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Reflections on the 2001 AMA 125 Outdoor National Motocross Championship

The 125 motocross championship that ended yesterday with Mike Brown’s dramatic victory and Grant Langston’s equally dramatic defeat requires further comment. None of the top riders in the series was ever willing to give up, despite circumstances that might have made lesser men do so.

A bit earlier, the championship was a three-way battle between Langston, Brown and Travis Pastrana. A series of heavy crashes led Pastrana to decide (rightly) to end his season. Pastrana was not the only rider to face adversity, however. Both Brown and Langston had multiple DNFs this year, and Langston rode through incredible pain following a very serious shoulder separation.

Having some knowledge of the seriousness of Langston’s shoulder injury, and having heard from other experienced motocross racers just how much pain Langston was enduring to ride, I gained even more respect for the young South African.

Both Langston and Brown had tremendous pressure as the season wound down. Langston had the weight of KTM on his shoulders, and he had already so significantly contributed to the resurgence of KTM in the USA. After his supercross victory earlier this year, MD predicted Langston would win the Outdoor title. He fell a little bit short, but he didn’t disappoint MD or anyone else. Riding through tremendous pain and the frustration that goes with it, he proved himself a worthy champion and we have no doubt he will wear that title many more times in the next decade.

Mike Brown had his own heavy burdens to carry. Riding for Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit Kawasaki team (a team with a tremendous history of championships in the 125 class, but also a recent dry spell), Brown was the returning warrior — the American who had spent time in Europe chasing the World championship without success. Much older than Langston, Brown had good reason to believe he deserved the title this year. No one rode harder than Brown, and at several tracks he clearly had more speed than anyone else.

Congratulations to Mike Brown on his championship, and to Grant Langston on his champion’s heart.