The Dakota Motorcross dirt track received a professional rebuild last week, in time for its official motocross season opener this weekend in Jamestown.
Tracy Freeman, a motocross track builder from the Kansas City area, spent last week at the dirt track north of the Stutsman County Fairgrounds working on the project. His company is MX343 LLC.
“Every year the bikes get more advanced, the riders get more advanced and the track needs to come along too or the track gets kind of left behind,” Freeman said.
Freeman was the track builder for the Hoosier Racing Tire Arenacross Series, the Ponca City Motoplayground Race and Baja Brawl, events well known to motocross riders.
The Dakota Motocross board members saw Freeman’s work at other tracks and wanted to get a professional to upgrade the Jamestown track, said Jett Mutschler, president of the board. Mutschler said the number of riders and spectators is growing at the Jamestown track. Last year there were 42 bikes on the track at one time and that was another reason to upgrade and make the track larger, he said.
Dakota Motocross leases the land used for the track site from the Stutsman County Fair Association. In April, the association board approved expanding the area another acre at the request of Dakota Motocross, said Mike Williams, board president.
“To speak on behalf of the board, we’re happy the organization is doing well and expanding and we are supportive of all of their endeavors,” Williams said.
Mutschler said the project would not have been possible without the help of Jamestown Tourism, which awarded Dakota Motocross a $10,000 grant from the City Promotional Capital Construction Fund to hire a professional track builder.
“They’ve been a huge help,” Mutschler said.
Searle Swedlund, executive director of Jamestown Tourism, noted that motocross is a well-followed sport and growing in North Dakota.
“So communities like Jamestown can often benefit from being on the front end of a new and up and coming sport,” he said. “That’s kind of how we see this. We see this as maybe not as mainstream as what’s going on across the way at the Speedway but we believe that it is something that is going to continue to grow and having a facility that meets the needs of a growing sport will certainly put Jamestown on the map.”
Freeman said the project will provide better track flow and better jumps for riders.
“I’d like to say bigger, safer jumps,” he said. “Bigger landings are always safer.”
The track rebuild should offer better racing and hopefully bring in riders from a greater distance, he said.
“The ultimate goal is to increase the pro rider turnout,” Freeman said. “Most tracks already have a solid C class and mid-range riders and little bikes. … but sometimes it’s hard to get and build a pro class if the track doesn’t offer the kind of skill level that a pro rider needs.”
At the same time, it’s important to have a safe track that appeals to amateur riders also, he said.
“Safe family fun is the goal,” Mutschler said. “Try to keep everything as safe as possible.”
Mutschler said last year on average, there were from 300 to 350 riders per day at the primary events that are held on three weekends during the season. This year, those events are scheduled for April 24-25, June 12-13 and Sept. 25-26, which is the same weekend as the Stockcar Stampede. The last event of the season features the “Dash for Cash” that draws in pros from other states with a $3,500 payout to the top five riders, Mutschler said.
Last year the races drew about 1,000 spectators over each of the three weekends, Mutschler said.
“Our goal is to keep getting bigger,” he said.
Freeman said the Jamestown track’s location is a huge draw because it’s close to amenities, which isn’t the norm in the sport.
“I feel like you guys have a rare jewel here being in town,” he said. “Being right here close to town, being this close to hotels, being this close to nice restaurants, all that is rare where most motocross facilities are forced way to the country and a long ways away” from towns. Along with the amenities, there is also ample camping available near the track.
The Dakota Motocross board members say the Jamestown track’s central location in the state is another advantage.
“A lot of our turnout has to do with us being close to Fargo,” Mutschler said. They will get 50 extra day riders (riders who are not members of the state association) on practice days and during the weekend events due to that, he said.
Dakota Motocross (Jamestown) is part of the North Dakota Motorcycle Association series that also includes Bismarck, Mandan, Dickinson, Williston and Glen Ullin.
In the motocross races, there are 26 riders on dirt bikes in the starting gate who will make five laps, with the winner being the first to cross the finish line. Trophies are awarded to the winners.
People of all ages ride in the events in specific classes, the board says, from young to riders over 50.
“There’s a skill level for all ages,” Freeman said.
Corey Murchie, vice president of Dakota Motocross, said motocross is a family sport.
“The kids are racing with their dads,” noted Randi Mutschler, board treasurer.
Improvements were also made to the pit bike track for children. There is also an RC car track for Stacyc races for very young children. It’s part of offering more for those who come to the events, Jett Mutschler said.
“The pit bike track is definitely fun for the rest of the family,” Freeman said.
Mutschler said Dakota Motocross previously received funding from Jamestown Tourism for a crow’s nest and announcing system at the site. He credited the work in getting the track rebuilt completed to the efforts of the board, Titan Machinery, Interstate Towing and Jamestown Tourism.
For this weekend’s event, practice starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and the races follow. Mutsch Trucking is sponsoring the trophies for this event.
Admission is $7 for spectators.
The members of the board, in addition to Jett Mutschler, Murchie and Randi Mutschler, are Ross Mutschler and Candace Murchie. Annual membership in Dakota Motocross, which ranges from 50 to 70 each year, is $50 for an individual or $100 for a family.
For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page or www.dakotamotcross.com.