PMS Treatment 2 of 3...
PMS Treatment 2 of 3:
Still desperate for activities to take my mind off the fact that I can't ride my streetbike right now, Jean-Luc and I headed over to the Toledo Sports Arena this past Sunday to attend the local Arenacross, ie, indoor motorcross, normally called Supercross.
Well, actuallyÔÇª there's a big difference between Supercross and Arenacross: size. Supercross is an indoor motorcross track laid out on an indoor football field, while Arenacross is indoor motorcross laid out on a hockey rink. That's a big size differenceÔÇª.6360 square yards for a football field, versus 1700 square feet for a hockey rink.
I haven't been to a motocross race since the first single-shock Yamahas were new back in the mid-1970s, and that was outside. I've only read about indoor events. Jean-Luc has never been to a motocross race, though he has ridden a dirtbike at the Honda training center in Troy, Ohio. I was kind of excited about seeing the race, though Jean-Luc's reaction when I suggested it was just lukewarm at best.
Our Sports Arena is kind of old and run down. It's been like that as long as I can rememberÔÇª Located on the East Side of Toledo near Waite High School and Tony Packo's restaurant, there's been a lot of talk about replacing it soon. But that talk's been going on for at least 10 years, so I don't think it's going to happen in the near future. As we bought our tickets at the door, we could hear the two-stroke engines at high revs, just buzzing and buzzingÔÇª. Then we entered the area under the stands (sit anywhere you want, we were told..), and climbed the stairs to take our seats.
Halfway up the stairs and Jean-Luc simply stopped; slack-jawed and grinning and staring. Racers were coming off a jump in the middle of the track in front of us, fast, attaining heights of perhaps 20', and from our viewpoint it looked as though they could almost touch the rafters at apogee. They couldn't, but that was what it looked like to usÔÇª
Then we found some seats, about as far up in the stands as we could go. Not that we wanted to be that far away from the action, but there was a lot of noise echoing around in that small arenaÔÇª. And like the attendant said, we could sit anywhere we wanted - the stands were maybe 25% filled.
The racing on Sunday was mostly local fast-guys, a few racers from out of state, racing for some minimal amount of prize money. Nobody you've ever heard of, but that's OK. Classes were 50cc, 80cc, 125cc, and then 250cc was effectively the Open class. The 250cc four-strokes raced against the 125cc two-strokes, and the larger displacement four-strokes raced against the 250cc two-strokes.
I explained the basics to Jean-Luc: this is a race. The back row over there is a dragrace to the first corner when the starting gate falls, the guys that can clear the big jump are going much faster and are passing a bunch of people, the yellow flag means maintain your present position due to a problem on the track, and the checkered flag means the race is over, and that the best racing isn't when one racer is way ahead, but when 2-3 racers are way ahead and they all want to be first. This was all explained by yelling in his ear; I really should have brought the earplugs. Then we settled in to watch the showÔÇª.
The track itself was laid out like a horseshoe. Down the first straight, which was smooth, then a sweeping turn exactly the width of a hockey rink. Then down the opposite side to the other end of the rink, bouncing through the whoops. A tight U-turn into the infield, then a berm and a tight turn to shoot up a ramp that was maybe 45 degrees and 10' high. Up into the air, land almost back at the starting gate, brake hard, turn, and you've completed one lap. Didn't take very long, eitherÔÇª
The kids on the 80s were the most fun to watch. No, they weren't slow. On the contrary, at least one of the 80cc riders was very, very fast and smooth; going just as high on the big jump as the "adults" on the 125s. Watching him land, his bike used every inch of suspension travel, and the kid's entire body and helmet just slumped down on each impact. Then he was hard on the brakes to make the turn the instant he landedÔÇª.
The kids on the 50s were entertaining too, but in a different way. They were so little that at the start, Jean-Luc asked me if they racing mopeds. No, not hardlyÔÇª The 50s weren't so fast as the 80s, nor were the riders, but the track was actually big to them. The 50s with their little wheels would just about get swallowed in the whoops, and struggle to make it up the big jumpÔÇª. The pack of 50s got so strung out, with a huge difference in skill level and speed.
One kid crashed toward the end of the race, though not one of the leaders. Track workers and his parents put him back on his bike, and after the race ended they pushed him back to the pits. Many in the crowd stood and cheered for the kid. That felt good, and was nice to see. He got more cheers than the winner did.
The noise and pre-mix haze were getting to us a little, so we went under the stands for some refreshments and grabbed a hot dog, drinks, and a couple giant bread soft pretzels. While there, we could hear the rumble of bigger engines holding nearly WOT at the starting gateÔÇª.
When we took our seats again it looked like 125cc two-strokes racing against 250cc four-strokes. You could hear the difference in the exhaust note, though performance seemed similar. Funny thing was they didn't look as fast as the fasted kid on the 80s; it was as if the bigger bikes just didn't have the room to really stretch their legs and get up a good head of steam.
However: the 125cc guys did have more style, doing some showing off while airborne. That was lost on Jean-Luc, he just liked seeing them get airborne.
Since we could sit anywhere, we did, wandering around the stands a bit trying to find the perfect vantage point. We accidentally sat with some of the racers in the racer's section, when Jean-Luc saw the sign one of the racers simply said "I won't say anything if you don'tÔÇª" So we had fun talking with the racers (I'm pretty sure one was even old enough to drive), asking about the different classes and where they were from and such.
Then we tried new seats again, and watched a few more starts. Happily, I ran out of film about the same time that the pre-mix and the noise started to get to us, and about the same time that Jean-Luc was getting tired and a little bored. We exited the arena (felt like jumping into fresh water, to be out of the noise), and headed home.
A pretty cool introduction to motocross for Jean-Luc, in my opinion. Jean-Luc got to hang out a bit with the racers when we sat in the wrong seats, we ate junk food, got to yell and scream and take pictures. He can't do any of those things at homeÔÇª.
I think I like these small, low-key sporting events. When everybody is evenly matched the racing can still be good, and fun to watch. And I somehow can't imagine accidentally sitting with the racers at a Supercross or Stadiumcross eventÔÇª
PS: Apologies for the rough photo, there wasn't a lot to work with in the smoke-filled arena, with fences and such holding people back....