In 1967, a group of local motorcycle enthusiasts met at Marion Pyle's bike shop - The Orangevale Motorcycle Center, in Orangevale, CA. Their thoughts were to bring a big-time motorcycle racing event to Northern California. That meeting set the stage for the creation of the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club. These guys, 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 are the reason the Hangtown Motocross Classic is around today.
The Dirt Diggers North wouldn't be content to just ride together. From the beginning, they wanted to stage their own race - a big one. After two small local events, a scramble in Lincoln, and a motocross event in Helvetia Park in West Sacramento, they set their sites on Hangtown.
The first Dirt Diggers North MC race was held at Murray's Ranch outside of Placerville, CA in 1969. The race took it's name from Placerville, which was known as "Hangtown" in the gold rush days. Dave Duarte relates, "you had to drive down Diamond Bar Road, and I remember how we had to drag out just about every single afterwards because of the mud."
But despite the poor weather and a mediocre turnout of about 150 sportsmen riders and 30 pros, the event with the $600 purse set the stage for Hangtown's future. The day ended with Larry Mulock, Gary Bailey, and Dick Mann sharing the winner's podium.
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 Plymouth's Hangtown sand pit are now long gone, as are the hangovers and all night parties. Also gone are Brad Lackey hopping on the bulldozer to help build the track, the Saturday night's mechanics races with 250cc Bultaco motors stuffed into minibike frames, etc.
All this changed when the race outgrew the sleepy hillsides of Plymouth with the two-lane roads, and old-fashioned thinking of some local residents who didn't like the changes brought by the races with its 30,000 spectators. Therefore, in 1979, the Club and the Sacramento County Department of Parks and Recreation put together a permanent facility at Prarie City OHV Park. Eventually the State OHV Department took control of the park, and in conjunction with DDNMC has provided permanent sprinklers, fencing, rest rooms, running water, gazebos, announcing tower, and other facilities.
Today, the Hangtown Motocross Classic is big business. Currently, 34 members and one probate meet three to four times a month to prepare for the next year's race. Even though the Club is a 100% volunteer club, the members commit to literally 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 a national caliber one. The Club takes "possession" of the track in early May and assembles hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to transform the track