Community Sports

Koetje father, son big part of inaugural Bull Run Motocross

Vance Koetje races through a turn during Thursday Night Motocross at Hannegan Speedway on Thursday, Aug. 6, in Bellingham.
Vance Koetje races through a turn during Thursday Night Motocross at Hannegan Speedway on Thursday, Aug. 6, in Bellingham. The Bellingham Herald

A little bit of bull riding and a little bit of barrel racing, Tim Koetje explained.

The Mount Baker Motorcycle Club member uses this analogy for the sport of motocross in an attempt to highlight the danger of the sport with the thrill of the racing and as a father of motocross rider Vance Koetje, 8, that combination is frightening.

“I’ve seen him fly 10 to 12 feet in the air and land 20 to 30 feet down the track. As a father you just think ‘What have I done? What have I done?” Tim Koetje said Thursday, Aug. 6, before a night of racing at Hannegan Speedway. “The world stands still. It’s only 10 minutes of racing, but it might as well be an hour.”

Vance Koetje is one of the Northwest’s bright young riders, as he’s been riding since he was 18 months old and started competing at age 4. By 5, he was the state champion in his age group. Currently he sits atop the 51cc (7-8) and the 50cc GP standings at Hannegan Speedway.

“I saw people doing it and then I wanted to do it,” Vance Koetje said of how he got into the sport. “I enjoy making new friends every weekend.”

He will also be competing in the inaugural Bull Run Motocross at the Northwest Washington Fair on Saturday, Aug. 22, in Lynden. The event is an invitational that has attracted the Northwest’s top professionals, including locals Josh Jackson (Lynden), Bonzai Billings (Everson), Danny Brocker (Ferndale), Kyle Vandyken (Lynden), Robbie Harvey (Bellingham) and Brad Ludwigsen (Ferndale), as well as some of the best local amateurs.

“Bull Run is an event I helped put together to help showcase what we think is the best sport on earth and to bring awareness and support to it. The goal is to try and create the Super Bowl of Northwest motocross,” said Tim Koetje, who has headed the project. “There aren’t any other large events up in the Northwest Washington area. Most of the events typically aren’t invitationals so they just hope people show up. The invitational means it’s going to be all the top riders from B.C. to the U.S.”

The project came to fruition when fair directors were wondering how to fill the Saturday opening of the grandstand. Tim Koetje suggested motocross.

“I happened to stumble into it. this wasn’t a vision. We were having a hard time filling that spot and I said ‘Put in a motocross event; everyone likes that,’” Tim Koetje said. “It’s been a great adventure. I think it’s going to bring a great amount of awareness to the club and that’s the goal. If you bring up the riders and bring the fans to the stands they’ll see that there’s a lot of stuff happening here.”

While Tim Koetje will make sure everything runs smoothly, he’ll also be keeping an eye on his son.

“I’m already scared but we know how to do it. We’ve done it before. You tell them you love them before they leave and let them go,” Tim Koetje said. “It’s exhilarating; it’s terrifying; it’s very emotional. It’s scary to see him succeed but when he does it’s an overwhelming emotion because you can tell where he is as a person. The confidence they build here transfers into day-to-day life so well.”

Vance Koetje has had plenty of crashes, but he’s always returned to the bike and that’s what makes his father most proud.

Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or

2015 Bull Run Motocross

Saturday, Aug. 22

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Northwest Washington Fairgrounds grandstand