Mammoth Mountain Motocross Vet Weekend Photo Report - Dirt Rider Magazine

John Dowd holeshot all four Vet Pro motos, and he was joined at or near the front by the other fuel-injected '08 RM-Z450s in the class. Apparently, at least at altitude, EFI is better than a carburetor. McGrath (2) is just behind Dowd, but fully aggressive, forward and sideways on rough chop, and this is a full-throttle fourth gear section of the Mammoth Mountain uphill!
Even when MC put a pass on Dowd in three of their four motos, Dowd lived up to his Junkyard Dog nickname and never let up the pressure. Over the weekend these two riders battled at this distance or less for almost an hour!
It is quite normal for industry types to dig out their race togs for Mammoth. It's tradition for a rider from Dubach Racing to show up. Usually the rider is Doug Dubach, but a testing conflict meant PR guy and psycho Raider football fan Terry Beal had to fly the flag for the company. He did the boss proud.
AXO designer Kenny Safford is another industry guy who treats Mammoth as the only serious race of the year. This massive holeshot in the main event pleased him. Check out the suspension trying to deal with a mega-chuckhole in the first turn.
It is difficult to see the roughness and steepness of the famed Mammoth downhill, but this shot tries. It is about 10-times nastier in person. McGrath says it is one of his favorite parts of the track.
Your average vet-class rider does not attack the top of the Mammoth downhill like this. But, then again, Ty Davis isn't an average vet. He may have been an off-road legend for over 15 years, but he was also a factory motocross star in his youth.
"Factory" Phil Lawrence has raced only once in the last year and a half, but he nabbed a solid fourth place in Vet Pro on a KTM 505 that he termed "almost too much." At 9000-feet elevation, most bikes have barely enough power. He railed this off-camber tree turn.
Moto-legend Jeff Ward showed up with a bum knee, and hoped he could ride careful, have fun and still do well, but he twisted it, and started thinking more about golf.
In addition to battling tooth and nail with MC, John Dowd smoked the 40 pro class. That means he had to ride twice as many laps each day as any other rider in the vet pro classes. He was able to relax and play like this in the 40 class.
Mammoth sports an infamous off-camber tree turn that has been the site of many key race-ending goof-ups. Wonder why they wrap the tree with a big pad?
Four turns into the final moto of the weekend and Dowd and MC are already battling for the lead. Dowd handled the pressure for half the race, slipped to second and continued to pressure McGrath in return. MC could have handled the pressure, but his front tire couldn't hold it. It went flat on the final lap of the weekend! Surely not the outcome that the fans or the riders wanted.
Former DR test rider Derek Natvig is a long-time Kawasaki employee formerly in Team Green and R&D;, but he is better known as the husband of multi-time woman's MX champs Mercedes Gonzales. He races twice a year, and had a strong first day at Mammoth, but was buffeted by rocks and falls on Sunday.
Here is another look at how tight the McGrath/Dowd battle was.
Despite close racing, neither Dowd nor McGrath ever followed the other rider directly but sought a slightly different line at all times.
McGrath looked supremely confident on the downhill despite having a hand come off the bar a few times there in the first moto of the weekend.
Multi-athlete Shaun Palmer was in Vet Pro as well, but didn't battle with the ex-factory stars much.
Carter Gurnee of was another industry guy in Vet Pro.
Two other industry types were Hart and Huntington team owner Carey Hart (46) and Suzuki R&D; test wizard Rich Taylor. Taylor was a long-time Dirt Rider test rider and photo model credited with some of the most amazing test shots ever seen in the magazine. His son wasn't impressed at Mammoth, though, "Dad, why weren't you jumping the finish line?"
Andy Jefferson was one of the early and most successful black riders in the sport when he raced with the nickname Bro Show in the early '80s. He was also one of the early success stories of a fledgling Pro Circuit when it was a performance shop and a Husqvarna dealership. He rides with Ty Davis' team at WORCS these days.
Suzuki's Cole Gress was the man responsible for getting John Dowd to Mammoth, but he is also a racer who had a strong ride of his own.
Carey Hart is better known as a freestyle innovator, but he started out as a racer, and still runs strong at Mammoth in Vet Pro.