It is easy to fall into the habit of your favorite MX track, where you know every jump and berm like the back of your hand. But, if you want to change things up, Southern California has a wide variety of options for the MX enthusiast.
It’s human nature. My friends do it, I do it, and I’m sure most of you have done it as well. What I’m talking about here is getting stuck in the groove of going to your favorite track and ignoring all other options because you’re comfortable with the one you go to.
There are some pros and cons to this behavior. The most obvious pro is that after a while, you start to know your favorite track like the top of your handlebars. When every rut, berm, table and triple have become your loyal subjects, faithfully bowing to your might. This in turn makes you faster around the track and therefore builds your confidence. Confidence can be a moto breaker if you don’t have it, so this all sounds great right?
Well, yes and no. For some of the newer guys, variety in your riding is what will prepare you for the unexpected and further your skills best. If you switch up your riding venues often you get the experience of each track, learn to read terrain for what it is and not just pull up rote memory of how you hit the last table top 6 inches from the left in order to setup for the hairpin and roost inside the newbs still figuring it out.
Variety-wise, no one has it better than the guys and gals in SoCal. If you guys here in the sun capital of the world are only riding at one track, you need to be hit over the head with a sprocket. You guys from out of state shouldn’t be too discouraged, though.
Consider this your official travel guide on the hot spots to hit when you’re in the neighborhood. There’s a veritable cornucopia of riding opportunities here, and I’m going to take you on a quick tour of them so you know where to go. Hopefully this will get some of you to go forth and venture to a brave new track.
Another perk of riding in the southern half of the sunshine state is that your chances of seeing a Tedesco, Fonseca, McGrath, etc. at one of these tracks is pretty high, especially if you’re out there a lot. With Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki all located within 10-15 miles of the city, there’s no doubt there’s a lot of motocross action out here. And with the major manufacturers comes the aftermarket crowd: Pro Circuit, Precision Concepts, Race Tech, are all here. Not to mention making new friends and experiencing a new scene. So grab a beer, a map and clear your schedule, ’cause we’re going riding!
Glen Helen is best known as the home of an AMA Outdoor National, although is hosts a number of other events as well.
Glen Helen Raceway
18585 Verdemont Ranch Rd
San Bernardino, CA 92407
24-hour Info Line: (909) 880-3090
Home of the Glen Helen National, this track hardly needs an intro. Nevertheless for you non-nationals fans (gasp, is there such a thing?!), Glen Helen is minutes from the legendary Route 66 and is located in the Glen Helen Regional Parks & Recreation Area in Devore, CA. It’s conveniently located about 60 miles from LA, Orange and San Diego Counties.
One major advantage of riding in Southern California is the almost always cooperative weather. Fair weather was on hand for the recent Troy Lee Designs Day in the Dirt Motocross Grand Prix at I-5MX in Gorman, CA.
Glen Helen is a behemoth of a complex, playing host to not only the AMA Nationals, but also the Yamaha AMA California State MX Championship, White Bros. Four-Stroke & World Vet Championships, Yamaha MX Dealer Series, Loretta Lynn MX Qualifier and a bevy of other series and races. With their Grand Prix, newly designed PeeWee, AMA National MX and MX REM/Vintage tracks, they really have your bases covered on the MX side of things. On top of that they have a StadiumCross and Husqvarna Supercross Tracks for practice and events. For you Outdoor fans though, the AMA National MX track is where it’s at. The table-tops, doubles and gnarly uphills are some of the most vaunted in the series (not to mention the varying sandy and hard-pack surface), they don’t get that rep cause they’re easy.
Glen Helen has put a lot of money back into their facility in order to make it one of the most enjoyable places to race and/or just sit back and enjoy the smell of race gas in the morning. Thursdays and Saturdays are the scheduled days for practice. For all the PeeWee riders out there, Glen Helen Raceway has created a newly designed PeeWee Track to practice on. Gates open at 8 am. Practice may vary due to special or multi-day events. Cost is $20 per motorcycle, spectators are free and it should be noted that they no longer have Tuesday practice.
I-5MX plays host to a variety of MX schools, making it a good destination for the developing rider to hone in his or her skills.
I-5MX in Gorman, CA is the new home of Troy Lee Designs a Day in the Dirt Motocross Grand Prix. I-5MX has also recently undergone some refreshing changes with a new uphill/downhill section.
There are 3 tracks currently in place. The Main track is 1.2 miles long and harbors a mix of natural terrain and man-made obstacles. It’s a great blend of speed and technical riding. There’s a mini track that’s separate from the rest and is groomed daily. The last track is a newly designed PeeWee track made especially for the little guys.
The I-5MX provides three tracks, including a 1.2-mile Main track, a mini track, and a PeeWee track for the little riders out there.
New hours of Operation at I-5MX are 9:00am to Dusk on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. Practice day gate fees are $20 per bike (including Minis & PeeWees, spectators are free), and on race day it’s $10 per person. It should be noted that all gate fees are cash only, so don’t bring your black American Express, hot shot.
Also for you up and comers, I-5MX offers a variety of MX Schools at varying price points and experience levels. I wholeheartedly endorse any of you newbies, thinking about going out on a track for your first time (or amateurs, and even you old-school vets) to look at these schools. It never hurts to get outside instruction on riding and it can be pretty dangerous if you’ve never been out there.
Located on the south side of Lake Elsinore, the spacious Lake Elsinore Motocross Park boast nine tracks total and is a popular spot for locals as well as visitors to turn some laps.
Considered by many as the “Gasoline Alley” of motocross, Lake Elsinore Motocross Park has a plethora of tracks to please everyone in your riding posse. Elsinore boasts a total of 9 tracks ranging from their Main track to their 50cc PeeWee track and even a separate Quad track for you four-wheel nuts out there, plus all are professionally groomed every day. And with as many as 25 percent of the 10,000 or so riders who visit the track each month being from outside Southern California, many of them from Europe and other parts of the world, you travelers are a welcomed and normal sight.
With nine tracks to choose from, chances are Lake Elsinore has a track to suit your needs, including the Main which boasts some massive jumps.
LEMP is open 7 days a week, practice runs 9am to dusk, and the cost is $20 a bike (seeing a standard here yet?). LEMP is located on the south side of Lake Elsinore. Take the I-15 to Bundy Canyon, make a right, head to Mission Trail and another right. From there you take a left on Corydon and look for your MX fun on the right-hand side.
You never know who you’ll run into at the MX tracks in SoCal. You might even roost a crew of MCUSA riders in town from Southern Oregon, although our ringer, AMA Supermoto pro Steve Drew (shown at Lake Elsinore during our 2006 250F MX Shootout), will wax you for sure.
AVMotoplex has been around for a while, although it hasn’t always been regarded as one of the top tracks in southern California, it recently has undergone a midlife-crisis, face-lift-boob-job-wow-you-look-good-again procedure.
The owners of AVMotoplex realized that in order to be competitive with their neighbors I-5MX and LACR, they needed to vastly improve their offering. And vastly improve they have, so much so that they guarantee you enjoy your ride there or your money back. Not only is that stupendous, that’s unheard of in this business.
If you’ve never been there before, or left a long time ago because of the crap conditions, you really need to give it another chance. Seriously, what do you have to lose? Have a bad ride or get beat by a 14-year-old girl and you can not only blame it on the conditions but you can even complain and get your money back!
The main track has been extended to now harbor 1300 linear feet of track. They have brought in over 10,000 tons of prime USDA approved dirt and another 15,000 tons of sand. This extra space and materials have allowed them to vastly improve the ride with more berms, better obstacles and wider lanes for some high speed fun.
As of October 15th, 2005 there is also a completely separate peewee track for 50s and beginners, complete with berms, jumps, and various other obstacles that will surely have your kids glued to the track for hours.
They also have one of the most ingenious ways of watering the track, and I hope more tracks pick up on this method. With a water truck the water is never evenly distributed, as it puddles in the inside berms and leaves the high spots dry. At LACR and I-5MX, the track is closed for 20 minutes while they water. When the track opens it’s a swampy mess for the first 20 minutes, good for the next 15 and then dusty for the last 20 before they close it again to water.
At AVMotoplex, hoses are used to water and the track is always open. If the watering is any less than perfect it is a result of human error. Another problem with closing the track to water is that 95% of the riders get back on the track as soon as it opens causing dangerous congestion. At AVMotoplex the track is always open and therefore only 60% of the riders in the facility are on the track at one time. Good stuff, go check it out.
The compact and vertical nature of the StarWest track, located just off the I-215 Freeway, gives it a more Supercross feel.
StarWest is another popular track in the area, located at the Perris Fairgrounds. Off the 215 Freeway, it is easily accessible to many of the top riders in the sport and centrally located to a lot of companies in the industry. It’s a fast paced, technical track that has a certain Supercross feel to it. The main track has tables, doubles, one huge triple, big berms and rollers. It’s basically got everything you could want in a tight, fast track.
The facilities are top-notch as well: full lighting, a bike wash area, bathrooms, grandstands, and the ever important snack bar is open at night. So your friends and family can come and be comfortable while they watch you case the triple and bork your bike across the rollers. If you like the Supercross tracks and want to try something slightly more technical, give StarWest a visit. It won’t disappoint.
One of the draws at StarWest, aside from its convenient location, are the top notch facilities, which include a grandstands area to view the track action.
Competitive Edge is a newcomer to the motocross scene. However, new as they may be, they have potential to really nail it. Located in the high desert of Hesperia, Ca, Competitive Edge is nearing a grand opening and its portfolio of tracks looks to have something for just about any rider.
The main track at Competitive Edge is dubbed the National Track and is quite a monster. Spanning a large portion of the facilities 77 acres, it’s got a mixture of riding terrain: a sandy clay surface, rolling, sweeping hills, and some natural terrain to boot. The largest jumps cater to both pros as well as amateurs as they are some huge table-tops. The creators attempted recreate their favorite bits and pieces of tracks all over the world, and with this they’ve created quite a fun track; off-camber corners, a rhythm section that would challenge Ray Charles, and some other interesting sections.
By the time you read this, the kid’s track, adult mini track, vet/quad combination track, and a private Supercross track that will be used exclusively by licensed AMA pros should all be completed. On top of this they already have a safety training course setup for the quad patrons.
Honestly, you could write a book on all the tracks in SoCal and their many attributes. The tracks above are undoubtedly not the only tracks you should patron, but they are definitely some of the more refined and visited tracks in the area. For those of you coming from out of the area, you should definitely visit some of these if you get the chance. You’d be privy to some of the best tracks in the world, as well as in the company of some of the best riders in the world.
So go forth, brave rider! Get out there and discover new tracks, new riding terrain and new friends. Hopefully I’ll see some new faces out at the races this weekend!
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