SMX - THE LEGEND!
Southern Moto Cross club was started because I (Tony Ford) had an argument with a South Eastern Centre ACU club over the way they ran meetings, and treated the riders. The club in question's answer was "If you can do better do it yourself". I then rang the AMCA to ask to join them, and was told as I had an ACU licence I would have to wait until January the following year to join them, my response was you're as stupid as the ACU, not diplomatic but true.
The Club started life in November 1981 and started running events on January 3rd 1982. Our aim was to give the rider a good days sport with the minimum of fuss and treat every standard of rider equally. It seems to have worked as we have a very happy atmosphere at all events.
We instigated many innovations, for instance entry on the day at most events, riders paying a fee so that marshals could be paid expenses & paying a standard amount to pay paramedics fees.
In 1982, total club membership was 156. By 2001 it was nearly 400 and over 500 in 2006
Twenty years ago we had become too successful so that although we were affiliated to the ACU a cartel of clubs got together to try force the centres to restrict our events to two Sundays a month. They wouldn't admit it was because they needed to run better events to compete with SMX. I obviously wasn't happy about that, so I got together with Reg Slack, a good friend who owned Matchams, and we formed ORPA. Reg had good contacts in insurance as well as a good solicitor, who advised on the restrictive practices acts. These were used to force the ACU to change their rules, and recognise ORPA and allow riders and officials the freedom of movement between the organisations, that we take for granted today.
In this first year we used eight different tracks, it was unheard of in those days for clubs to have more than two or three tracks. The second year we took on six more tracks and we have never looked back since. Although we have dropped some and taken on others, we have regularly used around eight or more tracks each year.
Five of these tracks are permanently erected, which makes my life a lot easier. All permanent tracks are graded regularly now, whereas in the early days tracks were only graded once or twice a year. Also in the early days, there were only one or two jumps on tracks, now there are usually at least six, and often ten or more (except for the stubble field events that we run each year).
All the permanent tracks are ditched and piped so keeping them useable during the winter.
Normal events consist of a series of heats with riders then graded into groups on ability, with trophies being awarded down to sixth place in each group.
We also run several ten round championships :
125s, 250s & 500s. These are twenty minute races run before the main programme gets going.
Over 40s/50s/60s/70s. These comprise three races the first a scratch race, a handicap on based on riders age and finally a handicap based on ability. This levels the playing field, encouraging the older rider to carry on competing.
We also have machine age based classes, Pre-85, Pre-95 & Pre-05. In these there is a scratch race, a machine age handicap and an ability handicap. This championship encourages the use of older machines as well.
The ladies are not forgotten nor are the non expert four stroke fanatics all who have similar handicap systems in their championships.
The Main and Support championships, the clubs premier competitions, are for members who qualify for A group, with all A group races throughout the year counting. The top ten in each championship qualify for the next year's Main championship. To win either of these championships requires complete dedication over the 50+ meetings organised each year.
Also, annually we run the British Veterans GP (first Sunday in October) and the ORPA Adult British Clubmans Championship (first weekend in May).
We have run approximately 1400 meetings over the last twenty eight years, give me another twenty and I just might get the hang of it !!!!