CLOVERDALE — It was, in most every way, a family affair.
There was, of course, the “family” of riders. Young and old, everyone seemed to know – and feel a kinship with – their peers. That’s to be expected in a group that shares such a deep, mutual passion for the same pastime.
But in a far more literal sense, there was “real” family.
Everywhere you went on the night motocross racing finally returned to Cloverdale’s Stetson Bowl, you could see it. Over there was a grandpa and grandson. Right next to them was a mom and her kid. And all over the place were dads and sons – and a few daughters.
Apparently, there’s something about this dirt bike stuff that brings generations together.
Take Greg Williamson and his grandson Cody Oliver. I spotted them between races as Grandpa Greg gave last-minute pointers to Cody just outside the tent they’d put up a few hours earlier.
“My wife got us involved,” said Williamson. “She took Cody to a race in Chilliwack and asked if it was something he’d like to do. He came home excited, so we got him a bike he never rode before, threw him on it, and he seemed to like it.
“He raced his first season – in (indoor) Arenacross – just when he turned eight. About halfway through, we moved him onto a race bike and he finished third overall in points. He’s never looked back.”
Cody’s now 10 and his racing has taken the family all over B.C., including races in Kamloops, Williams Lake, and Mission. And that suits Williamson to a tee. The guy’s owned and ridden motorcycles all his life.
But isn’t an eight-year-old a bit young for his first dirt bike? Not according to Williamson.
“He’s had some crashes, but never anything where he hasn’t been able to get right back on and ride,” he said, adding that quality gear and a strong support system are the keys to safe riding.
The night was a significant one for local and regional dirt bike racers. It marked the very first racing night of what promoter Future West Moto has billed “Stetson Summer,” a series of Tuesday night races at the Stetson Bowl that runs through to the end of July.
Tuesday-evening races will be augmented by Saturday daytime practices at the outdoor bowl, which last saw motocross action in the 1990s.
It didn’t come a moment too soon – the motocross crowd has been feeling somewhat displaced since a similar weeknight deal ended a few years ago in Mission.
Nordina Newton handles marketing for Future West Moto. She was playing the part of announcer this night, up in the booth above the grandstand.
“We’ve been trying to get this going for a few years,” she said. “So we went into partnership with the Fairgrounds to bring the Tuesday night racing back.
“We’re all really excited. The Fairgrounds people have been amazing. The riders are super stoked. The whole thing is to get seat time, and that’s what this does.”
But it wasn’t without its challenges. How, for example, would an ample supply of good dirt suddenly materialize in the Stetson Bowl? As it turns out, through the good graces of a man named Norm Svennson.
Svennson runs a company called Pacific Coast Excavating. And his son is a motocross rider. You get the connection.
“It took about three days,” says Svennson. “We hauled dirt from the back side of the Agriplex using a couple of dump trucks.”
Svennson estimates they brought in about 350 dump trucks loads, or 3,000 cubic metres of dirt. And then they went to work shaping the track and building the bumps and jumps that now dot it from end to end. Svennson will move all the dirt back when the “season” has ended.
Svennson said there’s a definite sense of deja vu.
“We built the track here 18 years ago (when the Stetson Bowl last hosted motocross). “This is kind of nostalgic to see another track here today.”
Lee Coutts, a veteran presence in the motocross scene, praised the track.
“This was a huge undertaking for these guys to do this, and I want to thank them for doing it.”
For more info on being a spectator or participant, visit futurewestmoto.ca.