It's 40 years, and one day, since Mount St Helens erupted, killing at least 57, and, far less importantly, but more relevantly, burying Castle Rock racetrack. I remember hearing about the eruption, it made world news. I'm sure there had been volcanic eruptions elsewhere in the world in my young life, but as a just turned nine-year-old, and it being in America, Mount St Helens was quite the attention-grabber.
This photo popped up on social media yesterday. It was taken on the day of the eruption, when the area had already been closed and evacuated due to so much seismic action. According to the Willamette Week, the photo was taken by Frederick Lasher, the owner of the Ford Pinto and Yamaha IT400 pictured. The paper quotes a friend explaining Lasher was going to ride at Spirit Lake, within a few miles of the volcano. He slept in on the morning of the ride otherwise he'd have been buried in burning ash. 'The ash cloud overtook him, but he eventually made it out, and even went back the next day, capturing photos of the devastation, and ended up getting airlifted out and spending the night in jail.'
Up to that point Castle Rock had been a regular on the GNC calendar, but it was completely buried and needed reconstructing from scratch. Even though the racetrack was back and operating just over two years later, with Brad Hurst (below), and hosted GNC races again, including Jeffrey Carver's first Grand National win, in 2013, the Pacific Northwest track never cemented itself back as a regular.
Who'd have thought, 30-something years later, I'd be one of the organisers, along with See See and the Mount St Helens MC, of a bunch of Dirt Quake motorcycle races just 30 or so miles due east of the volcano. It's only now I realise how apt the Dirt Quake name was for this race held at a track on a geological fault line.
The aftermath. Ash from the volcano landed on 11 US states and two Canadian provinces. Photos: USGS