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History of Hangtown: Event Celebrates 50 Years of Local Motocross

SACRAMENTO -- The Hangtown Motocross Classic is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this weekend.

The race has evolved a significant amount from when it first began back in 1969. The very first race was held in Placerville.

"That was in a place called Murray's Chicken Ranch, that was in Placerville," said Glyn Long of Dirt Diggers Motorcycle Club. "Hence the name 'Hangtown' because Placerville was known as Hangtown. The idea was we were going to stay there but it didn't work out so we moved over to Plymouth."

"I think we were there 10 or 12 years. Then it got out of control, we couldn't control the spectators," said Sam White, who raced in the very first Hangtown event.

The first race had only about 300 fans in attendance. But by 1974, the race had gained so much momentum that the governing body of motocross, AMA Pro Racing, asked to join and paid $7,000 on a handshake deal to come aboard.

"Back in the beginning, they were more like one of us and we rode with them and watched them race and it was one big happy family," Glyn said. "Now, it's a business, it's a profession right now."

Still, back in the '70s, the Hangtown event in Plymouth was attracting 50,000 fans to the weekend races.

"And that's what happened, the town just couldn't accommodate it," Glyn told FOX40.

Then, in 1979, the Hangtown event moved right to Prairie City and has remained there ever since.

"Never once thought it would reach this level," Glyn said. "I mean, that really wasn't even in the picture. Now it's here, so you've got to be proud of it."

The action at Prairie City continues Friday with the amateurs on the track. Then Saturday belongs to the pros with a full day of racing.