Matt Huggett ‘On the Road’ | High Point MX National
By Matt Huggett
Hello, and welcome to the first of my stories from the road. First and foremost, I will take a minute to introduce myself as I am sure many of you have no idea who I am. My name is Matt Huggett, I am from Sarnia, Ontario, and I have a lifelong passion for motocross and photography. That passion is what has led to this article you are reading.
Like most of you, I grew up racing motocross and have a deep-rooted love for the sport. As the realities of my early 20’s took hold, my priorities shifted as I focused on building a career, however, I found time to attend a couple of nationals in Canada and the US annually, and I brought my trusty camera along. I met Billy at Gopher Dunes and stayed in contact with him. This connection led to shooting the High Point National in 2019 for Direct Motocross. COVID hit and before we know it, it’s 2022 and the border is now flowing freely after two difficult years.
With some more vacation time to spare in 2022 and beyond I reached out to Billy to inquire about shooting Nationals within driving distance of Sarnia and was given the green light. High Point, RedBud, and Ironman here we come!
The road trip to High Point is one of my favourites. The drive is a relatively easy 6 hours with Detroit and Pittsburgh being the two major cities on the route.
I arrived at High Point on Friday just before 5pm and made the Will Call cut-off to get my credential. With no fixed agenda I took a stroll to the pro paddock, with a plan to get some photos of the Factory bikes before the crowds of Saturday. Many of the teams were hanging out, however, the bikes had been locked away for the night.
The paddock was very low-key, the Roczens and the Cairolis camping, the Tomacs out for a lengthy track walk, and I witnessed the Jett (Jett Lawrence) take his first L of the outdoor season… a cornhole game with a crew member.
I stopped by the media centre where Tommy “Tenders” Journet and Weege (Jason Weigandt) were working frantically to get ready for the Friday night pre-race show, and Davey Coombs was putting the finishing touches on some Racer X content.
I left the track and headed for my hotel, which was just across the PA/WV border in Morgantown, WV. Morgantown is a classic US college town, the home of West Virginia University. Morgantown also has deep roots in motocross as we know it today. The Coombs family is from Morgantown, so naturally, the headquarters for Racer X, MX Sports, Racer Productions, etc. is in Morgantown. High Point Raceway is, as you can probably guess, also owned and promoted by the Coombs Family.
The Priceline special hotel is not much to speak of; however, the local watering hole is worthy of a mention. Mario’s Fishbowl is infamous among the locals, a tried and true dive serving up ice-cold fishbowls of beer. The Racer X crew has fuelled up there a time or two, as evident by the custom-painted Racer X / Mario’s Fishbowl moto helmet hanging on the wall. The locals were friendly, the beers were cold, and I managed to keep it on four wheels on the way back to the hotel.
Saturday morning is an early wake-up call if you want to capture photos at a national. I arrived at the track at 6:30am, and the pro paddock was already abuzz. After the OHSA meeting was done for the media, it was time to make my way down to the race track to scope out some of the good morning light for the A practices.
The mornings are low key with the B practices providing a time to download photos, and really get dialled in for the day. At the conclusion of practice, MX Sports brings in lunch for the media, and race day staff. This week’s Panera Bread was a hit in the media tent. The motos start at 1pm, and the day gets very busy from that point onward.
For each moto the photographers start with the staging / on-the-line photos, move to a perch to capture the start, and then work the track, with the podium being the final spot before rinsing and repeating for the next 3 motos of the day. TV does not do the hills of High Point justice. That place is gnarly, and you really have to ride it or walk it to appreciate it.
Some observations from High Point:
• The Lawrences are the real deal (Believe the hype)
• Jett has drawn a demographic you would traditionally have found at a Justin Bieber concert to Motocross
• Team Fried is still a major hit among fans
• The Diesel (Ryan Dungey) does not appear to have missed a beat
• Cairoli was much faster than his results showed at High Point
• Every 2nd 250 is a Star Racing bike
Once the motos are over, the real work begins from the media side. 1000’s of photos must be downloaded, reviewed, edited, and sent to the various parties that use them. A lot of work goes into those 10 insta-bangers! I stayed for the press conferences as photos were downloaded, to allow time for the crowds to dissipate. I then traveled back to Morgantown, with a quick stop to fuel up with some Chick-Fil-A. After that, it was back to the hotel room desk. A quick shower and then into the photos from the day. I was nearly done when my computer decided to crash, resulting in the work reviewing and editing being done twice.
Exhausted from the day the plan for a Day Two at Mario’s was scrapped, and yet another early wake-up call awaited me. I was on the road by 6am headed back to Canada. The drive was smooth and with a quick stop near Detroit to pick up my fiancé’s Target order I was back in the homeland shortly after noon.
Overall, a great weekend with some incredible racing (Lawrence brothers moto 2… are you kidding me!?!). Stay tuned for more “On the Road” stories as I head down to South Bend to cover the crown jewel of American Motocross at RedBud.
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