MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Washougal MX Park patriarch Ralph Huffman, a legend of motocross racing in the Pacific Northwest, died Monday at the age of 83.
“The vibrant motocross scene of the Pacific Northwest, which is among the most passionate in the country, simply would not carry the prominence it does without the influence of Ralph Huffman,” said Davey Coombs, Vice President of MX Sports Pro Racing. “His passion and his unique vision rejuvenated the Washougal National and made the scenic Washougal MX Park a destination for any motocross fan. More importantly, through his love of the sport he fostered a community of enthusiasts that is bigger and stronger than ever.”
A native of Roseburg, Ore., Huffman’s ties to motocross date back to the 1970s, during the sport’s infancy in the U.S., which eventually connected him to Washougal MX Park in the early 1980s. He first sought to help the track in whatever capacity was needed, but his passion and unwavering commitment soon allowed him to become an integral part of the team, notably for the annual Washougal National. By the late ‘80s Huffman had assumed the rights to the lease of the property, which became a turning point in the history of both the track and the event.
After the American Motorcyclist Ass’n elected to forego a visit to Washougal in 1987, Huffman dedicated all his time, effort and resources into upgrading the facility. He was determined to not only bring the Nationals back to Washougal, but also make the event a cornerstone of the world’s most prestigious motocross championship.
The return of the Washougal National in 1988 was a success and the event is now one of the sport’s marquee showcases each and every year thanks to its impeccable scenery, truly unique and challenging layout, and one-of-a-kind home crowd. The Huffmans obtained ownership of the track in the 1990’s and Ralph, his wife Carolyn, and son Ryan have spearheaded the operations ever since.
While the Washougal National is the crown jewel of motorsports events in the Pacific Northwest, it’s the booming amateur motocross scene that has truly helped foster the legacy of Washougal MX Park and represents the four decades of dedication by the Huffman family. For motocross enthusiasts throughout the region, Washougal is hallowed ground. It is a symbol of everything they love about the sport.
On weekends throughout the year riders will come by the hundreds to set up camp and take advantage of the opportunity to sprint up Horsepower Hill and weave in and out of the trees that surround the track. It’s one of the most unique and captivating experiences the sport has to offer, and none of it would be possible without Ralph Huffman’s willingness to make his dream a reality all those years ago.
“Ralph was cut from the same cloth as my dad, Dave Coombs, Sr., Gene Ritchie at RedBud, and Ward Robinson at Unadilla,” added Coombs. “They each shared a love for the sport that was so strong that it became bigger than them. It drove them to dream big and create an environment where the mutual love of motocross could be celebrated by everyone. They wanted to create something their communities would be proud of, that motocross enthusiasts would seek to journey to, and that the world would recognize as the pinnacle of the sport. It’s not a surprise that this shared passion was passed down to future generations and became the family business for all of us. Ralph Huffman will be greatly missed, but his impact on the sport will never be forgotten.”
Huffman is survived by his wife, Carolyn, nine children, and more than 30 grandchildren and great grandchildren.