Jett Lawrence wins 450 class, Hunter Lawrence 250 class in national event that benefits Folsom charity, community

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As thousands of fans packed the bleachers and lined the hills of Prairie City State Vehicle Recreation Area Saturday afternoon, the annual Hangtown Motocross Classic didn’t disappoint for its 54th annual run as the sun set with two brothers being crowned Hangtown Champions. 

Australia’s Jett Lawrence hoisted the championship trophy in the 450 class while his brother Hunter did the same in the 250 class. The Hangtown Classic is one of the most coveted championship trophies to a rider on the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship tour each year.  

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While the temperatures weren’t as hot as they traditionally are at the Hangtown Classic, which can usually be described by riders and fans alike as, “sweltering,” Saturday marked the warmest competition day of the 2023 season. Fans enjoyed temperatures in the high 80’s as they watched Jett Lawerence use his technique of “going as fast as he can,” to work his way to the overall all event championship.

“In the beginning I try to go as fast as I can and just try to get away a little it,” said Lawrence “Once I get that five or six-second gap I just kind of watch everyone’s pace.”

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VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 250 CLASS OF THE 54TH HANGTOWN MOTOCROSS CLASSIC. VIDEO: PRO MOTOCROSS

The first 450 moto saw Dylan Ferrandis reach the official holeshot line first, but he was passed by Jett Lawrence before reaching the second turn. Cooper Webb,  Adam Cianciarulo and Aaron Plessinger followed, but the only rider who was moving forward was Plessinger. He passed his teammate and then looked like he might take the fight to Ferrandis, but never really took a shot. There was virtually no passing within the top 10 for the rest of the race. Lawrence established a 6-second lead over Ferrandis and managed it all the way to the flag.

Ferrandis and Jett Lawrence argued over the lead in the first turn, with Lawrence coming out on top. In the confusion, both Cooper Webb and Aaron Plessinger passed Ferrandis and that set the order for the first half of the race.  Lawrences established a small margin over the three-way battle for second. Eventually Plessinger passed Webb and actually got away, leaving Webb to handle Ferrandis alone. Late in the race, Plessinger fell and broke his clutch lever. He remounted in fifth, right behind Adam Cianciarulo. In the end, he struggled with the clutch and lost another place to Jose Butron. Jett won with a 5-second lead and Webb held off Ferrandis for second. Ferrandis still secured the runner-up spot in the overall standings.

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“I took a few lines and lost some time, but one of the big things was the lappers,” said Lawrence. “They wave the blue flags at them but they kept on racing each other. To lose time like that sucks, but we have to deal with it. I got screwed by them, but then the guys behind me got screwed too.”

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 250 CLASS OF THE 54TH HANGTOWN MOTOCROSS CLASSIC. VIDEO: PRO MOTOCROSS

In the 250 class Saturday, Haiden Deegan took the lead and was joined by his teammate Justin Cooper to dominate the first moto. Deegan and Cooper rode to a strong lead early in the moto while Guillem Farres raced in third. Late in the run, another Lawrence brother was charging his way to the front when Hunter Lawrence muscled into the third position. 

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In the second moto of the day, Cooper shot into the lead at the start while his teammate Deegan had his work cut out for him rounding out the top ten runners at the start of the moto. Early in the run the elder Lawrence was already putting the pressure on Cooper for the lead and the pressure paid off on lap three when he took the top spot from Cooper and never relinquished it.

“The start was crucial,” said Lawrence “I knew they laid a lot of water down. I didn’t want to be behind no one for much longer than that. It was tough. The first hot one of the year. They’re always a bit of a wakeup call but I’m happy to get out of here safe and healthy.”

Cooper held on to the second spot in the moto. The talk of the run was that of Deegan, who charged his way up to the final podium spot with a fourth place finish in the moto over Tom Vialle. 

“It’s unfortunate I didn’t get a great start in my second (moto) and had to work through the pack,” said Deegan. “I charged hard and rode my heart off. It’s still crazy to think. I was on a Super-Mini a year and a half ago.It’s just crazy still getting on the podium and I’m hyped.”

Before Saturday’s pro competition even got started there was plenty of news and drama coming about. Defending 450 class series champion Chase Sexton made a late announcement that he would have to sit out of the Hangtown Classic after being diagnosed with a concussion following practice crash on Tuesday. 

The annual Hangtown Motocross is considered the largest outdoor spectator sports event in the Folsom region, attracting the top motocross racers from around the world to town. This event brings national and international attention to Folsom, which continues to be the “host city” for the event which is the longest running outdoor motocross event in the United States. 

Over 20,000 spectators trek to the  event each year, regardless if its raining or triple digit weather. The event is managed by the Dirt Diggers North Motorcycle Club and has organized the competition at Prairie City since 1979.  The club has close ties to Folsom in many ways, they even meet regular in Historic Folsom at the Eagles Lodge to plan and organize the event throughout the year. The race was originally held near Placerville, then in the small town of Plymouth, which it outgrew very quickly. 

The club spends more than $200,000 annually to stage the competition. The club secures sponsorships for the event each year, a necessary component to keep the affair running, considering that insurance alone is now in the neighborhood of $20,000.

One aspect that many may not be aware of is that the Hangtown Motocross event benefits local charities each here. Throughout the years, the club has assisted various charities, including the locally known Friends of Folsom which provides a great deal of volunteer support for the event, including setting up the course in the weeks ahead of it, managing parking on race day and helping with hospitality and vendor needs throughout the course of the event. 

In short, if you go to the Hangtown Classic and you enjoy a cold beer, that cold beer helps feed a family in need through the Friends of Folsom annual turkey drive where they provide holiday meals to over 10,000 families in need. The funds don’t come to the charity without a lot of elbow grease, however. 

On Sunday, while the riders departed to their next city and the thousands of fans were sleeping in, it was the volunteers at the park begging several days of tearing down everything they set up and packing it all away for next year. 

“We’ve been running this race since 1969 and for some reason everyone is still willing to volunteer to get this big job done each year,” said Bob Messer, event director for Dirt Diggers North. “We’re so glad to keep going. We almost go though forced agony to get this thing done, everyone can get a bit tired and grouchy and then about two weeks afterward we all are ready to get planning the next year” 

After the bills are paid and the donations are made to charity, Dirt Digger North then takes the remaining profits from and puts them back into enhancing the facility for future events in a self-sustaining business model where a community wins just the guys on the podium each year. 

2023 Hangtown Motorcross Classic Championship Results 

54th HANGTOWN MOTOCROSS CLASSIC 450 OVERALL FINAL RESULTS, SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2023

1 Jett Lawrence 1 / 1
2 Dylan Ferrandis 2 / 3
3 Cooper Webb 4 / 2
4 Aaron Plessinger 3 / 6
5 Adam Cianciarulo 5 / 4
6 Ty Masterpool 7 / 7
7 Derek Drake 8 / 8
8 Jerry Robin 1 0/ 9
9 Lorenzo Locurcio 9 / 11
10 Jose Butron 16 / 5
11 Fredrik Noren 6 / 15
12 Ryan Surratt 11 / 12
13 Romain Pape 14 / 10
14 Kyle Chisholm 12 / 13
15 Christopher Prebula 13 / 36
16 Brandon Ray 21 / 14
17 Marshal Weltin 15 / 37
18 Jace Kessler 25 / 16
19 Jacob Runkles 29 / 17
20 Chandler Baker 17 / 33
21 Cody Groves 36 / 18
22 Tyler Stepek 18 / 31
23 Scott Meshey 40 / 19
24 Grant Harlan 19 / 38
25 Jeffrey Walker 24 / 20
26 Bryton Carroll 20 / 39
27 Alex Ray 23 / 21
28 RJ Wageman 22 / 25
29 Luca Marsalisi 27 / 24
30 Ezra Lewis 30 / 22
31 Max Miller 26 / 28
32 Josh Mosiman 32 / 23
33 Maxwell Sanford 31 / 27
34 Matthew Burkeen 34 / 26
35 Kaeden Amerine 28 / 34
36 Ashton Oudman 37 / 29
37 Ty Freehill 38 / 30
38 Cory Carsten 33 / 35
39 Tyler Ducray 39 / 32
40 Colby Copp 35 / 40

54th HANGTOWN MOTOCROSS CLASSIC 250 OVERALL FINAL RESULTS, SATURDAY, JUNE 3, 2023

1 Hunter Lawrence 3 / 1
2 Justin Cooper 2 / 2
3 Haiden Deegan 1 / 4
4 Tom Vialle 7 / 3
5 RJ Hampshire 5 / 5
6 Jo Shimoda 4 / 10
7 Guillem Farres 6 / 8
8 Levi Kitchen 10/ 7
9 Jalek Swoll 9 / 11
10 Ryder DiFrancesco 8 / 13
11 Maximus Vohland 11 / 12
12 Chance Hymas 18 / 6
13 Carson Mumford 15 / 9
14 Jordon Smith 12 / 17
15 Dilan Schwartz 19 / 14
16 Jeremy Martin 13 / 39
17 Michael Mosiman 14 / 40
18 Talon Hawkins 21 / 15
19 Caden Braswell 27 / 16
20 Garrett Marchbanks 16 / 30
21 Joshua Varize 20 / 18
22 Jett Reynolds 17 / 35
23 Derek Kelley 24 / 19
24 Hardy Munoz 23 / 20
25 Slade Smith 26 / 21
26 Austin Black 25 / 24
27 Marcus Phelps 28 / 22
28 Tyson Johnson 29 / 23
29 Kai Aiello 31 / 26
30 Ethan Lane 34 / 25
31 Gavin Brough 33 / 27
32 James Harrington 32 / 28
33 Preston Kilroy 22 / 38
34 Carter Dubach 36 / 29
35 Tre Fierro 35 / 31
36 Chase Yentzer 30 / 36
37 Blaze Cremaldi 37 / 33
38 Jason Fichera 39 / 32
39 Jaret Finch 40 / 34
40 Brantley Schnell 38 / 37

*SPECIAL THANKS TO DIRT DIGGERS NORTH, ALIGN MEDIA, PRO MOTOCROSS AND FRIENDS OF FOLSOM FOR EVENT COVERAGE ASSISTANCE

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan