NEOTTNews - Special Edition - Sooner Cup
With the 2018 Sooner Cup fast approaching, NEOTTNews reached out to the winner of the first Sooner Cup back in 1986 and asked Rick "Brand X" Land to write-up his rider profile and some of his special memories of the event. The "Brand X" nickname was given to Rick by the MATT guys back in the mid-70s because he was the only top rider on a Japanese bike while everyone else was riding Spanish bikes.
Rick "Brand X" Land - Master Class Winner of the first Sooner Cup in 1986
A couple of years later we moved to town and my riding was limited to the back yard. It didn’t take long out exploring on my bicycle before I found an area not far from our house where kids and adults gathered to ride their motorcycles. It was an area with a few trails, jumps and things like that, nothing big but way better than the back yard. Before long my Dad could see the little Harley was quickly succumbing to it’s off-road life and purchased a new 1973 Yamaha AT-3 125 Enduro for me to ride.
My Dad got home from work and found me tussling with the head light on the shiny new Yamaha and asked what I was doing? I look back on that moment now and realize he was really pretty calm about what he found me doing. I told him that Fred and I were going to a motorcycle trial and Fred said we should take our lights off. He asked the obvious “What’s a Trials and why do the lights need to come off”? My answer that neither Fred nor I knew what trials was, but that the lights should come off for it, apparently wasn’t the answer my Dad was looking for. He just said put the lights back on and we’ll go and see what this trials thing is this weekend. So that weekend we went out on a cold, cloudy, rainy, drizzly day, perfect trials weather and watched our first trials….needless to say I was hooked!!! The next week I was nailing 2x4s together to make a log to ride over with the Yamaha, standing on the passenger pegs to make it easier to lift the front wheel, I was a trials rider!!!
The fall of 1974, I rode my first Novice trial, which happened to be the very first Quarry Cup event held at Kansas City. We heard a guy named Lane Leavitt who was the National Trials Champion was going to be there and we wanted to see him ride. Saturday there were exhibition sections, we were amazed to watch Lane, Kirk Mayfield, Jack Jacaty and the top local experts Dale Malasek and JB Miller ride these slick rocky gullies we didn’t think anyone could get through. Seeing these guys ride really inspired me and I kept working with the TL, pushing it to do more and more, but it had its limitations. My Dad could see the TL was now holding me back, so around January 1975 he went to the local Yamaha dealer where he had purchased our other bikes, they had a new TY250 Cat sitting on the showroom floor that nobody had yet to show any interest in, at that time most everyone wanted the Spanish bikes.
During this time my Dad took me to every event he could get me to so I could ride against better riders and improve. Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, we did a lot of traveling, riding against riders like Kirk Mayfield, Tim Carr, Curt Comer, Charlie Mallow, Greg Ruoff, Mack Burnett and many others plus my usual buddies Dale and JB. That year Dale took me to my first National event held in Fairplay Colorado. It was a 2-day event with both days counting toward the overall finish, not two separate events like they do nowadays. It was quite a learning experience, I saw a lot of riders that I had only read about in magazines, but I wasn’t intimidated, I watched them and learned. The next month there was an article in Dirt Rider magazine about that event, I was referenced in the article as the youngest rider to compete in the Championship Class at that time, 14 years old, they also mentioned another young man by the name of Bernie Schreiber, and he was a whopping 16 at the time.
The next year '76 my Dad traded the Yellow Yamaha for the new Blue model that was much improved. We continued traveling to any events we could make. Many times I rode a trial every weekend of the month. My Dad also took me to some of the nationals that year which helped me gain more experience, I was doing well locally and my National results were steadily improving.
In '77 my Yamaha days were over
and I moved to the new Montesa Cota 348 Malcolm Rathmell Replica, my Dad took
me to as many Nationals as he could that year. We traveled to the West coast,
Oregon, Washington and California, Texas, Oklahoma and to the National in
Michigan which was also the US World round that year. What an opportunity!
The US riders were riding at the same time, in the same sections and on the same lines as the World guys. Mick Andrews, Martin Lampkin, Vesterinen, Rathmell and many more, we were side-by-side with them, our trials heroes we only saw in magazines. I learned a lot that year, by the end of the '77 season I was finishing in the top ten at the National events and had won the Quarry Cup along with most of the other major 2-day events in the area.
The next year '78, I graduated High School and rode as many local events as I could. That was the year I met my Lovely Wife Sherri, that fall we were married and off on our own adventures. I was riding some local events occasionally but spent more time working and starting our family.
After joining the Military in 1983
and moving to Wichita in 1984 with my job, my riding picked up and I started
riding the Nationals again in 1985. The sport had changed quite a bit, most of
the guys I rode with before were gone. I worked hard at learning the new techniques
and by the later part of the 80’s had scored another top ten finish at a
national, I achieved that feat once more in the early 90’s making a top ten
finish in three different decades.
Dustin followed in his Dad and Grandpas footsteps and joined the Military in 1999, by the early 2000’s he was married and starting his own family. In 2003 Dustin was getting the itch to ride again so he contacted our old friend Dale Malasek, who was the GasGas importer. Dale had some bikes on hand that were used in the Scottish Six Day Trial and as minder bikes at the USA world round and would soon be available. Dustin wondered, would Dad like to start riding again?