by Jim Boyle
ERX Motor Park enters its fourth winter snocross season like a lamb today with its Learn to Ride Snocross Clinic.
It will wrap up in March with the roar of a mighty lion as the all-season motorsports facility located along Highway 169 in Elk River hosts its first Amsoil Championship Snocross Series national snocross race.
Premier competitors like International Series of Champions racers Tucker Hibbert and Levi Lavallee will descend on Elk River as well as another 6,000 to 10,000 race fans. The event is planned for March 9–11.
“We have been proving ourselves and this is what we have been working toward,” said Chris Carlson, the president of Sportech who co-owns the track along with Todd Plaisted, the president of Plaisted Cos. “This is the biggest show in the country.”
Carlson and Plaisted say they have reason to believe it will be one of ISOC’s best venues, starting with its great sight lines for viewers and a community that has embraced the track since its opening.
Because the track is seated in a bowl, spectators will see all of the action of 300-plus competitors. “We think this venue will be a fan favorite and a favorite for racers,” Plaisted said.
Pro snocross racer Tucker Hibbert, who is sponsored by Monster Energy and has won 10 Winter X Games medals, is already excited about the event.
“I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of testing at the track and I am always impressed by the setup and maintenance,” he said. “I imagine it’s going to be even better for the national event in March.”
As Carlson and Plaisted lead two of the most successful Elk River businesses, they are also cultivating a race community that is getting bigger every year.
Snocross combines big-air jumps with exciting competitive race action that is performed on challenging and professionally designed tracks.
Carlson says there are plans in the works to highlight Elk River’s new Powered by Nature marketing strategy to promote the race and Elk River Extreme Motor Sports track.
“We think it fits,” he said.
Among the considerations so far for the actual event weekend are shuttles running to and from the track to help get citizens and other spectators to the action.
ERX biggest events, regional races, have attracted as many as 1,600.
The national event has the potential to draw between 6,000 and 10,000 people with Elk River’s proximity to the Twin Cities and points elsewhere in outstate Minnesota and the Midwest, Carlson and Plaisted say.
It will also be broadcast on television, Carlson added.
Local racers such as Andrew Carlson and Johan Lidman of Carlson Motorsports also will be able to compete along with another half-dozen riders from Elk River.
“We hope this becomes a long-standing venue,” Plaisted said.
This weekend beginners are getting a shot at learning to race in one of the track’s patented learn-to-ride snocross clinics. The clinics are intended for riders of all ages, including beginners who are new to snocross racing, women, transitional riders, vintage riders, families and kids.
Riding techniques, tips, diet, race prep and sponsor relationships will be among the topics covered.
ERX Motor Park’s winter season will kick into gear next month when the Grassroots Snocross Series (Thursday Nights Under the Lights) kicks in and the ISOC Snocross Series regional events start.
Grassroots racing is planned for Dec. 15 and 29, Jan. 12 and 26 as well as Feb. 9 and 23.
“Thursday night racing at ERX is a cool deal,” Hibbert said. “It’s a great place for people to get their feet wet racing snowmobiles and provides inexpensive, family friendly entertainment for the community.”
Hibbert has been to the track as a spectator, and he said he had a blast.
“It was fun to see people dust off their old sleds and race,” he said. “Even better was seeing all the kids spending their night racing with their parents. It’s encouraging to see the Elk River area support the track. I wish more communities had a setup like ERX.”
There will be another snocross clinic Dec. 28.
For more information about the track, visit www.erxmotorpark.com.
To purchase tickets for the national snocross event, visit www.isocracing.com/index.php/erx-national/.