Sunday, July 05, 2009
Kit Carson Park Scrambles Race - 1969
Really turned up the dial my personal "Way-Back Machine" with this bit of film.
I was in my senior year of high school at Orange Glen High School in Escondido, California and mad for motorcycles, probably much more than I am now. I belonged to the school's Interact Club, one of those Rotary Club sponsored student clubs designed to teach young people about civic duty and charitable work. I suggested to the club and our adviser, that we work with the Brush Barons Motorcycle Club to put on a scrambles race at large, undeveloped piece of land south of town. The land, already known as Kit Carson Park, was to become a developed city park eventually. "Cool idea, Doug! Way better than a Saturday car wash!"
From hanging around motorcycle shops I already knew some guys in the Brush Barons and I tossed the race idea to them and they in turn sold it to the City Council as a fund raiser for the first playground slated to be built at the park. Off we went.
The Brush Barons would do the organization and run the race, and our school club members would act as corner workers and such. It was all a grand plan except for the part where I neglected to clear any of this with the school principal. It did not even occur to me to do that, after all, it was all about doing a good deed and who could find fault with that?
When news of the race made it into the local paper as "When 200 motorcyclists roar into town..." Faster than you can say "Bikers pillage small California town" I got yanked into unfamiliar territory, the office of Mr. Ross, the high school principal. I was told in no uncertain terms that the school club would immediately disassociate itself from the event. Our dear school principal, Mr. R., who probably knew little of motorcycles beyond watching the old Marlon Brando movie "The Wild One", really thought that two hundred men were going to ride their bikes into our little town of Escondido and hold a motorcycle race. Shades of the Hollister Riot!
Nothing I could say to Mr. R. about expensive and specialized racing bikes, the American Motorcycle Association, AMA sanctioned motorcycle clubs, or raising money for charity made any difference. Orange Glen High School would not be associated with possible the sacking and pillaging of the city by a motorcycle club, period. I was devastated to find my hopes and plans cast in the worst possible light.
So officially our school club was out but I and all my fellow club members still showed up on race day and did our job as corner workers and we had a blast! It was a hundred times better and louder and less responsible than a stupid car wash!
It was a fine motorcycle event with an interesting course that had some super sticky water crossings and fast flat hard pack dirt sections. The race had a great turn out of riders and spectators too. One Escondido City Councilman at the race was heard to say "This is great!! We need more events like this!" Of course that never came to be; the Kit Carson Park scrambles race was arranged as a one time only deal and it stayed that way.
A month or so later when the bills from the race were paid the Brush Barons went to the next city council meeting and presented the Council with a check for $500, not a small amount in those days, in fact equal to a month's pay for lots of folks. The Council was astonished at the amount and one member told the Brush Barons club president after the meeting "We thought you guys were going to show up and give us fifty bucks!"
In due course the kids playground was built and a plaque was put up noting all the civic groups that donated money to the building of the playground. There was no mention of the Brush Barons M/C or the 200 riders who had roared into to town to hold a motorcycle race and raise some money for little kids.
Typical uptight "citizen" that he was, the school Principal never called me back into his office and said "Oops, sorry. You were right." Or maybe I wasn't right? Maybe I should have asked for permission first but I have always understood from that time on that motorcyclists, regardless of who we were, what type of bike we rode, or what we did, would always be outside the mainstream just a little and sometimes a lot. After forty years I prefer it that way. And I have learned, as the old saying goes "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission."
Here ya go, dirt scrambles racing at Kit Carson Park in Escondido:
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An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison