Demons Of The Dirt

Attendance low, adrenaline high for Payson's first motocross


Many of Arizona's most accomplished motorcycle riders, but only handfuls of spectators, were attracted to Payson's first freestyle motocross race held last weekend in the Payson rodeo arena.

"We just didn't get many people out and I don't know why that happened," said Michelle Worth of E&E Paving. Worth and her husband Richard co-sponsored the event along with Canyon Offroad Park in Phoenix.

Some said the race -- tagged the Holiday Blow Out --wasn't well advertised, which might have been the reason for the low attendance.

"A lot of people just didn't know about it," a Phoenix-area spectator said.

Despite the lack of paid admissions, sponsors plan to return to Payson with a similar event sometime next spring, Worth said.

The inaugural races did attract a dedicated group of local racers eager to show their wares on the hastily constructed circuit track that featured a variety of jumps and obstacles.

One of the more well-known Payson entries was teenager Jimmy Vickers, who was making his first appearance on the racing circuit since suffering a broken jaw and wrist several months ago.

Saturday, on the first day of racing, Vickers rode his way to a third-place finish in the 125cc Junior Class.

In the Sunday race, he took an early lead with a strong hole shot, but a collision midway through sent him cartwheeling off the course. The youngster remounted his cycle, but could never make up lost ground and struggled to a seventh-place finish.

Another Payson entry in the class, newcomer Jesse Belcher, picked up the Rim country slack created by Vicker's misfortune with a second-place finish overall.

In the veteran beginner's class, Rim riders dominated the final standings, placing three among the top four finishers.

Ed Worth was first, Tony Menegon second and Richard Edgar fourth.

Edgar was participating in his first motocross race and said the event was a thrill. "I loved it," he said.

Should motocross return to Payson as sponsors have indicated, the 44-year-old Edgar says he'll happily participate.

"The first race made me want to go out and do it again," he said.

Unlike Edgar, Worth is a veteran of COP racing, having competed in 12 events this season. The win, however, was a first. In other races this season, his best efforts have been third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes.

Keeping the sport in the family, Worth's son, Bobby, was a second-place trophy winner in the 60cc beginner's class.

"He was really excited," his mother Michelle said. "It was a big day for him."

In the 125cc beginner's competition, brothers Shane and Kevin Perry celebrated their weekend birthday finishing 11th and 12th.

Bryan Dirren, in the 80cc beginners, finished tenth in a 13-person field.

Sponsored by Manzanita Cyclery, Payson rider Rick Winton rode away with a fourth-place trophy in the ATV four-wheeler competition.

Manzanita Cyclery owner John Lake said it's quite unusual for a bicycle shop to sponsor a motocross rider, but he opted to do so because many of the racers, including Winton, are turning to bicycling for physical conditioning.

Rounding out the Rim country entries in the races was Kohl's Ranch-sponsored Douglas Wang.

Competing in the beginner's 60cc class, the youngster rode his way to first-place finish. He followed up the gold-medal effort with a third-place showing in the ATV 80cc competition.

In addition to racing, the weekend competition was highlighted by halftime shows on both days featuring some of the state's most daring and skilled riders.

Billed as "Arizona's highest flying freestyle motocross team," the entertainers performed stunts and tricks at more than 30 feet in the air.

In addition to COP and E&E Paving, the races were sponsored by Roy Haught Excavating and Pueblo Inn.

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