Good Vibes, Cold Brews And Fast Memories: The 2023 Carlsbad MX Reunion

Good Vibes, Cold Brews And Fast Memories: The 2023 Carlsbad MX Reunion

Can’t believe it has been seven years since Jimmy Mac On Two Wheels attended a Carlsbad MX Reunion. Man, what was I thinking? The annual gathering at the Vista, California, Booze Brothers Brewing Company (that is a stone’s throw from the sacred ground of the former Carlsbad Raceway) is not an event that any self-respecting former motocross racer should ever miss. This year’s gathering drove that point home.

First, Gerrit Wolsink, the 5-time winner of the Carlsbad USGP, made the trip from the Netherlands to attend the event. Event promoters Scott and Debbie Burnworth and JT Racing’s founders John and Rita Gregory (both close friends of Mr. Wolsink) arranged transportation and lodging for the legend (and I do not use that term lightly).

Second, Larry and son Jeff Grismer who ran Carlsbad Raceway were in the house. Both men are tough characters but they had to be to keep the track open from 1964 until 2004. Larry was proud of the big events but gave props to all of us “normal” riders who showed up every weekend and kept the place alive.

Third, Stu Peters who with his partner, the late Calvin Franks, ran the CMC motocross events that attracted the huge number of amateur motocross racers who were the lifeblood of the raceway.

Fourth, and most important, in attendance were hundreds of former racers, from world-ranked professionals to So-Cal amateurs, who all have fond memories of the track where hard lessons were learned and lifelong friendships were formed.

Don’t want to sound like an old dude, but brothers and sisters, we only have so much time left. Missing another Carlsbad MX Reunion is no longer an option. If you ever set a knobby on the Carlsbad Raceway starting gate, you owe it to yourself to be at the 2024 reunion.

Awesome swag: The auction had some killer items including those beautiful replica Gerrit Wolsink helmets. One went to So-Cal Pro Steve Bauer for $1000 (way to go, Steve). The other was picked up by David Bailey.
Fast Suzuki dudes: It is the people who make the reunion a success. From left is Aki Goto, Gerrit Wolsink and Scott Burnworth. Aki should write a book about all his experiences working with top road race and motocross professionals.
Autograph collector: CMC’s Stu Peters signs the Motocross The Golden Era book for Kurt Brunner. Kurt was a flagman at Carlsbad Raceway and probably saved a bunch of lives in his day. If you are into collecting autographs, it doesn’t get much better than at the reunion.
It’s the people: Jack McCormick, yours truly, Rick Johnson and Sue Fish. Where else can you rub shoulders with heroes like this? Rick stole the microphone from Scott Burnworth at one point and had the place cracking up. Rick is entertaining on and off the bike.
The Motocross Bible: Dave Dewhurst was selling his book, Motocross The Golden Era. The 484-page coffee table book chronicles what I feel are the most important years in the formation of motocross in America and beyond. If moto is in your blood, you will not be disappointed with this book.
Pleased to meet you: I had never met Darryl Bassani (right), who I feel paved the way for other pipe builders like Pro Circuit, FMF and DG. Thanks to Broc Glover (center) for making the introduction and Darryl, it is about time I got to shake hands with you!
Stories galore: The crowd was treated to stories without any filters. Gerrit Wolsink, Scott Burnworth and Larry Grismer could have talked for an hour and no one would have complained.
Passing of the guard: There were plenty of bikes on display but these two tell an important history. The CZ (9x) was the bike of choice for amateur racers in the early 70’s but that Honda Elsinore behind it represents an invasion that ended European brand motocross dominance. Times were changing.
Unrecognizable: I totally didn’t recognize Mike Craig when he walked up to me. I expected him to be old! I think he is more fit now than when he was racing. When I was Editor of Motocross Journal, Mike was a favorite to interview and photograph. Reunions are bitchin’.
See you next year: Tom Pearl (red shirt) says hello to Larry Grismer at the 2015 reunion. Tom, who introduced me to CMC racing and Mammoth Mountain in the early 70’s, has some health issues that prevented him from attending this year. He was missed. Don’t put off attending this event next year.