AMA races draw pro riders to OHV Park
One of the nation’s premiere motocross events — the Monster Energy Road to Mammoth — is coming to Porterville’s OHV Park this weekend.
Myron Short, owner of Porterville-based 2X Productions, says attendees can expect to see some 100 professional motocross riders from across the Western states, as well as A-class amateurs hoping to join their ranks. Riders will compete in more than 30 classes all day long Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m.
Tickets are $20 for the entire weekend, including practice sessions on Saturday, or $10 for just Sunday’s races.
“We’re bringing AMA (American Motorcycle Association) pro racing to Porterville for the first time,” said Short.
Sunday’s races are part of the qualifying series for the final in Mammoth in June, with competitors here vying for a coveted spot in that event. The winner in Mammoth will earn the “King of the West” title.
“Mammoth is the largest motocross event of the year,” said Short. Because final registration for Sunday’s races won’t begin until Saturday afternoon, Short is unsure of exactly how large a field the event will draw. “We had 300 racers for Round 1 of the series.”
That set of races took place in Hesperia on Feb. 24. Short, who took over that event for the first time in 2013, said the races drew three times as many competitors as were seen in previous years, as well as scores of race fans.
“You’re not going to see a busier day out there,” said Donnie Moore, head of the city’s Parks and Leisure Services Department, which operates the city-owned, state-funded off-highway vehicle park. “It’s spectacular.”
The city opened the park, which was originally a water runoff basin, to off-highway riders in 1998, eventually growing it from a single track shared by all off-road riders to four separate tracks, accommodating motocross, child riders, ATVs and 50cc bikes.
“We’ve been fortunate in getting grants from the state over the years,” Moore said. Those funds have been used to run and expand the 10-acre facility. Besides 2X Productions, at least two other race promoters, Central Valley Racing and the Over-the-Hill Gang, have nine different racing events planned for the OHV Park this year.
“None of those have dates now,” Moore said. “They’re working on the insurance.”
When the park isn’t being used for private events and races, for which organizers pay the city a rental and usage free, it is open to the public on weekends. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. now, and will change on April 1, when weekend hours of 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as 4 p.m. to dusk on Wednesdays, begin.
Usage fees range from $5 to $15, and spectators must pay a $2 gate. More details are available at the OHV Park website, http://www.ci.porterville.ca.us/depts/parksandleisure/ohvpark.cfm.
While the cost of running the park falls to the city, at least the portions not covered by state grants, the returns from events like this weekend’s more than make up for the investment.
“It’s going to have to be good for the economy. You’re talking food, drinks, hotels,” Short said. “We brought $5 million to Mammoth Lakes in economic impact in 10 days. That floats them for the summer.”
Approximately 10,000 people attended each day of last year’s final in Mammoth, Short said, and as a native of Porterville he wanted to see some of that economic windfall directed this way. While he prints much of his promotional materials such as T-shirts using companies based here, the greater economic impact comes from hosting the actual events. That wouldn’t be possible, he said, without the proper facility.
“If the city didn’t have the park, we couldn’t do this,” Short said. “It’s critical for the OHV Park to be there. It’s critical for the city or an individual to be running it.”
The benefits to the city don’t end there. Local amateur motocross rider Josh Camarena, who will be racing this Sunday, said having a top-quality facility at hand made his participation in the sport possible. While he had the talent to compete in what he calls a “very physical and mentally tough sport,” and the drive to win, Camarena said having access to the Porterville OHV Park was also a key factor in his advancement.
Camarena has done so well as an amateur rider, he hopes to become a pro in the very near future, perhaps with the help of a win this weekend.
“I hope to go pro this year or early next,” he said.
Coincidentally, the city is currently going through the grant application process with the State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, and is calling for public comments on its application. Moore said the city receives additional “points” in its favor when citizens provide positive comments about the park.
The public input period is open until April 1. To make a comment, visit the state’s website at http://olga.ohv.parks.ca.gov/egrams_ohmvr/user/home.aspx, and follow the instructions there.
For more information about the OHV Park, its upcoming grant application or other Parks and Recreation projects and events, contact them at 784-7695.
The OHV Park is located at 2701 W. Scranton Ave.
Contact Dave Adalian at 784-500, Ext. 1043, or email@example.com.