33rd Dubya World Vet Motocross Championship: Redemption, Celebration, Remembrance

Doug Dubach returns to the top at the 33rd Dubya World Vet Motocross Championship as the field remembers the late, great Tom White at Glen Helen Raceway.

The recent passing of Tom White cast quite a shadow over the motocross racing community, especially those who regularly attend the Dubya World Vet Motocross Championship—the now world-famous event White originated and announced. But in the wake of his passing, the 33rd Annual Dubya World Vet Motocross Championship carried on at Glen Helen, where some new blood and familiar faces topped the podium throughout a full weekend of racing.

World Vet Motocross
Doug Dubach injured a shoulder and broke some ribs a few months ago, but he regained his speed, and his title at the 33rd Dubya World Vet Motocross Championship. PHOTO BY JEAN TURNER.

Along with Brett Metcalfe (30+ Pro) and Mike Brown (40+ Pro), a big winner of the World Vet Motcross weekend was Doug Dubach, who celebrated the 50+ Pro victory. It was a significant victory for “Dr. D,” who was elated to regain his Vet World Motocross Championship after losing at the 2017 World Vet Motocross Championship to Kurt Nicoll. Even so, it was a bittersweet victory without his lifelong friend, Tom White, there to congratulate him.

“I’ve become so accustomed to Tom greeting me off the track, win or lose,” said Dubach. “It’s tough. It’s really tough. I’ve had some wins and I’ve had some not-wins but that guy… he has helped me so much throughout my whole life.”

World Vet Motocross
The Kurt Nicoll (2)/Doug Dubach (15) rivalry rolled on at the 33rd World Vet MX Championships, but the World Vet crown went to Dubach this year. PHOTO BY JEAN TURNER.

Even in remembering the fallen originator of the Vet World Motocross Championship, there were plenty of smiles all around, and celebrating on the podium. Dubach was as relieved as he was thrilled by his victory over Kurt Nicoll. The duo once again did battle throughout the weekend in both the 40+ and 50+ Pro divisions. But this time, Dubach got the upper hand each time they faced off. It resulted in a 50+ Pro title for Dubach, and a second-place finish in the 40+ Pro class.

“To go 1-1 today, it feels outstanding,” said Dubach. After sitting out the 2016 event, Dubach knew he had his work cut out for him to regain his champion status. “I walked in here Saturday morning like, ‘Can I do this again?’ The fact that I managed to do this time and time again with some good competition, it’s so rewarding! It’s just unbelievable.”

Solid preparation, despite having broken some ribs and injuring his shoulder a few months ago, paved the way for Dubach’s World Vet Motocross success. And although Nicoll was also well-prepared, he admits he simply wasn’t the faster man at Glen Helen.

World Vet Motocross
Kurt Nicoll put in two solid races aboard his Champion MX-backed KTM, but had to settle for second in the 50+ Pro class. PHOTO BY JEAN TURNER.

“As usual, I was locked together with Doug Dubach all weekend,” said Nicoll. “I didn’t really have anything for him this weekend, which is a shame. I don’t really like that, but he rode really well. I felt like I rode pretty good today. Two seconds in 50 Pro behind Doug. I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong; I just never got in front of him.”

The Nicoll/Dubach rivalry in the past few years has effectively elevated the status of the 50+ division, which is now a Pro event along with the 30+ and 40+ classes. It is also continuing to draw more talent, including Ron Lechien, who became a quinquagenarian last December.

“Lechien was out there, John Grewe was out there, many time Loretta champ,” said Dubach. “It’s a bunch of 50-year-olds, but it’s not a bunch of 50-year-olds. I’d invite half of those 30-year-olds to roll up to the gate with us and see how they fare.”

World Vet Motocross
Mike Brown came to the World Vet MX Championship and left with the 40+ Pro title. PHOTO BY JEAN TURNER.

On Saturday, the 40+ Pro class was dominated by Mike Brown who piloted his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna to a 1-1 sweep. Brownie made it look a little too easy, even after getting a flat tire early in the second moto.

“On the second lap I had a flat front tire,” Brown explained. “It was scary because I thought ‘it’s going to come off the rim, or he’s going to catch me.’ I just kept riding through the sand berms and kinda steer it that way. But it was a good day.”

It marked the first time Brown had attempted the World Vet Motocross Championship. At the urging of his FXR gear sponsor, the 45-year-old decided to throw his hat in the ring. He not only came away with the 40+ championship, but also podiumed in the 30+ Pro class, finishing second behind Metcalfe.

Brett Metcalfe was also new to World Vet MX, making his first-ever attempt at the event a successful one. “Metty” went 1-1 in the 30+ Pro division, beating Brown both times out. With only three days aboard his new Moto Concepts Honda ride, Metcalfe ran away with the lead. It was trial by fire—or in this case mud—when the skies unexpectedly opened up on Sunday morning. Thickening mud and poor visibility made the first motos of the 30+ Pro and 50+ Pro classes pretty difficult.

World Vet Motocross
It seems that Brett Metcalfe is quite comfortable on his Moto Concepts Honda, as evidenced by his 30+ Pro win. What’s next for Metcalfe and his new ride? “Not sure yet. We’re still working that out,” he replied. PHOTO BY JEAN TURNER.

“It was pretty tough,” Metcalfe said. “The first moto it was really raining heavy for us. I think everybody had to throw their goggles off. I took a pretty good shot, a rock in the eye. I’m still glad I got the holeshot and able to get the lead and hold on for the win.

“The second moto I didn’t get the holeshot. Brownie got the jump and took it. It was good riding with him; I got a lot of respect for Mike Brown. He’s awesome. I wanted to get by him quick and put some good laps. I just had a good time riding with him.

“I gotta thank Tony Alessi and his crew, the Moto Concepts team, for helping me out. X-Trig, and Honda for giving me a bike to ride. I got a lot of people trying to help me out.”
Third in the 30+ Pro went to another new face, Jason Potter, a “freshman” of the Vet ranks at 30 years old. Potter bested Dutch rider Tonni Andersen and KTM’s Mike Sleeter for the final podium spot, commenting, “These guys are still gnarly for how old they are.”

Other notable winners over the weekend were Pete DeGraaf, who topped the 60+ Expert field on Sunday ahead of Chuck Sun. Jim O’Neal bested the 70+ class on Saturday, but had to settle for second on Sunday behind Steve Machado. The 25+ Expert class saw Sean Lipanovich head the field on Saturday while Jeff Loop took a 1-1 victory on Sunday. In Sunday’s Women’s Expert class, Holly Breck bested Michelle Horton with a 2-1 finish.

33rd Dubya World Vet Motocross Championship
Glen Helen Raceway
San Barnardino, California
Results: November 1-5, 2017

30+ Pro Overall
1. Brett Metcalfe (Hon) 1-1
2. Mike Brown (Hus) 2-2
3. Jason Potter (Hon) 5-3
4. Tonni Andersen (KTM) 3-5
5. Mike Sleeter (KTM) 6-4

40+ Pro Overall
1. Mike Brown (Hus) 1-1
2. Doug Dubach (Yam) 2-2
3. Kenjiro Tsuji (Yam) 4-3
4. Kurt Nicoll (KTM) 3-4
5. John Grewe (Kaw) 5-5

50+ Pro Overall
1. Doug Dubach (Yam) 1-1
2. Kurt Nicoll (KTM) 2-2
3. Keith Bowen (Hon) 3-4
4. John Grewe (Kaw) 5-3
5. Ron Lechien (Kaw) 4-5

For full results, visit: http://www.glenhelen.com/results/

Legendary motorcyclist Malcolm Smith was honored with the Tom White Lifetime Achievement Award (formerly known as the Edison Dye Lifetime Achievement Award) at the 2017 World Vet Motocross Championship. Malcolm’s copious accomplishments were honored in a ceremony on Sunday, featuring the video below. Smith was in attendance and happy to accept his award, even if his longtime friend Tom White wasn’t there to hand it to him.

Malcolm Smith Edison Dye Award from Larry Saavedra on Vimeo.

Smith hung out to watch some racing and sign autographs along with other notable champions such as David Bailey, Ron Lechien and Lars Larsson.