By STEVE DYE
At 9 a.m. this morning the gates opened at Jack Blevins Motocross Park, with first dozens of vendors and then hundreds of motorhomes and funhaulers rolling into the pit and camping areas for what may be Ponca City’s biggest motocross race ever.
Now, those may be bold words to those who remember the halcyon days of the NMA National Amatuer Motocross Championships in the 1980s, when the largest amatuer motorcycle event in the country was held every July in Ponca.
But the Ponca City nationals had, for myriad reasons, long been eclipsed by a similar event held each August in Tennessee.
Going into the third year of a partnership between the Ponca City AMBUCS and promoter Harold Martin of MotoPlayground magazine, the MotoPlayground Race held the third weekend of October has already climbedthe ladder to a top-tier event for the fastest up-and-coming racers in the nation.
The first-ever MotoPlayground Race was held in Ponca City in 2016, hashtagged “Make Ponca Great Again.”
It just two short years, and on the eve of the third event, the event has done just that.
Ponca City is back on the map for top-level amateur motocross racers from all across the country, and hotels, restaurants, and stores will see a big influx of customers and cash this weekend with literally thousands of racers accompanied by support staff, mechanics, vendors, and lots and lots of moms and dads.
“The MotoPlayground Race at Ponca City is so much more than just another dirtbike race,” says Martin. “When we first approached the industry with our intentions of creating an event that truly put riders and familiesfirst, we realized very quickly we should not tell everyone how good it would be, we should show them. And that is exactly what we’ve done. We continue to strive to create something special that is more than just another race. We continue to under promise, over deliver, and never take advantage of the purity of what we are creating.”
Move-in for vendors and campers will continue today, with a full day of practice and race course familiarization set for Thursday before racing begins on Friday. Gates will open at 6 a.m. to spectators, with practicing beginning at approximately 8:30 a.m. and races beginning at 10 a.m. and running throughout the day each day through Sunday.
Classes range all the way from miniscule 51cc machines piloted by 4-6 year olds up to professional level racers on60-horsepower 450cc machines. Many of the top amateur racers in the country are confirmed for the event.
On Friday night some of those top racers will team with locals who benefit from AMBUCS efforts at the Ponca City YMCA at 7 p.m. to take part in the AmTRYKE race.
Saturday night will also feature a hilarity laced minibike race for big kids — the “World National Pit Bike Championship” — that is pure comedy and not to be missed at 8 p.m. on a specially constructed smaller course adjacent to the park entrance.
“We’re looking forward to maybe the largest turnout we’ve ever had for this year’s event,” said Bill Stuever of the Ponca City AMBUCS. “The rapid growth of this event has been very gratifying for everyone with AMBUCS, and we’re hoping to have manyfrom Ponca City and surrounding communities come out to see what we’re building here.”
World AmTryke Championships
The Ponca City World Championship AmTryke event will be held Friday, Oct. 19, at 7 p.m. at the Ponca City Aquatics and Family Center-YMCA. In a fierce battle against the clock and each other, athletes breakaway from the motocross track and convene to help local AmTryke racers circumnavigate a course laid out on a gym-floor. The event is organized and sponsored by the MotoPlayground magazine and the MotoPlayground Race in conjunction with the AMBUCS, and with top racers volunteering to make it a memorable event.
Proceeds from the races held at Jack Blevins Motocross Park go towards providing therapeutic adaptive tricycles to amazing people who can benefit from the added mobility. The community is encouraged to attend, and cheer onthese local athletes.
World National Pit Bike Race
On Saturday night after the serious races take place on the big track, serious frivolity and mayhem will ensue at the “World National Pit Bike Race” on a much smaller, tighter track located just to the west of the park entrance.
Little bikes line up, but the racers are allegedly grown men, along with mothers, sisters, and other family members and support staff. With thumping background music as a soundtrack, the bar-banging action under the lights is a pit party and laugh-a-minute spectacle onto itself.
The “World National” mini races will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, and are worth the price of admission alone.
For more information on the fine work accomplished by the AMBUCS organization with AmTryke Therapeutic Tricycles, visit okcambucs.com/Community_Support.html#AmTryke®.