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.