Last year, the sounds and smells of 125’s filled the air at the 2016 Washougal National. It was all part of a dream that Joey Lancaster believed he could turn into reality. He started the 125 Dream Race as an amateur event six years ago at Washougal, and after the success of the Invitational, it was expanded to a three-race series for 2017. The 2017 Hangtown MX National was the first of the FMF 125 Dream Race Invitational Triple Crown, so it only seemed fitting that we talked with Joey about all things two-stroke.
Did you ever see the 125 Dream Race getting to this point?
We were laughing about that. James Hanson from Rockstar Energy Drink and I used to work together and travel around as promotion and marketing managers in the Northwest, we’re both from up there. We always joked and had a good time driving, we spent a lot of time in a van and we were actually talking about this earlier. I was really in denial that this was going to happen. We’ve been scrambling, and it’s been kind of last minute. MX Sports hit us up, along with Donnie from FMF, and wanted to make this happen. I knew we had to make it happen, and I told them, “Let’s bring 125’s back.” Our original 125 Dream Race is up at Washougal, and we always do that in the fall. It’s a full amateur event, full of all kinds of two-stroke classes, with emphasis on the 125 Novice and 125 Master classes. This will be our sixth year doing that. Last year we were able to do a 125 Dream Race Invitational at Washougal. MX Sports looked at that along with some other people linked to the series and felt that it was something that would fit their schedule. It’s an exhibition race with only a couple of laps, and we deal with TV time restrictions, so we were able to work it out. We wanted to do a full West coast series to get things going, but Glen Helen, unfortunately, had their own two-stroke race, but the guys this year at Hangtown were able to jump on board along with Thunder Valley and Washougal.
Give me a rundown of the history of the 125 Dream Race.
I grew up racing 125’s when I was younger, and a big part of what we try to do at the 125 Dream Race is to bring the fun back and put pressure on the industry and manufacturers. We’re trying to show them that people will still race these bikes if they’re available. It’s also trying to make racing more accessible to those kids watching it on TV. We definitely need $10,000 dirt bikes at the higher levels of racing, we need that in motocross, but I think we need to look into that stepping stone as an industry because we’re starting to take away the first few stairs to the top. It’s hard for those kids to make that adjustment, financially and talent-wise.
Is there a 125 culture that has culminated in the Northwest?
There’s definitely a culture to it, but a lot of it is the community too. There’s a lot of older guys that have been buying these bikes and building them for a local fast kid to race in our fall original. I think you’re seeing that culture come out. Also, you might not know how to build the engine in a 125, but your buddy or your dad, or his dad, or someone in the community for that matter, has done it before and it brings people together. Not to mention, grassroots, brick-and-mortar motorcycle dealerships might not sell a CR125 filter all year long, but before our race, they’re selling six of them. It’s cool to talk to those dealers and see how excited they are about it as well.
How did you make the connections with FMF and MX Sports?
I think a big part of it is trying to get big publications, like TransWorld Motocross, and other magazines, into what we’re doing. We want to show people the fun side of things. When you leave an event, you might not remember who won or a big crash, but you’ll always remember how you feel. If we can get people excited and remind them how fun motorcycles really are, who knows what it could be in the future? We want to show them that there’s a spot for 125’s and there’s definitely people that want to race them. It builds the community of people that want to race them and buy the parts and accessories, and at the end of the day, hopefully, new 125s.
With this being the second year that the 125 Dream Race is a part of the outdoor series, what are the coolest bikes that you’ve seen for this race?
This would be our second year of doing this as an invitational, but this the first year of the FMF 125 Dream Race Triple Crown. As far as the cool bikes, it’s all across the board. It’s sort of like cars, you’ll see some new, high-end 2017 car roll off the line, but you look back and think, “Maybe that ’68 Camaro beats that.” You see the new KTM’s, Husky’s, and Yamaha’s roll through, but then maybe you see an old Honda too. We had a ’96 CR125 out there today, and the owner was stoked and having tons of fun. You see a lot of those old bike builds, and a lot of mechanics and guys here on the teams are excited to see that stuff because it brings back memories. It all comes back to the community, you see the guys that have done it before and the kids that are excited to race a 125. Two of the kids that were on the podium today were just happy to race a 125 and they missed that era. To answer your question, it’s all of the bikes! The new ones are always cool, but you also see those Craigslist specials that were brought home and rebuilt.
For anyone who wants to get involved in this race, how would someone do that?
You can go to 125dreamrace.com, that has all of the information on these FMF 125 Dream Race Triple Crown races, as well as our original 125 Dream Race up at Washougal. That’s going to be the final weekend in August the 26th and 27th I believe. You can go there to get all of the information. Like I said, it’s all about building the community and bringing back the first few steps that we all enjoyed as amateurs and moving into the pro ranks, and making that available to everybody.
What is your vision for the future of this race? Do you see it staying a triple crown, or would you like to expand to more rounds?
I always want to continue doing the amateur races because that’s a ton of fun the whole time. I think if we could bring something like that here, we would end up doing some sort of an invitational. Most of the nationals do some sort of amateur racing before the pro day. We had so many emails from people on top of the guys that were invited, it could be really good to do some sort of qualifier during the amateur racing for a spot on the line for the Saturday program with the same format. It would allow the riders around those National rounds to qualify the day or two before and be a part of that. There are some past factory guys that are out there, but there’s also those guys that are a fast local A rider, and they were always busy working and never had the chance to race a National, it’s an opportunity for them to reach their dreams.