Jamie Dobb to ride 2024 World Vets Motocross

British motocross legend James Dobb is one of only five World motocross champions to come out of Great Britain, and the likeable 2001 World 125cc champion joins the likes of Jeff Smith, Graham Noyce, Neil Hudsen, and Dave Thorpe. With his championship in 2001, the Dobber is the last of this special group of riders.

In 1989, he won his first major adult title, the British 125cc Motocross championship, winning the 250cc category in 1990. In 1992, he was offered the chance to race in America, for the Pro-Circuit Kawasaki team, headed by Mitch Payton. During his five-year stint in America, Dobb would race for Pro-Circuit Kawasaki, Suzuki America and the Honda of Troy team. Whilst not winning any major titles, he was one of the series' top riders, winning an AMA National at Southwick.

Unfortunately, injury affected his 1996 season, and he was left without a ride for 1997. Disenchanted with the sport, he briefly pursued a modelling career in New York, before receiving an offer to return to Europe, competing for the Suzuki UK team. Dobb excelled on his return to Europe, winning the 1998 British 125cc Motocross championship, and a best finish of fifth in the World 125cc Motocross championship in 1999.

His good form saw him move to the factory KTM team in 2000, a move which gave him the momentum to challenge for the 125cc world title. He was second to fellow KTM rider Grant Langston in 2000, before dominating the 2001 championship, securing his, and Great Britain's, first title in the 125cc World Championship. Dobb's title victory was a welcome relief for British motocross in 2001, with much of the domestic season cancelled due to the country's foot and mouth outbreak.

He moved to the premier MX1 class in 2002, but injury, and an uncompetitive KTM 250 machine, meant that he was unable to challenge Stefan Everts for the title. After a lacklustre 2003 season, he returned to MX2, with the RWJ Honda team for 2004. However, unable to mount a serious title challenge, Dobb retired from professional motocross midway through the 2004 season.

Fortunately for British or even other European fans, Dobb will be racing in the 2024 World Vets Motocross, at Farleigh Castle on July 20 and 21. Having retired some 20 years ago, his return to Farleigh will be a huge chance for his fans, those spectators maybe a little older now, but with their memories of the Dobb vs Langston vs Brown battles of the past.

We caught up with him and asked about how he feels about dusting off the riding gear and putting his name on the line against riders like Jeff Emig, Mike Brown, Doug Henry, Rob Herring and so many more.

MXlarge: I spoke to Sebastien this week and he said it will be a lot of fun and he looks forward to seeing everyone again. I assume it is a similar situation for you. You haven’t raced much in recent years, have you?

Dobb: Basically, I am in the plus 50 class and Seb is in the plus 40s. In my class, there will be Mike Brown, Jeff Emig, Rob Herring, Doug Henry (riding a Stark Future with a roll-cage), Billy Mackenzie is in the class with Tortelli, Tommy Searle will race the younger class. The thing is, some people are still serious, and there are others, like me, I just ride for fun. Because of my hands, I can’t push like I want to push, because my hands freeze up and I ride at a safe pace.

MXLarge: I think most people that go there, will be older people, in general, they might take their kids or grandkids along, but many will just want to see guys like yourself, Tortelli, Emig, Nicol, Mackenzie, Searle, Brown and others racing, or even just riding. It is a very relaxed atmosphere I understand and not an all our, balls out racing event, like some of the other veteran races. Kurt Nicol still races pretty hard I understand, what class is he in?

Dobb: Yes, he does, and he is in the 60 plus class, he 60 this year. Kurt still rides on a daily basis, and he does ride days and testing.

MXLarge: I know you have a lot to do with Rob Hering with the stunt work, but does he ride much, and he is still fast?

Dobb: He is probably still a bit like me. I don’t know how fast he will be, but he does ride a bit and it is just a nice day out. Don’t get me wrong, when you get on the start gate, you want to go as fast as you can, but the weekend is a fun weekend, with a lot of old names getting back together. It is serious, but it will be a lot of family and friends having a bit of a giggle. It will be a really nice time to get together.

MXlarge: Obviously it all started with the World Vets at Glen Helen which started in the mid-1980s, and then those races in Italy, the TransBorgaro, which started in the 1970s,  Mammoth Mountain, the VMXdN in the UK, which started I guess a decade ago, there are so many cool veteran races now, it really has become a bit of a movement in our sport and I understand that, because if you look at a Grand Prix or British championship spectator turn-out, there are a lot of old faces wanting to revisit the past.

Dobb: People our age wants to race people of a similar age and its safer and you can have some fun. Then you go to a place like Farleigh Castle, such an iconic track in British motocross, or World motocross history. It makes for a really special weekend.

MXlarge: Did you race at Farleigh as a pro?

Dobb: Yes, I raced the support class in 1989 and I won that. Then, I never raced a GP there, but they had British champion rounds there. I won a couple, got second in a couple. It hasn’t changed too much. People have come in before us and in my eyes ruined it a bit, taking the steps out the back and tried to make it a more traditions set-up, but I liked the old steps. The fundamentals are pretty much the same, the historical first turn around the tree.

MXLarge: I know some of you are going there for some fun and catching up with old friends, but Mike Brown will be hard to beat in his age group. It amazing how he stays so competitive still?

Dobb: Yes, I think the good thing about Mike, he rides all the time and is super-fast, but at his age group, he doesn’t need to push it to his limit, so he can enjoy it, but because he is so fit still and fast, he can not take too many risks, which to be honest, that is how it should be at his age. Motocross is a dangerous sport, and you don’t want to be taking silly risks.

MXlarge: What is the plan on the weekend as far as the fans being able to mingle with the legends?

Dobb: You know Geoff, the riders will be hanging out, they won’t be hidden away anywhere. It will be friends hanging out and the spectators will also be hanging out with us. Our title sponsor is Briggs Commercials, and they have a big tent, with their old bikes on display and everyone is welcome there. They have some historical factory bikes to look at. People like Jeff (Emig) will be in the beer tent at night, he likes a beer. Even when Chad (Reed) was here last year, he was just hanging out with everyone, and he was really popular. You have the old school vibe and then you think about all the former World champions and National champions coming, it will be really exciting for not only us the riders, but also for the fans.

MXLarge: Seb coming on the Stark is big news. The Stark Future is really something that is hugely interesting to everyone.

Dobb: I mean, it is great to have them involved and new things in our sport. Will it ever race against the combustion bike, and everything has its place, and they look like fun bikes to run around on. You think that the Stark is the future, because if you look at Belgium all the tracks are close. Seeing Sebastien racing again, a champion is always a champion and I think he will be really a big deal for the fans. He will find out on the Saturday what he needs to do on the Sunday, because I remember last year when Chad came and he said to me on Saturday night, how he needed to get switched on for the Sunday races, because he didn’t realize how quick some of these veteran riders were. He was a different rider the second day and much quicker. You have Doug (Henry) coming over and I don’t think he has raced in the UK since the 1998 MXdN at Foxhills, so he will be a popular rider on the weekend. It will be fun to see him ride after what he has been to and to be in his position and still want to get on a bike and run around. What is great, a lot of these events, it’s the same riders, while this one, people who went to watch these guys, like Kurt Nicol, Seb Tortelli, Jeff Emig, Mike Brown, a lot of these guys who watched these legends, get to start on the same start line, as long as they are in the same age bracket, that is just great.

Richard Wood Interview

Richard Wood might be a name not known to many outside of his former racing friends and business associates, but he should be well enough known in the coming years as he tries to help the sport of veteran motocross grow in the United Kingdom.

Having already been involved in last years World Vets Motocross event, run at the famous Farleigh Castle circuit, Wood is working together with Darren Hudson to run the event once again in 2024, on the dates of 20 and 21 July.

With a mouth-watering line-up of famous racers, present and past, this years World Vets Motocross event should be a nice addition to the vintage rage, which is currently running around the World.

Of course, the most famous of vintage races over the last 20 years, is the World Vet Motocross championship at the infamous Glen Helen circuit and taking a leaf out of their book, this Farleigh Castle event should attract a large number of spectators and it has without question attracted a large field of riders.

MXLarge: How did you get into motocross?

Wood: I started when I was 15. A school friend of mine had a bike and I always wanted one, so I managed to get one eventually. I borrowed some money off my brother and bought a field bike and went on from there really.

MXLarge: Did you follow motocross as a kid, or you just wanted a motorcycle to ride?

Wood: I used to go and watch a friend race, when I was like seven years old, but it took me all those years to convince my dad that I could have one really. I didn’t really know any of those guys, the racers, it was probably only when I got into my 20s that I started to know who the riders were, more the English guys, because there wasn’t much coverage in the UK. We used to have a little bit on grandstand (a famous sporting show in England), so then there was Dave Thorpe and Graham Noyce, who was coming to the end of his career. I used to ride against Thorpe later in my career, which was really nice.

MXlarge: You raced, what level did you get to?

Wood: I started off in the schoolboys and then progressed to the AMCA and I got into those championships and rode for England in the IMBA and I was sponsored by Kawasaki for about five years. Free bikes every year and that was from around 1986 and I had had sponsorship from Suzuki. When I was riding the AMCA I was winning a lot and did some races in the British championship on a 125, finished in the top ten, but not near the top five. I would win AMCA races and championship races, but I never got there in the ACU. I was a big fish in a small pond in the AMCA, but a small fish in a big pond in the ACU events.

MXLarge: That era was stacked with British riders, on Grand Prix level, but also the British championships has so many really good riders. All classes were stacked.

Wood: Yes, a lot of good guys and a lot of them are still racing and some of the guys I raced back then I still race now.

MXLarge: It seems the veteran events are more attractive than the normal championship events now in the UK, and I have always thought the sport is really only surviving on people above 40 years of age, be that in motocross or even speedway in the UK. Doesn’t seem to be a lot of young riders coming through at a good level.

Wood: I think they are, and I think the sport is also much more expensive and you need a lot to get there. I think now you need a decent team and maybe even pay to get on them. I think the vets’ races, guys can go and race and have a fun time. I think there are too many series, and you don’t need to do a series, just the one-off weekends seem to work better.

MXLarge: One off events like the Foxhills event, or that Arenacross Festival, or anything like that seems to attract a good group of people. I know speaking to promoters in England the focus on a one-day event or not a series is really the way forward for motocross. There seems to be bigger entries for the vets’ races than the major championship events.

Wood: What we try to do is make it more interesting and not just a race weekend. A typical motocross event is bad food, bad toilets and we want to try and run an event that is also for the family, with good entertainment and a lot of things to do for the family. It is more a fun weekend and at night we have bands and numerous bars open and good food outlets, and it is a big change. You couldn’t do that for a series, but you can with these one-off events. When you are older you want more comfort, and our events also cater for the older riders and their families.

MXlarge: What is the background of your event? You ran it last year and how did that go?

Wood: Last year was the first year helping out as a promoter, but I have always helped Darren out with the Acerbis, we also sponsored the Twin Shock series. Darren has always asked me to get involved going forward. I wasn’t sure and then I went to one of the larger events, I just didn’t feel it was run what it could be, so I threw my hat in the ring and see if we could do something more of the riders. Develop something not for making money but make a good event that was more relaxed and fun weekend. I think we go that at the first one we did.

MXLarge: And you have Jack Burnicles doing the commentary. He is obviously a legend in the sport and having him involved adds something. He has some stories to tell about Farleigh and Grand Prix motocross. Also, what was the most difficult thing about setting it all up?

Wood: Yes, it is nice to have Jack involved and he does know a lot about the sport and the era of Thorpe and Noyce and those type of riders. Setting it up, I think a lot of people didn’t know what it was and trying to drive traffic to the website and to the event. Hopefully this year we will be able to do that, and we are more conscious of what might be needed to get people involved.

MXLarge: I know you mentioned some of the names on the riders list and its impressive. Can you let our readers know that list?

Wood: We have a great rider line-up this year with names like Kurt Nicoll, Jeff Emig, Mike Brown, Rob Herring, Tommy Searle, Ryan Morias, Jake Nicolls, Brad Anderson, Graeme Irwin, Jamie Dobb, Billy Mackenzie, Marc Velkeneers and two riders, we cannot mention yet and on machines that will be very interesting to the public and media. We are really excited when these two riders are announced. These two haven’t ridden in the UK since they retired, but are very special riders, who have a lot of Motocross des Nations experience and Worldwide legends. We are excited for our field of riders and we also have a long list of former racers outside this group I mentioned.

MXLarge: The classes I have heard are sold out for 2024?

Wood: This year, when he launched the classes, we sold out for every class within hours. Last year it was really difficult getting riders. We had around 350 riders last year and this year we have close to 600.

MXLarge: The current era is like everyone wants everything done quickly, people don’t have a long attention span and I think older people like us want to be able to enjoy things a little slowly and get the full experience. The old school events seem to suit the older public more, maybe even gives us the chance to remember how it used to be?

Wood: You know, the class that sold out the quickest was the over 50 group. We have 120 over 50 riders and I think we could have filled that to another 120. The reserve list for that class is pretty long. One of the things I found, because I have raced evo races and twin shock races and it’s so hard to keep the bike running. I was spending tones and tones of money on it and now I have a modern bike now and its much cheaper.

MXLarge: Can you explain the classes and machinery they will use?

Wood: We have the over 60s, we have a 40 gate and a 20 gate. So, timed practice, if you are in the first 40, you go on the first gate and the other 20, go on the other gate in their own race and everybody is riding their own level. You don’t want to be doing the same race as Kurt Nicoll for instance if you level isn’t close to his level. A lot of the veteran races I have done in the past, it is more about age and not level. The over 50 race has 120 riders, so they have four different levels, so your Mike Brown, he will be in the top field of 40 and then we have three other races for the other level of over 50 riders.

MXLarge: Do you see many older veterans who have sons racing the event?

Wood: Oh, yes, that is something we are seeing a lot. That is what makes this event so much fun, and also a family thing and the reason we want to make it a comfortable experience for families and not a big wild party. So, this year we also have a futures race, which has been supported really well and generally this is the lads of some of the older riders. We had a twin shock class last year, but we just didn’t get support for it.

S Briggs Commercials to Headline World Vets

As we gear up for the second edition of the World Vets Motocross event at Farleigh, we are thrilled to announce that S Briggs Commercials, a renowned name in the motocross industry, will be the prestigious title sponsor. Last year’s event, a resounding success, left an indelible mark on the public, riders, and legends. Fans were overjoyed to interact with their beloved riders, who graciously spent their evenings engaging in lively conversations, signing autographs, and mingling with everyone.

This year’s event, sponsored by S Briggs Commercials, looks like another memorable one. The USA will have riders in attendance, with Mike Brown returning. Everything points to him riding a Triumph at the event for the first time. The enigmatic Jeff Emig will return, and we’ll be looking to take in the Farleigh atmosphere again. Jeff was a huge favourite with the fans in 2023. Joining the two US riders will be some homegrown favourites from the UK, none other than multiple British Champion and Vice World MX2 Champion Tommy Searle, Britain’s last World Motocross Champion (2001) Jamie Dobb, Kurt Nicholl who finished four times runner-up in the 500cc World Championships. To finish off the multiple MXDN riders is Kurt’s 1994 MXDN winner teammate, Rob Herring! It will be the first time you will catch Kurt and Rob together in the UK this year.

But wait, there’s more! The event will also feature the thrilling racing skills of Brian Wheeler, Jake Nicholls, Ryan Hunt, Brad Anderson, Billy Mackenzie, Mark Eastwood, Glen Phillips, Ryan Voase, Neville Bradshaw, Greg Hanson, and Mark Velkeneers. Their participation is sure to add an extra layer of excitement to the event.

Spencer Briggs -Director – S Briggs Commercial

It’s great to be involved with World Vets, motocross gives our family the most enjoyment!

Richard Wood – Founder -World Vets Motocross

Last year’s event was incredible. To see the array of legends descend on Farleigh was special. We’re pleased to welcome Spencer and his family to the event, and it’s great to see genuine, passionate business leaders support World Vets. S Briggs Commercials continues to support British Motocross.