In January this year the 59th Woodville Motocross – New Zealand's biggest - organised by the Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club with its team of 40 volunteers once again turned on a superb event, transforming low lying farmland into a unique course and providing awesome facilities and organisation.
The organisers for the club's 60th Grand Prix in 2021 are planning an even bigger event with an effort to acknowledge the history of it.
This started when local icon Tim Gibbs, after having toured Europe, came back determined to create a similar motocross event in Woodville. This he did, after extensive modification of the terrain by the Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club.
These days the event attracts over 500 senior, intermediate and junior riders, some from overseas including Australia's best, a huge crowd travelling from all over New Zealand and sponsors like chief sponsor New Wing Honda.
The event has become the most popular motocross racing in New Zealand, loved by the riders who find it a very challenging course which crosses a variety of terrain providing different challenges from the bowl to the wetter flats over four different soil types which react differently to water.
"It's a great grounding experience for riders – it looks simple but it's not," says track manager Pete Woodward.
Owner of the property, Tony Kuriger, is delighted to have the event on his land.
"It came with the property, it's great for Woodville and local riders and the Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club could not have been more co-operative, even turning out to help me fence and plant shade trees when I moved here 10 years ago," he said.
Preparation of the track starts six weeks before the event with club members coming in to reclaim it from pasture. It involves a dozen members initially with numbers swelling to 40 in the final week. They also set up a course for the youngsters to compete on the Saturday.
This year the main track will have slight modifications but nothing major according to Pete Woodward, the club having done some work straight after this January's event.
Promotion to gain more riders, especially in the junior ranks, is a major focus for this year. There are two new classes being introduced on the mini track, all in Girls 8-11 years and Mini Support class.
The support class is a great way for local riders to participate at Woodville GP 2021. Bissett Honda will be having Mini Ride nights starting in the next few months which are great way to build up confidence for those riders wanting to enter Woodville Support Class. Keep a eye on the Woodville MXGP or Bisset Honda Facebook page.
As to the event, a touch of nostalgia will be added with the pipe band performing just as it did in 1961 in the first event and other ceremonial events will take place.
It is still about racing however. Can Hamish Harwood repeat his heroics in winning the MX1 title this year? Will we see a female rider take out the MX2 event as Courtney Duncan did in 2016? Can Cody Cooper retake his crown? Will Paul Whibley return for the Water Race?
President of the Manawatu-Orion Motorcycle Club, Brad Ritchie, reckons the event on January 30-31 will be a great way to start a new year of sport.
Over 500 senior, junior and Mini riders come from all over NZ and overseas to compete on this level playing field. The event attracts spectators from all over the region and further afield. It is a fantastic family day out with plenty of entertainment and action, particularly the Iconic River Race being a real crowd pleaser.