Together is better. That was the overriding message Friday night in a Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions event at Twin Cities Raceway.
"It was a good night for us," said Chet Soares, the president of the Racing Lions Circle Track Division. "We had twice the normal people we normally have out there tonight.
"Including the motocross, we had three times the number of people we normally have."
The key phrase there is "including the motocross." This winter, racing on the central Kenai Peninsula underwent a face-lift.
The circle-track racers joined the Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions, thus combining forces with the Racing Lions Motocross Division and Drag-Racing Division.
The combination also means that Twin Cities Raceway, which had always been used by the circle-track racers, now also is used for motocross. The Racing Lions also plan to build a drag strip at Twin Cities Raceway in the next couple of years.
The circle-track racers had already had two events this year, but Friday was the first time the Racing Lions had two different events on the same night. The price for admission -- $7 for adults -- was not changed even though there were two events.
The result was a larger than usual turnout for both the circle-track races and the motocross races.
Debbie Burman, the president of the Racing Lions Motocross Division, has been involved in area motocross for about eight years. She said Friday was the largest turnout for a city motocross race ever, except possibly for opening night at the old course at the Soldotna Municipal Airport.
"This is awesome," said Katie Crane, the secretary for the Motocross Division. "This is a reward for all of the work we've done.
Riders are undeterred as they wait to start their race while medics remove Calder Hillyer from the course following an accident.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
"Our overall goal is to get the community involved, and to put a show on they want to watch. With all three types of racing working together, it's just so much simpler now."
Part of the hard work Crane was referring to was the construction of a motocross track at the Twin Cities Raceway grounds. For the past three years, motocross had used a course at the Soldotna Municipal Airport.
Most of the credit for building the course at Twin Cities Raceway goes to Rick Bailey, who spent four nonstop days on the construction.
Vince DeVane, a former factory rider with Suzuki who is visiting Alaska to ride and give clinics, said Bailey's effort paid off.
"I like it," DeVane said of the course. "It's very good, and I can only see it getting better."
Ricky Bailey, Rick Bailey's son and a rider in the 125 Expert class, also likes the new course.
"This track is a lot better for spectators than the Soldotna track," said Bailey, a 15-year-old from Kenai who won the 125 Expert class Friday. "It's also better dust-wise. I definitely like being out here better."
Rick Bailey also said he likes the course because it feels like a more permanent home.
"It does feel more comfortable here," Bailey said. "I never really felt comfortable dealing with the city of Soldotna."
Bailey also likes the larger support network available now that racers have joined forces.
"We'd always have 100 people interested in something, but when it came time to do the work two or three would show up," Bailey said. "Now that we're all together, that's awesome.
"They'll help us, and we'll help them."
Elton McGahn (74) leads Randy Barnes and Jackie McGahn through a turn Friday at Twin City Raceway.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
There was one scary part of the evening Friday when Calder Hillyer, racing 125 Intermediate, crashed in a race. Hillyer had to be taken away in an ambulance. Hillyer's mother, Grace Ann, said Saturday that Calder had dislocated his hip, but didn't break a bone in his body.
"There isn't a scratch on his body," Grace Ann said. "He'll be fine. The protective gear did a good job."
The circle-track racers already had their track built at Twin Cities Raceway, but they were equally optimistic about the change in the structure of area racing.
"We've basically just been surviving the last 10 years or so, trying to make it go," said Mike Young, the vice president of the Racing Lions Circle Track Division. "Now that we're all together and not stepping on toes, we can try and advance instead of just trying to hold our ground."
The circle-track racers entertained fans with several rousing moments Friday.
In Late Model racing, Don Patroze got out of control in Turn 2. He smacked into some water barrels, and besides being wet, he was fine.
In Sprint Car racing, Camron McGahan broke the front axle, rear axle and bent his frame when he crashed into his father, Jackie. However, some quick teamwork in the pits had Camron back out on the course in about 20 minutes.
Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions at Twin Cities Raceway
Circle Track Division
Total points from Friday
A-Stock -- 1. Art Anderson, No. 33; 2. Don Akers, No. 15; 3. Michael Bashard, No. 5; 4. Rex and Jack Savely, No. 78.
B-Stock -- 1. Bert Nelson, No. 4; 2. Richard McGahan, No. 5; 3. William Bashard, No. 50.
Late Model -- 1. Mike Young, No. 33; 2. Don Patroze, No. 66; 3. Frank Soares, No. 2.
Sprints -- 1. Elton McGahan, No. 74; 2. Jackie McGahan, No. 77; 3. Randy Barnes, No. 23; 4. Camron McGahan, No. 33.
Combined results of Friday's races
50 Class -- 1. Bruce Hudson, No. 448, Yamaha; 2. Harley Hill, Yamaha.
80 Expert -- 1. Cory Davis, No. 1, Suzuki; 2. Richie Hennagin, No. 106, Yamaha.
80 Intermediate -- 1. Marshall West, No. 30, Yamaha.
80 Novice -- 1. Shane Ashley, No. 176, Kawasaki; 2. Justin Krigbaum, No. 640, Honda; 3. Matthew Sutherland, No. 589, Suzuki.
125 Expert -- 1. Ricky Bailey, No. 90, Yamaha; 2. Vince DeVane, No. 90V, Yamaha; 3. Mike Egholm, No. 228, KTM.
125 Intermediate -- 1. Cory Davis, No. 164, Suzuki; 2. Jesse Kelly, No. 414, Honda; 3. Ryan Edmunds, No. 202, Yamaha; 4. Calder Hillyer, No. 204, Yamaha.
125 Novice -- 1. Lance Thornton, No. 214, Yamaha; 2. Robert Graber, No. 84, Yamaha; 3. Richie Hennagin, No. 106, Suzuki; 4. Samantha Jones, No. 90, Yamaha; 5. Sarah Herrin, No. 1, Kawasaki.
125 Veteran -- 1. Jonathon Thorton, No. 216, Yamaha.
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