when it first started back in 2003, and he was killing it and won championships back to back. We decided it would be good for him to go to the ISDE with us because he is so mentally strong and physically, he’s an animal. We went to Greece and that was kind of the first time we actually got to hang out away from the WORCS series and I saw a different side to Nathan that I didn’t really know. At the races he was always real serious and he was there to work. So we got away from that and when we went to ISDE we hade some time to screw around, have fun and joke around. We were there just playing pranks on each other. We had the east coast guys in one rental car and the west coast guys in the other driving to the different special tests and I’m glad he was on our side because he was ruthless when it came to pranks. He always wanted to one-up the other guy. It was a great time and I got a lot of memories from that Six Days. I ended up getting knocked out and was out of the race after day 3 and he was able to carry the team to a 3rd place podium finish. I was fortunate enough to spend time with him in the last Six Days, which was just a few months ago in Mexico. He was the same old Nathan just wanting to have fun and we had a lot of good times there as well. I’m going to cherish those times forever and I’ll always have good memories of him.
Dirt Rider: Working for Nathan as his mechanic, what was something cool that you noticed about him and his personality?What was a good memorable moment about Nathan that you want to share?
Charles Jirsa (Nathan’s Mechanic): For someone who was such a fierce competitor on the track, the guy was one of the toughest there is. When the gate dropped there was nobody more hungry to win, and as soon as that checkered flag came out he was by far one of the coolest people in the pits. He treated everybody like family and friends, and never considered himself to be above and better than anybody else. He was a real down home good to be around person and he’s going to be missed.One of the earliest memories I have of Nathan and us being friends was back in 2005 when we were racing together with Zip-Ty Yamaha. We were at a WORCS race in Texas and we were goofing off in the rental car one night just being typical racers having too much fun. That by far is one of my best memories. Another one was actually here when we were racing the 24 hours of Glen Helen in 2004. He came by me around midnight on a ridgeline and just made me feel like I was parked. It was unreal. We joked about that for a long time.