The landscape overlooking the Drumheller valley has seen a dramatic change especially for motocross riders.
The signature finish line on the motocross track at the top of the South Hill, which stood for more than 20 years where bikers flew across to claim the checkered flag, has been removed. While it was a recognizable landmark to many, the change excites members of Drumheller Off Road Vehicle Association (DORVA).
The jump’s absence is a sign of progress as DORVA prepares to host races this summer on August 7 and 8.
It has been about five years since the track hosted a race. The club expects 400-500 entries for the event. On top of that, there will be 300-400 spectators.
“We’re hosting Round 1 of the fall series,” said race director Casey Christensen. “It is one of the seven rounds, and all seven are points races for the Southern Alberta Championship.
The Alberta Dirt Riders Association sanctions the race.
He said while there is a big crowd of racers and spectators coming to the event, expect to see some local riders from the club competing at the event.
To prepare for the, event Christensen said they have done extensive repairs and renovations to the track to make it race ready and safer.
“We’ve done a redesign and rebuild of the track to incorporate a bunch of safety standards and new jumps,” he said, adding the direction of travel has been reversed.
The race is a signal of a dramatic turn around for the club, which clawed its way from impending doom to vibrancy.
“Things are really opening up with the club, it’s been great,” said Christensen. We are looking at having in the area of 90 members. We are starting to get recognized around Alberta.”
Along with the renovations to the main track, they opened a peewee and intermediate track, and installed a playground.
“They (the tracks) have all been redesigned, rebuilt and refaced,” said Christensen. “They incorporate all kinds of different challenges for all different riders.”
He explains the safety is built into the track and designers and builders pay attention to blind jumps near corners, and pinch points coming out of the curves.
“On the volunteer side we have a strong core of volunteers, things are happening,” he said, adding they have received strong support from businesses in the community through sponsorship.
Christensen explained the moto-crossing image of breaking bones at breakneck speeds has changed a lot in the last few years. The sport is now more family oriented. The race format has also changed. Rather than pulling bikes off a truck and hitting the track, families roll in on Friday to set up camp. Saturday is designated as a practice day to learn the track and gain experience, and Sunday is race day.
Christensen said volunteers are always welcome, and those wanting to get involved in the race or in joining up with DORVA contact Christensen at 403-820-1574.