What Takes 6000 Cubic Yards Of Dirt?

What goes into making a championship Supercross Track?

Rich Winkler loves dirt. 6000 cubic yards of it will be his playground this weekend at Skydome for the THQ World Supercross GP. It’s the first time a Supercross event of this caliber has come to Toronto and as the first stop of the championship it’s bound to be a exciting event.

Supercross has a cult following, with venues such as Anaheim California selling out quickly. For the fans of all ages it is best described as a motorcycle race in a phone booth…NASCAR – with jumps …or a high wire act involving gas, gravity and daring young men. Winkler isn’t racing his dirt bike, instead he’s key in others being able to, he is the premier track builder, and dirt is his treasure.

His job will be to transform a mountain of the stuff into a technically challenging, serpentine track that will wow both the crowds and the riders. Before his company Dirt Wurx, was in existence Supercross tracks were built by a handful of companies, most being local contractors where quality and cost were never guaranteed. He has changed all that.

First thing on the agenda is sending a “dirt scout” to the venue to find the right style of soil. Too soft and the track will deteriorate and too hard the riders will lose traction. It’s a perfect mixture that binds easily enough to create a series of hills in different sizes and shapes. The dirt is cheap as most construction sites are happy to give it away but the cost is in the delivery of more than 300 dump trucks full.

The dirt is then sifted through a special machine that removes rocks and debris. If left in the soil it could seriously hurt the riders as their powerful dirt bikes kick it up. It’s then molded to provide the highest jumps right next to the crowd for entertainment and the highest hill at the finish line. Other sections included are a washboard of smaller bumps and a rhythm section that has different style hills. There are triple jumps and table tops and so much more that each and every track is designed fresh year to year.

Winkler’ biggest challenge is just that – keeping the track’s design fresh, entertaining yet allowing for some great competition. He shies away from using computer programs as they are only as good as the information put in them. Many stadiums do not have exact blue prints that are workable so Winkler relies on his experience and some creativity thrown in. With thirty live events a year he is certainly busy.

“When riders go into the main event and they are convinced one way is best thru a course and it will be a boring race”. Winkler says. Keeping them safe but on their toes is essential. Skydome is the largest stadium Winkler has worked with. If the dirt was spread out it would cover the floor about one foot deep.

After the final race is run and the sixteen hour clean up is finished, the dirt will be stockpiled for next year and after a few days of long hours of moving dirt, Winkler is off to his next event.

Eighty riders will be racing in the 250cc and 125 cc events combined. Todd Jendro, director of Operations for Supercross is excited about this weekend. It’s one of the first times such stars as Ricky Carmicheal and Travis Pastrana are racing together on Canadian soil. Or should I say.Canadian dirt.

For more information on the THQ World Supercross GP, brought to you by Clear Channel – log on to www.supercross.cc.com

Nika

Nika

Nika has had a love for cars and racing since childhood. A regional racing license holder she has been involved with the industry, working with racers, teams, journalists and automobile manufacturers in sponsorship solicitation, logistics, hospitality, road show and communication program implementation.