RedBud celebrating 40 years of racing

Gene Ritchie was an avid motocross rider growing in Valparaiso in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In fact, Gene would race just about anything.

In 1972, Ritchie went to Southwest Michigan for a snowmobile race.

"This place was surrounded by orchards and really pretty and he loved the hills," Gene's daughter Amy explains. "He sorta dreamed up a race track that day."

A year later, the properly went up for sale and Gene bought the land in Buchanan. RedBud was born.

"It was his creativity, his vision but I don't think he ever quite envisioned all of this," Amy says.

This---is where 25,000-30,000 fans will arrive on Saturday for the 40th RedBud National.

"This track here in southern Michigan is probably the premiere track in motocross in the whole world," Michigan native and pro rider Nick Wey says.

It's the event all the pros look forward to.

"This place is like no other," motocross legend Ricky Carmichael, who retired in 2007 as the greatest of all-time, explains. "RedBud is one of a kind. On Saturday when we see these guys race to see these fans, how loud they are--the vibe of the place. It's so cool to be a part of, When these people are cheering for you--its awesome."

Australian Chad Reed knows that feeling. He won RedBud in 2011.

"When you think about RedBud, you think about how amazing the race track is, the facility," Reed says. "How crazy the fans are and how great they are. It just has an atmosphere that you rarely, rarely get."

Gene called it RedBud because of the trees in Buchanan. Little did he know--the name would take on a life of its own.

"Every lap we go around, they're yelling 'redddd budddd' and they just love it," says pro Mike Alessi, who is currently 6th in the AMA points standings.

Amy says she doesn't remember what other names her dad may have considered for the track when he named it 40 years ago.

"I can't hear them chanting anything else," Amy says with a smirk. "I go to a lot of other nationals and I don't hear them chanting the name like 'reddddd budddddd.' It's a unique thing. It worked out."

Amy and her brother Tim now run RedBud. Tim is responsible for building LaRocco's Leap, the jump that made RedBud famous.

It's been a year of celebration for the Ritchies. In the spring, Gene and his wife Nancy had their 50th anniversary. And now its year 40 for RedBud.

"You think of all the people that have raced here or worked here and retired," Amy says as three girls yell out RedBud. "And jeez we're still here and its still cool. Its kind of nostalgic."

The pro races are all day Saturday in Buchanan. The cost is $40 for adults and $20 for kids, ages 6-11.

The finals will be shown live on WNDU Saturday at 3pm.


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