Motocross miracle man

Motocross miracle man

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Willie Thomson was also the organiser of 13 Tumbulgum Natural Terrain Motocross events at Quarry Farm.

Willie Thomson might not be a household name in the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale, but in the world of Motocross, he is legendary.

After a storied 30-year career in Motocross and Enduro, which saw him become a national champion twice over, the Cardup local then set his sights on resurrecting an ailing but much-loved event – the Manjimup 15,000 – which he grew into the largest and most iconic Motocross event in the country.

The Manjimup 15,000, dubbed ‘the Olympics of Australia’s Motocross scene’, now brings around 500 riders and 5000 spectators to the Southern Forests, making it the biggest event on the region’s calendar.

The seniors race at the 2022 Manjimup 15,000 event. Photograph – True Spirit Photos

But that’s not all he’s brought back to life.

Like all legendary figures, Willie is the hero in a tale that defies belief. Because, by rights, he should be dead right now.

In September 2022, Willie went out trail riding in the Peel region with his son, a mate and three SAS soldiers.

“A tree was down across the track, and I glanced off it and into another bigger tree at 140kph – Bang!” he said.

“It’s a mistake I’ve never made before – they call me Mr Smooth because I don’t make mistakes – I’ve never had a crash in 20 years. But this one was monumental.”

It’s probably easier to list the parts of Willie that weren’t shattered after that one fateful error.

He broke over 60 bones, ruptured his kidneys, liver, and urinary tract. He crushed his windpipe. And one of his ribs punctured his lung and ripped his aorta. Willie was technically dead for four-and-a-half minutes.

“The doctors call me the miracle man,” he said.

“The heart surgeon said: ‘it simply isn’t possible to survive what you went through, and yet here you are. It just wasn’t your time to go’.”

Willie was put into an induced coma for three weeks. He would spend the next five months in hospital.

“I was the most complicated case in all of Fiona Stanley – they told me that regularly,” he said.

“I had to relearn to walk, talk, eat, even breathe again – I couldn’t to nothing.”

By April last year he had finally learned to walk without crutches, but it was too late to save the 2023 Manjimup 15,000, which runs over the June long weekend.

“It was a big decision to cancel it – but I wasn’t capable,” he said.

“I don’t even know if I’m capable this year, but I’m going for it. Once I’ve made up my mind, not much can stop me.”

News of the Manjimup 15,000 returning in 2024 went viral when Willie, like the proverbial Lazarus, announced his comeback late last year.

“Absolutely cannot wait, Willie Thomson. Epic comeback on so many levels. We should all feel blessed,” Simen TenTije said.

“Take my hat off to you Willie Thomson, you run the best events in the land,” Rodney Sid Baker said.

“You’re an inspiration and a legend all rolled into one little Scottish package. So glad you’re back Willie! And as a bonus we get Manji back and I have a feeling it will be the best one yet,” Steve Metty said.

Willie has said he is determined to make this one the biggest yet.

“Everyone tells me they’re coming to Manjimup this year because they missed it last year. I’ve got texts and emails coming at me from all over Australia,” he said.

“We’ve locked in three international pros, and I’m talking to a guy from Holland now.

And we just landed a big fish.”

Five-time career AMA Pro Motocross Championship 250 winner Dean Wilson, who’s currently ranked third for World Supercross, will join the cream of Australia’s Motocross scene, including defending champion Todd Waters at Manjimup next month.

 

The Winners from the 2022 Manjimup 15,000 event: Todd Waters, Aaron Tanti, and Brett Metcalfe. Photograph – True Spirit Photos

And for the first time in the event’s history, Willie will host a four-cross mountain bike event featuring eight-time MTB World Champion Sam Hill – an addition which is causing a huge buzz in the community.

“We’re building the track for that now – I’m spending five out of seven days a week down at Manjimup,” he said.

“And it’s going well. We’re about 90 per cent of the way there.”

But he’s not doing it alone. Willie has a support team behind him to do the leg work, while he focusses on being the brains of the operation.

When asked why he’s pushing himself to get back on the horse after such cataclysmic trauma, he said it was his ‘own personal medicine’.

“It’s such a special event. And I was destined to do this.”

The event attracts over 500 riders in its junior and senior classes