For a lot of us motorcycle enthusiasts, our obsession with motorcycles or even motorsports in general began sometime during our youth. I don’t know exactly what it was about motorcycles that sparked my fascination. Was it the fact that they’re loud and menacingly fast or was it because my middle name is Danger and I have an audacious propensity to make my mom nervous? All I knew was that I was hooked and nothing was going to change that. Sorry, Mom…
Racetracks are a part of the community same as football fields, baseball diamonds, skating rinks or any sort of recreational facility for that matter. Well, they might not be exactly the same, but they can serve the same purpose. Professional motorcycle racing, whether it be motocross, flat track or road racing, is not all that different from the NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. All sports need a feeder system. Most stick and ball sports use high schools and colleges as feeder systems, but motorcycling is a little different.
Paved or dirt, local racetracks are where tomorrow’s professional racers get their start, and if you’re like me, it was with the help of your family. I mean, I’m not a professional racer, but if it weren’t for my parents introducing and taking me to the track, I don’t know if my addiction to motorcycles would have ever blossomed to this level.
Going to the local racetracks, whether to ride, race or simply watch, is a great reason to get out of the house and be active. If that isn’t enough to spark some motivation, heading to the local track is also a great way to support and get involved in the motorcycle community, because that’s exactly what it is – a community. If you’ve never been, I highly encourage you to go. Motorcycle racing is a family affair and can be incredibly exciting to watch, even for the young ones. Additionally, ticket prices are never expensive for spectators attending local club races. Grab a cooler, pack a picnic and bring the kids out for a unique experience, before it’s too late…
Local racetracks may annoy people for obvious audible reasons and many tracks have been forced to shut down and close their gates as a result of it. The noise has never bothered me though, the sound of motors revving to the stratosphere is music to my ears. “Pipe music” – as my dad calls it. Countless racetracks in Southern California including Ascot Park, Ontario Motor Speedway, Riverside Raceway and Lions Drag Strip, just to name a few, have all been shut down to make room for shopping malls and hotels. Irwindale Speedway is another racetrack on the chopping block that will close its doors at the end of January. For what reason you ask? Yep, you guessed it! Another shopping mall.
Fortunately, the motorcycle community is strong and unwavering in its pursuit to find places to go ride. We live for this stuff. Whether it’s riding or racing, motorcycling is healthy because it’s challenging. If you’re committed enough (and it’s easy to get hooked), motorcycling will force you to practice and get better. After all, it is dangerous. Everyone knows that, but it’s because of this inherent and obvious danger that makes riding fun and exhilarating. Every time you go out riding and return safely, you’ve essentially cheated death, and it’s extremely gratifying in a visceral way. If you like racing, and if you’re reading this, you probably already know what I’m talking about.
Support your local racetrack. Whichever type of racing is held there, we need to support it. The future of our sport is being created on racetracks all over the world. Your local track is just like the track that Nicky Hayden came from, or the one where Ben and Eric Bostrom learned their skills. It’s just like the track where a thousand other racers you’ve never heard of got their start. Most importantly, we need new talent every year, whether it’s road racing, motocross, flat track or any other form of motorcycle racing. They all have to start somewhere, and that’s at local tracks.
Despite how many racetracks have been closed, there are still plenty out there and odds are, there’s one not far from wherever you are. A little Googling should show you what’s going on at the local track, or better yet, take a ride to one in person to check it out first hand. The sights, sounds and smells should be enough to entice you to come back. Get out there, do something different and help keep our sport alive!