The wrong way is now the right way at the motocross track at Twin Cities Raceway.
Saturday, the Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions - Motocross Division hosted the first state motocross and quad racing series event since reversing the direction of the track at the start of this season.
State series racing will continue today at 10 a.m. at Twin Cities Raceway.
When Renie Aragon became president of the Motocross Division this year, she said she wanted to do some things to freshen up the course for the riders. In April, the Motocross Division decided to run the races backward.
“Our track has been the same for years,” Aragon said. “There’s never been changes to it at all. This was a chance to give excitement to the riders.”
The current track at Twin Cities Raceway was built in 2002 after racing was moved from the Soldotna airport following the 1999 season.
Aragon said track director Brian Engen and his crew put in eight- to 12-hour days for about a week to make the changes at the track. A few jumps had to be taken out, and some corners had to be redone to make sure all banking went in the right direction.
While a lot of hours were spent on the project, it actually was an efficient way to give the track a new look. Aragon said a similar amount of time is spent getting the track ready each year.
In addition to Saturday’s state races, the track has already been used for a pair of city races. Aragon said the reviews so far have been positive.
“They loved it,” Aragon said. “They’re excited for something new. It presents a few challenges for some of the young riders. The track mostly banked to the left, now it mostly banks to the right.”
The new track also makes for faster racing. Aragon said last year 125 cc Expert lap times were around 1:30 or 1:40. Aragon’s son, Zac, has turned a 1:24 on the new course.
Renie Aragon said the faster times are probably due to removing some of the technical, tight portions of the course and widening it up a little bit.
Zac Aragon, 19, found out one of the disadvantages of the wider course in the first 125 Expert race on Saturday. He had led the race for three laps and was battling for the lead when he fell.
“The whole pack went past me really fast,” Aragon said. “You make one little mistake out there and it’s all over.”
Aragon said jokingly that he doesn’t like the new direction at the track because it’s bad luck to go backwards, but, turning serious, he said change is good.
“Nothing changed for so long and we’d come out here and practice and race all the time,” Aragon said. “I just got bored with it.”
Robert Graeber, 15, of Willow rides in the 250 Expert and Pro classes. He said the new direction at the track was refreshing. He also said that the change didn’t put out-of-town riders at a disadvantage because good riders can learn a track in a hurry.
Anchorage’s Aaron Loyer won the first 125 Expert race of the day, with 18-year-old Soldotna resident Cory Davis taking second. Both ride for the AK Sleds and Cycle/Anchorage Yamaha team.
“Aaron rides in the Lower 48 a lot, so he was able to catch onto the new track pretty quickly,” Davis said.
Kurt Hendrickson of AMA Dirtworks spent two days this week working on the track, getting it into even better shape.
“He did a really good job grooming the track,” Davis said. “He had a chance to elaborate on some of the jumps.”
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