Motocross hits rodeo arena
Brian Leonard, 15, from Gallup, practiced jumping his motorcycle Sunday afternoon on the Arena Cross track at the Curry County Fairgrounds. He competed in the 1-5 Novice Open Sunday evening. Photo by Mike Linn.
Gentlemen, start your engines.
In the last three days, the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena has been transformed from a rodeo arena into an obstacle course — a series of man-made dirt hills lined with hay bales and jumps ready for motocross racing and breathtaking aerial spectacles.
At 7:30 p.m. today, fans of off-road motorcycle and All-Terrain-Vehicle racing — billed as Arenacross — will have a chance to watch the fast-paced action on the first night of this year’s Curry County Fair.
The action began Sunday, as riders and their families gathered at the fairgrounds for practice runs, Round One racing and visiting with one another prior to the big finals event tonight.
Tod Hammock of Tulsa, Okla.-based Cycle City Promotions, said he expects the second year for Arenacross at the Curry County Fair, as part of the Texas-New Mexico High Plains Series, to be even better than last year.
“We’ll probably have over 200 entries and 2,000 spectators,” Hammock said. “Last year it went really good. We were very pleased and we’re glad to be back here. It will be a great show (tonight).”
For people who haven’t experienced a motocross event, organizers promise lively fun and awe-inspiring stunts by professionals and amateurs.
“With motocross, you have off-road motorcycles on a closed course hitting jumps and flying 70 feet in the air and then navigating tight turns,” Hammock said. “There will be a lot of freestyling and some really cool tricks, with a lot of bar-slamming, side-by-side action. We’ll be racing four-wheelers, as well.”
The riders range in age from four to more than 40, with competitors coming to Curry County from all over the Southwest, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas and other parts of New Mexico, he said.
“We get a lot of people, who are loyal to the race series, who follow it,” Hammock said. “This particular High Plains Series is an end-of-the-summer series that will finish in September at the Tri-State Fair in Amarillo.”
Alan Brewster, 29, and his buddy Jonathan Press, 28, came to Curry County from nearby Borger, Texas, with their wives and families to ride in the Arenacross.
“I rode all my life but I never rode motocross until Jonathan started about a year and a half ago,” Brewster said. “I like these events because you meet a lot of neat people.”
Brewster’s wife Stacy takes some of the credit for encouraging him to take up and continue the sport.
“I love to watch him ride,” Stacy Brewster said. “We have a motocross track across the street from us at home that he built. I’m always asking them to go ride so I can make videos of it. We travel around to these events in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.”
Stetson Reeves, 11, of Borger gets an excited gleam in his eye when he talks about how he looks forward to racing someday.
“I ride, but I don’t race yet,” Reeves said.
Jaimen Thomas, 6, of Hobbs was suited up in his gold, black and white racing gear and black boots as he practiced at the Curry County Fairgrounds Sunday. Apparently, he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t riding.
“I’ve been doing this for about six years,” he said. “My Dad helps me, but my Dad doesn’t ride. I just like racing dirt bikes and all that stuff.”
Rain or shine, the action will take place tonight, Hammock promised.
“The stands are covered, so weather is not going to be a problem,” he said.
Admission, which includes entry to the Curry County Fair on Monday night, is $12 for teen-agers and adults and $8 for children ages 3-12. Children under 3 will be admitted free.
Advance tickets for $2 less also will be available today at Clovis Cycle and RV Sales at 400 E. First St.