With less than a week to go, WA’s homegrown commentator extraordinaire, Wade Aunger, reminisces about his race days at the famous Manjimup 15000 Motocross as he looks forward to commentating at this weekend’s event.
MEMORIES OF MAKIN' NOISE AT MANJI
The Manjimup 15000 will always have a special place in my heart.
I was an average MX rider at best.
I started very very late - like early 20's - to even consider it, but I did.
Joined Coastal in WA, rode with great friends who shared the same passion.
Went from a 125 to an NCY YZ250 that I bought with pride from the legendary North County Yamaha near San Diego thanks to my lovely friend Donna Robinson.
Later progressed to a KTM EXC250 thanks to Jeff Leisk when I moved to Sydney.
Sold it to help buy a house - duh!
I "rode" in the 15000 in the early 90's very, very, very slowly on my aging KX125 in the C Grade ranks once.
The Wall of Death felt like it was a cliff face in the Grand Canyon.
Every lap I came down the hill I felt like I saw people limping away from smoldering wrecked motorcycles and helicopters circling the forest looking for casualties - they weren't of course!
I remember the freezing cold in the dawn air as we pushed our bikes from the trailers into the pits in the mornings.
I remember the fog.
I remember barely sleeping the night before.
Actually, I don't think I even did.
I remember the unbelievable excitement of sitting at the gates, turning my fuel half off as I warmed the bike but reminding myself over and over and over NOT to take my hand off the tap so that I didn't forget and run out of fuel one lap in.
I remember the good natured ribbing, and joking, and encouragement and piss-taking from my mates and every other C Grade warrior throughout the build up to that gate dropping.
I remember trying to remember every thing that Stephen Gall and Paul Broomfield had tried to teach me at the Academy of Offroad Riding at Coastal that year.
I remember reminding myself to breathe.
And not hang on so hard (damn, why didn't I bring the broom handle like Stephen Gall did to remedy arm pump??).
I remember 'hitting' the table top that first lap after the first corner as a sea of riders disappeared into the distance ahead of me.
I remember how loud my breathing sounded like in my helmet.
I remember coasting (but trying hard to look fast) past the Commentary Box knowing that my commentary legend and mentor and friend Wayne Redmond was doing his best to make me not sound very, very slow.
I remember feeling a wave of elation when I had finished the race in one piece.
And an incredible sense of respect and admiration for people that did that at an elite level.
I remember feeling so in awe of my friend and hero Jeff Leisk.
And admiration for a Manji gasser Jason "Goose" Marshall and many other heroes.
I would remember, years on, feeling so thrilled to work with and become friends with people like Craig Anderson.
I remember marveling at the photo of Jeff Emig, STANDING UP on the pegs but with the left handlebar IN the sand (he was so horizontal to the ground) at the Des Nations for one of the sandy corners.
And then later realizing how ridiculously talented he was to do that.
I remember commentating the Manji 15000 and actually having a deeper appreciation for how high those jumps really are, how steep that wall of death is, how big that crowd is and what an honor it is to go to the starting gate at 'the 15000'.
I remember the huge bonfire.
And people throwing deodorant cans randomly into it.
And now, all those years later, I get to announce it again.
Grateful for the unexpected call up from Wille Thomson to announce this year's event.
And really excited.
I love that my dirt bike life and passion is coming back to me through events like this and also the Hattah Desert Race in July.
Just damn bring it.
Follow Wade Aunger on Facebook