Friday, February 8

Everything's coming up Jersey

This is renaissance time for the Garden State, unlike anything we've seen since 1986 (when Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi were both in their primes, and the New York Football Giants were headed toward a Superbowl title--and you do know that Giants Stadium is in New Jersey and not New York, by the way. Yes, 1986--it's retro time in Jersey now. Bust out the IROC-Z!).

The obvious one from 2008 is the G-Men winning the big game last week, but how about Jason Lawrence delivering not one but now two SX Lites wins for the Garden State, which makes him the first Dirt Jerseyite to ever win a supercross. Not even the great Barry Carsten won one, and not even the GOAT of Jersey, Mickey Kessler. Of course, Mick came along way before 125 or Lites Supercross, and as Timmy Coombs always said, "That's a win in the support class, so it doesn't count." Timmy, of course, only races CR500s.

So as the torch is now being passed from Kessler to Carsten and now to J-Law, let's give the OG of Jersey some love. Yesterday, Davey dug out this awesome COVER PHOTO of Mick the Quick from Dirt Bike Magazine in 1974!


Kessler was/is from Farmingdale, which is also the home of Bel-Ray, which is where my dad worked. So Kessler was a true God in my eyes since he would KILL it at our one local track, Englishtown, and one time (back in 1986, of course) he actually gave Bob Hannah a serious run for his money. E-town is like that, though. The big factory dudes would roll up and visit New York City and then just show up in time to race, leaving them hung over and prey for the locals. How do you think Carsten is able to win the 125 class at the Race of Champions every year?

A few other claims to fame for Kessler: In the seminal movie Winner's Take All, Rick Melon comes off the track from practice and his mechanic/girlfriend/trainer/coach says "Hey watch for #56 out there, he is totally out of control." The movie, of course, was shot in 1986 and that was Kessler's number that year!

I know this because in 1986 Dad took me to the Arenacross/Mud Bog/Monster Truck show in Madison Square Garden, and the two fastest riders were Kessler and (ironically) West Virginia's #777 Mike Bias. One of the gimmicks back then was to hold a State Championship race , and in the NY Arenacross it was billed as a battle between New Jersey riders and New York riders in a team race. Each state picked one rep, and which ever rep got to the finish first won the State Championship for his locale. The other riders where there to block, ram and take dudes out to aid their team leader. I was all pissed when Bias, a West Virginian, was announced as part of the New York team! And then New Jersey still led until the LAST TURN when about 15 New York guys just waited in the last corner to take the Jersey guy out, and a massive brawl broke out, and in the end the New York guy came from a LAP DOWN to win the Championship.

I was BEYOND pissed.

15 years later I got a job with Racer Productions and Rita Coombs told me that RP had actually run that Madison Square Garden event. And....and....AND....that State Championship race was STAGED!!!! That's worse than Santa Claus and the WWF.

One time I remember riding with my dad (me on the awesome Yamaha YFM80 Moto-4 ATV and my dad on the Honda ATC 125 THREE WHEELER) and all of a sudden two guys came along in mega-tricked-out Honda Odysseys, jumping stuff and bashing each other. It was awesome. Then they stopped to say hi--and one of the guys was Mickey Kessler!!!! I was probably 9 years old at the time and thought "wow there is nothing the man can't do." And you through RC to stock cars was impressive.

I did get to meet Mickey a few times, today he designs the track at E-town. I've stated before that I'm too scared to introduce myself to Carsten. And J-Law? Same deal, really. Back in my yellow flagger days at E-Town Lawrence was a tiny kid on the #38 RM80, and he would DESTROY the 85cc classes. He would also race Schoolboy as a 12-year-old against 15 year olds on 125s. They were some of the most fun races to watch, because J-Law would battled and bang the big kids and the big bikes the whole way and sometimes he would even win.

Then Team Green would send in their hot shots for the Race of Champions, and Lawrence would actually get beat by Nick Evveneuo and the Dougherty brothers. I remember saying, he was never gonna make it...

6 Comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Weege,

Just had to drop a note and say I've enjoyed your last couple of stories. I also really enjoyed the one about the time you flew to Unadilla.


Thanks,

M. Brown

Mom! Toilets blogged! said...

Hey! I remember that issue of Dirt Bike! I remember reading it in study hall during my third freshman year in high school.
I remember reading Super Hunky every month, who would have thought that a life time later he would be working for me at Trail Rider.
Yep, I'm Hunky's boss, this should prove to be entertaining, so watch your next copy of TR for the battles we will surely have.
Subscribe at www.trailrider.com
PS Please don't tell Hunky I am his boss, no need opening Pandemics Box.
Mom!

Scott Lukaitis said...

Jason-

Great article on the great state of New Jersey. I never realized that Kessler was on the cover of a magazine. I'll have to find a copy of that for my archives. From one Jersey guy to another keep up the great work.
Scott Lukaitis
njmotocross.com

Englishman in S.D said...

Weege
I'm from Jersey myself ... no, not New Jersey the place NJ was named after.
It's a small island in the English Channel 10 miles of the North Coast of France. Back in the day fishermen from the island would fish all the way across the Atlantic and end up on the East Coast. Then turn around and fish their way back home. At some point some of them decided to stay and not being overly original when coming up with a name for thier brand new home could only add "New" to the name of the place they just came from.Voila !! New Jersey !
Was that interesting or just utter bollocks to you ?

Jason Weigandt said...

Scott,
Thanks for the carrying the flag there in the Garden State. As dumb as this is, I've never written a story for Raceway News or did any announcing at E-Town, so I don't really build up my work there since all I contributed was yellow flagging. You, on the other hand, are a much better citizen.

Englishman,
I have ALWAYS wanted to know that (and this is real not sarcastic). Thanks!

- weege

scott lukaitis said...

Weege

If you are ever in the neighborhood give me a shout. I'm sure Richie Trevelise would enjoy sharing the mic with you.

Scott