Founded in March 1968, the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club (DDNMC) embarked on a plan to present a motocross competition that would bring top riders to Northern California. As a result, the Hangtown Motocross Classic was born.
The story actually starts in 1967, when a group of local motorcycle enthusiasts met at Marion Pyle's bike shop, the Orangevale Motorcycle Center. They hoped to bring big-time motorcycle racing to the area, and that meeting set the stage for the creation of the DDNMC. From the beginning, the founders-Ed Clark, Carl Cranke, Dave Duarte, Don Fallon, Don Fischer, Bill Groom, Kurt McKimmy, Gene Nunes, Ray Nelson, Bill Onga, Joe Pyle, and Roy Tillus-wanted to stage their own race, and a big one at that!
The first DDNMC race was held at Murray's Ranch outside of Placerville in 1969. The race took its name from the Gold Rush days, when Placerville was known as "Hangtown." With a turnout of about 150 sportsman riders and 30 pros, the event (with its $600 pro purse) set the stage for Hangtown's future. The day ended with Larry Mulock, Gary Bailey, and Dick Mann sharing the winner's podium.
"You had to drive down Diamond Bar Road, and I remember how we had to drag out just about every single person afterward because of the mud," Dave Duarte says of that first race.
DDNMC has hosted some of the wildest and most successful motorcycle events since the world of motocross came into being. However, the old days at the Placerville sand pit are now long gone, as are the hangovers and all-night parties. Also gone are "Bad" Brad Lackey hopping on the bulldozer to help build the track, the Saturday-night mechanics' races with 250cc Bultaco motors stuffed into minibike frames, and more of the good old days.
All this changed when the race outgrew the sleepy hillsides of Placerville, with its two-lane roads and the old-fashioned thinking of some local residents who didn't like the changes brought by the races (or their thousands of spectators). So in 1979, the Club and the Sacramento County Department of Parks and Recreation put together a permanent facility at the Prairie City OHV Park in Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento. Eventually, the State OHV Department took control of the park and, in conjunction with DDNMC, has provided permanent sprinklers, fencing, restrooms, running water, gazebos, a state-of-the-art announcing tower, and other facilities.
While Hangtown predates the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, a national series was the dream of the founders more than 40 years ago. The DDNMC is proud to own and produce the longest-running motocross national of all, the Hangtown Motocross Classic. announcing tower, and other facilities.
Today, the Hangtown Motocross Classic is big business. Almost three dozen members meet three to four times a month to prepare for the following year's race. Even though the club is comprised of volunteers, the members commit to full-time work assignments to get their jobs done. In addition to the weekly meetings, required rides, and individual work assignments, DDNMC members commit to a three-week period in May to take the Prairie City track from its normal state to one fit for an AMA Pro Motocross National. The club takes "possession" of the track in early May and brings together hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to transform the track.
The result is the continuation of a classic - the Hangtown Motocross Classic - at the only event on the schedule still run by a motorcycle club.