The Thornwood Motocross Track will honor the memory of one of its most beloved supporters this weekend while the Upstate Motocross season approaches the midway point.
The Hopkinson family-owned and operated MX course in Williamstown will host the eighth annual Brian Cook 840 Memorial Race on Sunday, paying tribute to the deceased Fabius native and popular area moto expert rider.
Brian Cook — a personal friend of the Hopkinson family and avid supporter of the track and other area efforts to promote the sport — died in 2012 when he was struck by a drunk driver after stopping to help someone change a flat tire.
Thornwood MX has held the race in his honor each year since the tragedy, and the event is highlighted by a memorial lap in which riders from all classes join for one trek around the course together to pay their respects.
“We’re just trying to keep his memory alive,” said Adam Hopkinson, a 35 year-old Williamstown native and graduate of Altmar-Parish-Williamstown that manages the track with his dad, Jeff Hopkinson, and other family members.
“(Cook) was just a very friendly guy and always willing to help out, very energetic and happy to be there,” he added. “That’s kind of why we did this because we all miss the guy and he was great to have around, just a great personality, and he had so many friends in the community.”
The races are slated to begin at 10 a.m. Sunday with early practices for each division scheduled to begin at 8:45 that morning. The track will also host an open practice session from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, which will be followed by a free practice for young riders ages 4-6 on the modified 50cc bikes.
Race admission is $10 and kids ages 10 and under get in for free, and Jeff Hopkinson said he expects about 300 race participants overall for various divisions spanning from ages 4 to 65 and older.
The Brian Cook 840 Memorial will mark the third of five Upstate Motocross races on the Thornwood MX schedule this season. The track will host a Labor Day weekend event on Aug. 31-Sept. 1, and the Tomcat 12:1 Memorial is scheduled for Oct. 6 and is held in honor of another fallen friend of the track community, Thomas Walts.
“I’m seeing more and more local townspeople showing up to watch because it’s good entertainment for the day and they all enjoy it,” said Jeff Hopkinson, who recently retired after 44 years as an area potato farmer. “There is a lot of family fun and a lot of families involved with this.”
The Hopkinson family built their track in 2003 for private practice to help Jeff and Adam with their respective motocross endeavors, and after inviting some friends and expanding the course over time, they opened the track for public racing in 2006.
Jeff and Adam Hopkinson each manage the track and handle the multitude of tasks required on race weekends along with Jeff’s wife, Rhonda, his daughter, Heather, and Adam Hopkinson’s girlfriend, Alyssa Graff.
“I just love the sport and so does my family, so we just keep doing it,” Adam Hopkinson said. “It’s a family-oriented sport. My entire family works at the track on weekends, and a lot of families come out to race together and camp out for the weekend, it’s a great time to get people together.”
Jeff Hopkinson was first introduced to motocross as a teenager in Maine, and said he stopped racing at age 20 when he was getting his potato farm established and looking to raise a family.
He was thrust back to the sport at age 48 when his son, Adam, became interested in riding soon after he turned 16-years-old.
“I said if I’m going to do this every weekend I’m going to have to get a dirt bike and start riding again myself, so at age 48 I started all over again,” Jeff Hopkinson said.
The Thornwood MX events are part of Upstate Motocross, which is a regional touring series that consists of five tracks within the state — Thornwood MX, Motomasters in Mexico, Frozen Ocean in Auburn, Cato MX Park in Cayuga County, and Broome-Tioga in Lisle — and features nearly 30 races overall per year with rotating host sites.
The season spans early April to late October and is capped off by an awards banquet every January in Liverpool.