Next week, over the course of four days, the Erath County Livestock Association (ECLE) Arena will be transformed by Tracy Kitchens and his crew into an arena cross track fit for professional and amateur riders.
Kitchens started riding motocross nine years ago, and said that he and his crew consider it an obligation to build tracks so that other families can have a place to enjoy the sport. And that obligation is what Kitchens says is the reason he started working on tracks like the one they will build next week.
“Events like this brings families together,” Kitchens said. “Most of the riders and their families come in Thursday night or Friday morning for the practice runs Friday afternoon, hang out together around the town on Saturday, compete Saturday night, and spend all day Sunday getting packed up and home.”
The first track Kitchens built was in Graham five years ago. He got such a good response that the city has allowed them to have an arena-cross event there every year since. Three years ago Kitchens got permission from Lone Star Over Texas Arena to build a track, and he brought arena-cross to Stephenville.
“When we start out building a track, we don’t have a plan or blueprints, there is no rule book for these things,” Kitchens said of his crew and the way they work. “We just put our heads together and say ‘there should be a jump here and a turn there’ it just works, and we work well together.”
Arena-cross is different from motocross because there is not as much room in arenas as there is for an outdoor motocross track. These outdoor tracks, built bigger, with wider turns and longer straights, are used in the summer and spring when the temperature is warmer and weather is better for outdoor riding. As the winter winds begin, the tracks move to indoor arenas, which are usually about 25 percent of an outdoor track.
According to Kitchens, arena tracks make for more interesting, closer races. And he says, “you just never know what’s going to happen!”
He tells a story about Riley Pemberton, a Stephenville rider, who last year, had the brakes go out on his bike during a race. If Pemberton would have been on an outdoor track he would have run off the track, but because he was in the arena, he crashed. Pemberton was unharmed, but it was a perfect example of how arena-cross is more exciting than motocross.
“Everyone but the pros race for braggin’ rights and plaques,” Kitchens said. Plaques will be given out to first through fifth places in every race. The professional class race winner will receive 200 percent pay back, which get the pros interested in coming to this event and putting on a good show. But the nice pay out for professional class is not the only reason the pros like to come to the Stephenville Arena-Cross event.
“I came to Stephenville the first year they had arena-cross,” said Michael Kasberg, a 20-year-old professional motocross rider from Denton. “I got hooked on the people. Everyone was like a big family and so nice.”
Kasberg, who began riding motocross when he was 12, has been back to Stephenville for Kitchens’ arena-cross every year.
There are fun events such as the Pit Bike Race, on Saturday night. Pit Bikes are smaller than normal moto- or arena-cross bike. This race will be for anyone who wants to compete, and will be for “bragging rights” only.
“This sport brings the whole family out for a weekend of good, clean fun that everyone can enjoy,” Kitchens says of the third annual Stephenville Arena-Cross, which takes place, starting this weekend, every weekend in September at the ECLA arena.
The Christian Cross Riders Association, a non-profit, Christian organization, will be at all of the events. The area leader, Bryan Jackson of Eastland, will be leading track side ministry before the races on Saturday nights for about five to 10 minutes.
Gates open at 4 p.m. practice begins at 6 p.m. and racing on Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. for all popular classes with plaques through fifth place. Admission at the gate is $10 with anyone over 60 admitted free.
There will be practice on Friday night, as well as Saturday night, from 6 to 10 p.m. with a cost of $15 per bike for practices, and a race fee of $30 per bike. There will also be a 50’s class, with every racer receiving a plaque. For more information, contact Tracy Kitchens at (254)-918-2166 or On-line at www.datmxevents.com.