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"BackTrack is like a trip down memory lane. It reveals the grass roots joy of those who founded our sport."

Motocross Action Magazine

Father Paul In the fall of 1999, I wrote a feature story for VMX magazine, the vintage motocross and dirt bike magazine dedicated to celebrating the men and machinery of dirt past. My story was about Paul "The Bazzer" Boudreau, the 1970's moto-journalist whose tall tales in the pages of Motocross Action magazine made us laugh so hard that our Jofas fell off. "The Baz" waxed philosophical about everything from junk food and Chinese laundries to alien motocross racers. Fun stuff, written during the gritty days of dirt bike journalism.

"The Baz" had what must've been the greatest job in the world: ride the latest motocross bikes, eat junk food, take in all the important races, shoot photos, hang out with Roger DeCoster, get stoned, write stories and then put it all into a magazine.

A pretty good gig, you might say.

That was Paul's life and he knew it was good. But in 1977, he gave it all up...just like that. Walking away from what seemed like everything, he went stumbling into nothing. He said he had heard "...something." He didn't know what it was, only that the voice had "awakened a spiritual component of my life." He knew only that he had to go away. After a brief stint of Israelite-style wandering, "The Baz" determined that what he heard was the voice of God. He delved into the Bible, got "switched on", wound up in seminary and is today a Catholic priest: Father Paul Boudreau.

I had long wanted to do this feature. I wanted to talk to him, both about racing and about his journey through life, The local Diocese helped me with an address and in my subsequent query to him, I wrote that I was intrigued, though not surprised by the fact that he had become a priest. The letter went off; to be honest, I did not expect a response. I was certain that a man of the cloth would not want to be reminded about spinning tales of talking motocross dogs and hands dyed fruity orange from new motocross gloves. He had told us stories of being stoned, then getting straight, only to come down with a case of the munchies so evil that he once threatened to eat a plastic ice cream model that was luring him to the Dairy Sweet's glass display case. Those stories were in his past and I figured that that was where he would wish them to stay...forever.

His response came swiftly...and it was positive. "I'll bite!" he wrote. "Let's do it!" And then he added a line that I count still as a fine compliment from such a creative talent. "If you are not surprised by my becoming a priest" he said, "then you must get it."

If you have stayed with me this far...then something tells me that you too, must "get it."

We know that when we are on our motocross bikes, especially one of the classic machines, that there is a three-way connection between rider, motorcycle and the natural element. There is truly something spiritual required of a rider as he is heading for a downhill jump at what could be accurately described as 'breakneck speed!' I have tried to explain it to those who don't ride. I use words like exhilarating, challenging and thrilling. I have told them that motocross is an "adrenaline-pumping activity that demands a level of concentration that few sports can match." When I am done, I am usually greeted with a blank stare and a courtesy nod. And I might as well have been trying to explain Albert Einstein's theory of relativity...in Gaelic. I just can't get the job done.

So, I will borrow another line from "The Baz" himself. "(There is) ...a mystical dimension (in) racing. God created the land. He created the terrain and the music of His creation was in it. On a motocross bike, you are the stylus, the needle carving the LP. You are playing the music."

If you remember what an LP is, then you also remember open-faced helmets and cross-peak visors. You know that a Yamaha was silver with a red stripe on the gas tank, Husky used rubber bands to hold their tanks in place and that CZ's coffin-style tanks were the coolest of them all. And you also know that Marty Tripes made racing motocross look easier than coasting down a hill on your stingray bicycle.

In this video, Billy Grossi, Kent Howerton, Gary Jones, Marty Smith, Warren Reid, the late Jim Pomeroy and others are back on the racetrack, both in their respective heydays and in the current day. There is a special thrill watching rare footage of Billy at speed on his 1973 works Kawasaki. Seeing Gary Jones on the road to winning Honda's first-ever national championship is a historical moment. And you can feel the frustration as Marty Smith, sidelined with his broken Honda, can only watch as a speedy newcomer named Bob Hannah races past on the way to his first title.

If you remember motocross, as Motocross Action sez "before it was taken over by excess, corporate greed and overblown egos" then you will remember the men whose stories are told in this show. BackTrack is for you. And I really don't need to say anything more. Still here? Congratulations! You "get it", too!

Taylor and Baz
Taylor and Baz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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