Buchanan, Michigan’s RedBud is the centerpiece of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Located just above the Michigan-Indiana state line, RedBud is among the most highly regarded motocross tracks in the world, and July Fourth weekend there is one of the region’s biggest events in general. Located in the beautiful rolling hills of southwestern Michigan – a state with an affinity for off-road recreational vehicle use – RedBud has bragging rights to claim the largest attendance of any U.S. motocross race, year after year. With just the right soil mix, plenty of room for passing, and the biggest jump on the circuit - the infamous LaRocco’s Leap, named after local legend Mike LaRocco - RedBud is the top motocross destination in a region that loves its motorsports. And the loyal Michigan fans’ chants of “Red Buuuuud!!!” are well-known throughout the motocross world.
One winter nearly forty years ago, Valparaiso, Indiana’s Gene Ritchie took a trip to Buchanan for a snowmobile race. He rode around the property, imagining that a great motocross track could be carved into the hills and fields. When that property came up for sale in 1972, Ritchie pursued his dream of creating a national-caliber motocross track. He and his wife, Nancy, found some willing partners and purchased the property. The Ritchies, the Pattersons, and the Millers built their dream track and began holding races in 1973.
RedBud held its first AMA Motocross National in 1974, and it was won by another local motocross star, Hadley, Michigan’s Mike Hartwig. The facility also hosted Trans-AMA races each fall, often featuring battles between the world’s best rider at the time, Belgian Roger DeCoster, and America’s best, Bob “Hurricane” Hannah.
Within a few years, the original partners moved on and the Ritchie family relocated to Michigan to become full-time motocross promoters. Gene opened a bike shop, Red Bud Cycle, selling Bultacos and Maicos near the track entrance. The shop mechanic, a teenage MX racer from Niles, MI, became the centerpiece of the Friday night MX intermission shows; that teen was the late “Wheelie King”, Doug Domokos, who went on to set world records and wow fans around the globe with his wheelie shows and spectacular stunts.
Other stars emerged from the RedBud amateur races, too, most notably the Bomber, Mark Barnett from nearby Bridgeview, Illinois, Michigan’s five-time Women’s National Champ Lisa (Akin) Wagner (now on staff at RedBud!), six-time AMA MX and SX Champ Jeff Stanton and of course, “the Rock”, Mike LaRocco.
Since 2005, RedBud has played host to the second round of the Monster Energy Triple Crown of Motocross, a series-within-the-series where a rider can earn a $50,000 bonus if he sweeps all three rounds. Over the years, only Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart have managed to pull it off.
Feature Venue Events:
- Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship
- Loretta Lynn's AMA Amateur National Regional and Qualifiers
- ITP/Moose Racing AMA ATV Pro Motocross Championship
- Great Lakes Motocross Amateur Series events
- The Annual Fall Classic
- The Annual season finale Grass Race