Dirt Track Competition in Tacoma

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Dirt Track Competition in Tacoma

Hayden Cleans the Clocks

Tommy Hayden cleaned the clocks at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday night, September 21st. The young dirt track racer was flanked by numerous seasoned veterans including Joe Kopp, Mickey Fay, Rich King and Terry Poovey.

Sponsored by Eastside Motosports in Bellevue, Hayden (left and above) got his hands on the dealership’s first new Yamaha YZ450F, dolled it up for the TT and rode the Tacoma track as if it were his backyard.

To say Hayden is fast is being mild. Just how fast is he? During the 25 lap main event, Hayden managed to lap nearly every other rider on the course including Kopp and Poovey. Hayden’s younger brother, Roger, finished 3rd and Brett Landes came in 2nd place.

Mickey Fay made his return to pro dirt track racing on a Honda CRF450R made possible by a sponsorship through RMC Motorsports. Fans were thrilled to see the retired rider return to the track in his hometown of Tacoma.  He completed the main event in 6th place. Fay’s son, Marty, participated in Sunday’s amateur events sporting his dad’s #6 plate on a Honda as well.

Above/Right:  Mickey Fay glides through turn one during the semi event on a Honda CRF450R.

It's interesting to note how this sport is changing.   The writing was on the wall when Joe Kopp won the Seattle Mile in 2000 on a Suzuki. In recent years  we are seeing less and less riders on Harleys. Only three Harley riders (utilizing Rotax motors) made it into the qualifying heats, and by the main event all were gone. The sport is showing serious change leaning toward the technology that abounds from mainly Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki.  Honda claimed 10 of the 15 spots in Saturday's main event.

Attendance at the event was fewer than one would hope. A crowd of just a few thousand turned out. $30 ticket prices and $10 parking rates put the shutters on what should have been a great turnout. It was apparent that while  this event has shifted from Agajanian to Clear Channel less connections into the clubs and dealers are resulting in a lighter turnout.  

Another lesson here is that because the brands on the track are changing, so is the fan base. More attention to the Japanese franchise dealers, and less effort aimed at the Harley market may be good medicine for filling the grand stands in the future.  Clear Channel has its work cut out next year should they return to Washington. 

The number of people entering to race rose significantly over past years. More than 100 riders entered for the pro series and Clear Channel expertly slammed an 80cc class into Saturday night’s events that gave the crowd a taste of what pee wee racing is all about. It’s infectious and the youngsters rode like pros. In fact some rode so well at times it was hard to tell if you were watching a group of kids, or a pack of pros.  

Above/Left:  Lauren Wallace snaps out of turn five during 80cc competition.

One benefit to using the Tacoma Dome this year over Emerald Downs which had hosted the Seattle Mile the last three years, is that on Sunday a plethora of amateur classes were able to utilize the track for two wheel and quad competition and hundreds of riders participated.

Mo Di Ro is a state event that now draws more participants than spectators. We’d hate to see a national dirt track event like this wind up the same way. Watching a rider like Tommy Hayden take over a five turn TT track is as exciting as seeing the legends like Chris Carr, Jay Springsteen and others in years past. Whatever make they're riding, the thrill is too good to miss. Get out there watch it!

PT/Fall 02

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