My first time at Unadilla Valley Sports Center, part one

Patrick Newell

Sunday was my official indoctrination into motocross racing at its highest level. Since 1996, my first summer working at The Evening Sun, I had another work commitment or was taking vacation time the weekend AMA made its stop at Unadilla Valley Sports Center. The slate was clean in 2008, so I made arrangements for press credentials with AMA’s media contact representative, Brandon Short. About the only thing left to do was study up. Other than the premier name in the sport – James Stewart – along with retired greats Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, and Bob “Hurricane” Hannah, the depth of my motocross knowledge and top riders was shallow.
Earlier this month, Short began to send out media materials and press releases. I noticed the sponsor that presents this year’s races was not the same as the previous 12 years. Toyota is the lead sponsor this year, however, Toyota is just one of a few major names over my tenure that have taken that lofty mantle. Lead sponsors come and go, but what has stayed the same at Unadilla Valley Sports Center is the phenomenal fan turnout for what is likely the largest sporting event within a 20- to 25-mile radius of Norwich. Anywhere from 10 to 15 thousand fans for Sunday’s main events is not uncommon.
In my decade-plus covering sports in Chenango County, typically, I had no problem finding someone interested in covering the event – especially photographically – while AMA usually released an excellent wrapup of the 125cc and 250cc motos.
The time to forego such a large-scale event was over, my calendar was clear – and my photographer, Frank Speziale, graciously offered to drive.
Part two of Patrick Newell’s Unadilla Valley Sport Center blog will appear Wednesday night, July 23 on