This year marked the 10 year anniversary of the Widowmaker Event in Croydon. The event was started in 2002 with the help of Albert Wilde and his family. The Widowmaker Hillclimb and Adventure Expo is a three-day event that brings in riders from all over the U.S. and Canada to try to climb the 1000 foot hill.
The exposition offers activities for the whole family including helicopter rides and the all new Super Mini-Moto SX Challenge. The mini-moto was new to this year’s event, but is not new to Morgan. The challenge used to be known as the Morgan Mini-Moto. It was initially run in conjunction with the Morgan County Fair by Johnny and Megan Wilkinson, but scheduling and conflicting events left a void that was picked up last-minute by the Widowmaker. Local supporters hope that this may result in mini-moto being an annual event at the Widowmaker, and extend to other dates as the Morgan Mini-Moto series had done for several years.
When you cross the bridge and under the arch, you can feel the excitement in the air. The professionals, amateurs and even mini-moto participants seemed to be one big happy family. Over 40 vendors, including long time supporter Morgan Valley Polaris, were on site showing and selling everything connected to motorcycles and extreme sports. There were also plenty of food and beverage vendors on hand to help combat the heat of the day. Children’s activities such as face painting, water balloons and bounce houses were offered free of charge.
There are more than 450 professional and 350 amateur riders in the series and it is part of the Rockwell PRO Hillclimb Series. The Rockwell series is the most elite hillclimb series in the nation. The first stop of the series takes place in Billings, Mont. and wraps up there as well. Riders from all over the country charge these hills in hopes of getting their share of the $175,000 pro purse as well as the Rockwell Time Championship watch.
The Widowmaker has a long and famous history of extreme motorcycle racing dating back to the early 1960s, from the days with Malcolm Smith and Steve McQueen in “On Any Sunday” to Travis Pastrana and “The Nitro Circus.” When you stand at the bottom of the hill and look up at more than 40 stories of rock, brush, dirt and motorcycle parts, it is easy to see why this hill is seen as the ultimate test.
The Widowmaker was voted “Toughest Hillclimb in the World” seven years in a row and has three different courses. The Pro Exhibition Hill is 1000 feet and has a 76 percent grade. There have been more than 4500 attempts on the championship hill in the last nine years with only 20 athletes making it to the top. The Pro Altered Hill, known as “MOE’s Hill” is 550 feet and is tamed only by pure horsepower, nerves of steel and adrenaline. The third hill is the Trophy Hill and offers different challenges to amateur riders ranging from 3 years old to 85. They ride everything from 50cc shaft drives to vintage classics and the latest in motorcycle technology.
Since there is not yet a hotel in Morgan County, the Widowmaker offers camping alternatives to those who want to stay right at the event. Spectators mentioned that camping was “definitely the best way to experience the event.”
Professional photos were taken of the entire event by The Infinity Machine and can be viewed online at www.theinfinitymachine.com. There are quite a few to scroll through, but they help you see what a challenge this hill is for the riders and how much fun they have doing it.