Ralph’s Rock pays tribute to late owner as Washougal MX National roars back into town

Best motocross riders in the world ready to compete in Clark County after last year’s event was called off during the pandemic

WASHOUGAL — The largest sporting event in Clark County returns on Saturday, and racing fans will get the opportunity to pay tribute to the late owner of the Washougal MX Park.

Ralph’s Rock is positioned a stone’s throw from the tower, right in the heart of where thousands of people will be hanging out Saturday for the Washougal MX National.

Just a few of the many members of the family business at the Washougal MX Park show off Ralph’s Rock earlier this week. Ralph Huffman, co-owner of the park with his wife Carolyn, died this past spring. Saturday is the first Washougal MX National since his death. Ralph Huffman was instrumental in saving the National at Washougal decades ago. Photo by Paul Valencia
Just a few of the many members of the family business at the Washougal MX Park show off Ralph’s Rock earlier this week. Ralph Huffman, co-owner of the park with his wife Carolyn, died this past spring. Saturday is the first Washougal MX National since his death. Ralph Huffman was instrumental in saving the National at Washougal decades ago. Photo by Paul Valencia

“He was a great father, a great husband, a great person,” Carolyn Huffman said of her husband Ralph, who died in March. “He was just really great with people. I miss him tremendously. It’s hard without him.”

The large Huffman family, and the extended motocross family, though, bring peace to Carolyn as she recalls all the fond memories at the park.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” she said Wednesday as she and the family business prepare to host the 40th Washougal MX National. The best motocross riders in the world are competing in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series. 

It was Ralph Huffman’s vision that saved the National when he took over the lease of the park in the 1980s. The event had been taken away from Washougal for a year but Huffman went to work, made the necessary improvements to the facility, and today the track is described as “America’s most scenic raceway.” 

Ralph and Carolyn would later buy the park. 

Ralph died at the age of 83 in the spring. Today, Ralph’s Rock has a likeness of him on his bulldozer. It is a tribute to all the years associated with the sport and the land.

Two of Ralph Huffman’s favorite things, a bulldozer and the Washougal MX Park, are highlighted at Ralph’s Rock a tribute to his legacy in the Northwest motocross community. Photo by Paul Valencia
Two of Ralph Huffman’s favorite things, a bulldozer and the Washougal MX Park, are highlighted at Ralph’s Rock a tribute to his legacy in the Northwest motocross community. Photo by Paul Valencia

While the National gets most of the attention, the park is a destination spot for amateurs throughout the riding season.

“It’s built from my dad and my dad’s work over time,” said Ryan Huffman, who manages the track. “I just hope everybody is as grateful as I am, and my family is, to have something this impressive. For my dad, it was never about the dollar. He could have sold it for a golf course or lots of homes at any given time. We keep it open for the riders and their families.”

The memorial for Ralph Huffman also includes pictures and words of memories from the motocross community. Photo by Paul Valencia
The memorial for Ralph Huffman also includes pictures and words of memories from the motocross community. Photo by Paul Valencia

Beyond the course, there are also upwards of 1,200 camping sites. This week, close to 800 amateur riders will take to the course Thursday and Friday, many who will be camping onsite. 

Curtis Paulson, who is the track announcer for the amatuer riders, said this week is special for all involved in the sport. The course itself is built up to give the professionals a challenge, which makes the degree of difficulty even more intense for the amateurs this week. That’s the draw, Paulson said, to be able to ride the same course, with the same set-up as the pros.

With no Supercross in Seattle anymore, the Motocross stop in Washougal is the only chance Northwest fans get to see the professionals every year. Last year’s event in Washougal was called off during the pandemic.

“People are chomping at the bit to get out and do stuff,” Paulson said.

Ryan Huffman agreed. 

“Our demographic, the motocross people, they’ve been ready for this,” he said. “Our people are ready to be here. The sales prove it so far.”

Ryan Huffman said he expects Saturday’s event to be as big, or bigger, than ever. The official website of the motocross tour says that tickets will be limited. Fans should buy tickets online at: https://washougalmx.ticketspice.com/washougal2021

When all those fans show up Saturday, the Huffman family hopes many will get the opportunity to see Ralph’s Rock, take a picture with it. It is a way to honor the man who saved the Washougal MX National all those years ago.

For the professional riders who make the podium, they will take home trophies that will feature Ralph Huffman, as well.

It’s a celebration of the return of the Washougal MX National this week.

And a celebration of Ralph Huffman.

Notes: Dylan Ferrandis of France leads the 450-class in the season points race. Ken Roczen of Germany is in second place. Justin Barcia of Monroe, N.Y. is in third. Justin Cooper of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. leads the 250-class going into Saturday’s racing. … The Motosport.com Washougal MX National is the seventh stop in the 12-round series this year. … Barcia won the 450-class last week in Minnesota, finishing first and second in the two motos. … Jeremy Martin of Millville, Minn., went 1-1 to claim last week’s 250 title. … Eli Tomac of Cortez, Colo., won the 2019 Washougal MX in the 450 class. Ferandis, then a 250-rider, won the 2019 race in Washougal. … Fans are reminded to get to the park early. Practice and qualifying starts at 8 a.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 12:30 p.m. with the first moto going at 1 p.m. But it can take long time to get into the park as thousands of fans are expected to travel to the park on Washougal River Road.

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