Local 70’s Motocross Racers Enjoy Reunion
Article by W. Clay Crook-
Sometimes a journalist is just lucky, and a story just falls into his lap. That’s the way this story started with a call from Bryon Cannon. The Lexington Progress published a December 30, 2020 feature on Lexington native motocross racer, Gene McCay. But there were others here in the motocross scene, and reading the article piqued their interest to share old times. Some of the local 1970’s era motocross set decided to get together for a reunion at Big Cat’s on Saturday, February 20, 2021, and you’ll recognize the names of all of them. Special thanks to Bryon for passing the story along, and especially to Renee Fesmire, who gathered the information. Motocross racers Greg Wood, Harvey Moody, Jeff Johnson, Myrell Gilliam and Eddie McDaniel were not able to attend the event but were certainly remembered among the group.
Motocross racers attending this first reunion were Gene McCay, Bryon Cannon, Allen Beecham, Johnny Williams, Kenny Myracle, Putt Tolley and Nancy Tolley. Albert Fesmire, Ron Prince and Mike Woods didn’t race motocross, but raced hare scrambles in the 1980’s. Bryon said that hare scrambles are where you race in the woods. Also, there to share the good times and remembrances were Kami Cannon, Cindy Williams, Albert Fesmire, and Renee Fesmire.
Each racer was interviewed and asked the following questions: 1. When and where did you start motocross racing? 2. What was your favorite racing motorcycle? 3. What was your biggest racing accomplishment-when and where? 4. Where was your first win? 5. What was your favorite motocross racetrack? 6. When did you start / stop motocross racing? 7. What was your worst injury?
Gene started motocross racing in 1969 in an open field in Jackson, Tennessee which wasn’t really a track, nor did it have a name. His favorite racing motorcycle was a 1989 CC Yamaha 105 class, but Gene said that “It ran like a 125!” His greatest racing accomplishments were the winning of two National Championships, one in 1973, one in 1974, and a World Championship, where he beat Jeff Ward, “the best motocross racer of all time.” Gene’s first win was his second race in Jackson, after Bob Beasley had won the first race. His favorite racetrack was in Rio Bravo, Texas.
Gene began motocross racing when he was 9 years old and continued until he was 19 years old. His worst injury occurred in 1979 near Milan in Atwood, Tennessee. He wrecked and had a severe concussion that resulted in him being hospitalized in Huntingdon. He was unconscious for two days, and when he awakened, he had no idea where he was or what happened to him.
Gene received some great compliments from the other racers attending the event. Allen Beecham said that Gene “had unbelievable balance, you could see him riding a unicycle at Wood’s Grocery. He also had the best balance of any rider that I’ve ever seen.”
Kenny Myracle said that, “There are 3 things it takes to exceed in motocross; incredible balance, no fear, and the will to win…Gene McCay had all of these.”
Bryon started motocross racing in 1973 at the I-40 & 22 Raceway. His favorite racing motorcycle was a 1977 Bulltaco 370 Pursang. His greatest accomplishment was becoming a three-time Tennessee State Champion in the 125, 250, and Open classes.
Bryon’s first win was at Rose Creek in Selmer in 1973 and his favorite track was at Lakeland.
Bryon began motocross racing when he was 13 years old and stopped when he was 17 years old, and his worst injury was a dislocated shoulder.
Putt started motocross racing in the mid-1960’s at a racetrack in Jackson, Tennessee, and his favorite motorcycle was a 1972 Penton 125. His biggest accomplishment in racing was “winning a bunch of trophies as a pioneer of racing,” he said, but his first win was at the Dennis Woods racetrack.
Putt’s favorite racetrack was Bud Johnson’s track, called Johnson Motocross and his last race was at Atwood. Putt began racing when he was 28 years old and stopped when he was 35 years old. He recollected that his worst injury was a broken toe on his left foot. And, as you might have guessed if you know the Tolley’s, Putt raced with…
For the complete article, see the March 3rd edition of The Lexington Progress.