Hurricane HUGO strikes Binghamton
Hurricane HUGO strikes Binghamton
Sweeney- “I was listening to Steve’s podcast with Pete Fox the other day and it got me thinking about the great Fox gear that Damon wore back in the day and I remembered the shot I had of him from the Binghamton – Broome Tioga MX National rocking the blue zebra pants and matching shirt..
It also got me thinking about the days leading up to that race and some of the things I used to wonder about and have only just recently found answers to, mostly thanks to the wonderful world of social media. Let’s back it up a bit.
1989 was a big year for motocross, an unbelievable crop of rookies and first year guys were coming up, Emig, Stephenson, LaRocco, Kiedrowski, Chicken, Dowd and easily the most hyped of all, Bradshaw. There were also established veterans in the class who wouldn’t give an inch, Guy Cooper, Erik Kehoe, Donnie Schmit and George Holland, just to name a few.
Against this stacked field Damon got on the box with a 2nd at the third outdoor national of his career, which was also the first of the 1989 season, the Gatorback National. He followed that two races later with an overall win at Lake Sugar Tree and spent the rest of the summer battling, charging and hating his way to the podium. If not for a couple of bad overall finishes, namely Southwick and Steel City, he most likely would have won the 125cc National Championship as a rookie.
Back then the 125 class had a really long season, 13 rounds – 26 motos, starting in March and finishing in October. Damon spent the entire summer and early fall in a tightly contested championship battle with Mike Kiedrowski and the Honda team.
Three things approached come early Fall, the culmination of a great battle for the championship, the Broome Tioga National on September 24th, and Hurricane Hugo. Hugo was a Category 4 hurricane that hit Charleston Harbor with 140 M.P.H. winds a mere 3 days before the race was scheduled to start. The storm tore a swath straight up the east coast, knocking down trees, ruining power grids and flooding many areas. We had no idea if the race would go as scheduled or if we’d even be able to get there, but the AMA was able to get word out that the race was on.
What I didn’t find out until many years later, and always wondered about was Damon’s story and especially the story behind the “Hugo pants”
I found out the back story via my Instagram account. Damon’s brother Zack saw a photo I had posted of Damon at this race and commented on it, we got to going back and forth about the race and he told me the story.
Apparently their cars were blocked in by downed trees, their power was out, the airport was closed and they decided to drive up the coast through the mess left by Hugo. So the entire Bradshaw family hopped into a rental car and drove on up. During the ride up the coast Damon’s mom hand stitched the “Hugo” on the back of Damon’s pants, when I found that out I laughed, because I remembered wondering how the heck Fox Racing was able to get his pants done up that quickly!
Race day was gorgeous, the sun came out, it was a beautiful warm sunny day and the track was perfect, a little muddy at practice and qualifying, it dried out throughout the day. As it turns out the long drive up in the rental car must have agreed with Damon as he won the overall. At seasons end Damon finished second overall to Mike Kiedrowski by a scant 3 points, it was a great battle that came right down to the end with Damon doing all he could by winning the last national of the season at Unadilla.
The photo here is of Damon in the “Supercross” section down by the road, jumping the tabletop. That Fox gear looks great even today, Pete really knocked it out of the park with that one.”
Matthes: “This was a magical season for the sport of motocross. 1989 and 1990 were transition years away from the riders that we had seen dominate the 80’s and a whole bunch of fast kids came in, Bradshaw perhaps the fastest one of them all.
And there was no doubt that Bradshaw, as he would do two years later, threw the 1989 125 national title away by making some mistakes and letting his emotions get the better of him. The guys at Yamaha have a ton of stories about Damon throwing away points like they were gift baskets but that was Damon- he didn’t care about much when he was on the track, getting to the front and crushing everyone was the main objective. Each and every time out there. That’s why, still to this day and with only one regional sx title on his resume, the name Bradshaw still gets respect and admiration years later.
Something that was forgotten about the ’89 125 title chase was the old man of the class (and defending champion) George Holland was looking good to repeat on his Cliff White-tuned CR125 when he hurt his shoulder again and pulled out of the series. That was it, he never raced again, retiring soon after. Holland had won a couple of races mid-season and starting to heat up before he got hurt. Who knows, maybe Holland would’ve been able to hold off the kids if not for the injury?
Anyways, here are the results from Binghamton in 1989 with Damon “HUGO” Bradshaw kicking ass.
1-Damon Bradshaw 2-1