Southern California is one of motocross’ focal points, and never more so than the weeks between the end of the supercross series and the start of the Outdoor season. Race teams are out at the public tracks to dial in MX bike settings and let the racers acclimate to the heat and long motos of the coming summer racing. It’s the place to be… but what if you’re somewhere else?For several years now a few companies have been willing to bridge the distance between your own you-are-here “X” on your hometown map to a prepped, outside berm with Ryan ngey diving underneath you. Yes, you can practice with the elite pro racers, tour some of the best motocross tracks in the world with only a handlebar blocking your view and witness some of the most important races of the season—of three different series! Race SoCal is one of the companies that can make this happen, and it blows those lazy Corona-beer-ad vacations out of the water.
We coordinated with Stephen Heighton, the tour company owner, to meet a dozen vacationers on day five of their two-week moto-odyssey. But when the Race SoCal RV and trailer showed up at Milestone MX with 13 Honda motocrossers, the riders were nowhere to be seen. That’s because Lasse Anderson, Mat Cox and Stephen unload and prep the bikes while the riders are still finishing their breakfast back at the compound. Race SoCal doesn’t just show vacationers the factory stars, it treats each like one, too. The bikes—five 2011 CRF450Rs, seven 2010 CRF250Rs (likely 2012s by the time you read this) and two CR250R two-strokes—were all in good shape and everything was ready to go before the riders arrived; chains adjusted and lubed, gas tanks topped off, engines warmed up, and Chad Reed, Ryan Dungey, James Stewart and Jeremy McGrath breaking in the track.The Stars
The 12 riders arrived and most continued right past their race bike and to the track fence where they climbed up like kids stealing a peek into a baseball park. Dungey was hammering laps, Reed was circling with bursts of speed, Stewart was railing ruts and contemplating a motocross title run, Ken Roczen was charging the whoops, and Andrew Short was seeing what his 350 felt like with room to stretch.This California sight was even more rare for this group of vacationers, all of who were from Australia. This made sense since the Australian dollar’s strength made this vacation very attractive to crocodile-skin wallets, and Australia’s Chad Reed was likely to be seen. The collection of guys was mainly two large groups of friends taking the trip together, with a few others who came solo.
Soon the Aussie vacationers were suited up, and the faster riders joined the pros on the main track. Nothing is more convincing of the talent on the national series than seeing one of these racers fly past. Many other of the vacationers stuck to the “ATV track” to get in a day’s worth of riding without getting in the way of the pro pace.One thing the factory teams don’t bring out is the rig, and that means no autograph session “clock signs.” The riders are approachable, and the vacationers got to meet several of the stars and collect some photo souvenirs.The Compound
After a full day of moto the riders grabbed lunch and retreated to the Race SoCal compound in Murietta. The sleeping quarters are arranged with a military barrack’s utilitarianism, with a few common areas for relaxing, bench racing and eating. Race SoCal puts its money into the experiences, not the living accommodations. So fair warning—this organization is set up for a young man’s, youth-hostel-travel approach that wants to see every dollar going toward action, not relaxation.The bikes seem to have it a little better with a large shop to keep in top shape. It makes sense they have it good since this is their permanent home and need to be working 100 percent of the time. After all, without a working bike, this trip is a van tour of California’s Inland Empire. The vacationers never have to step foot in the shop—all maintenance is performed by Race SoCal mechanics.
The Perfect Storm
Race SoCal has several trips throughout the year, but the one we dropped in on covers what is clearly the premier spot on the calendar. The racers on this tour fly into Las Vegas just in time to catch the final supercross race of the season. Then they drive to Murietta for a week of riding the prepped Southern California tracks, and wrap up that week at Glen Helen Raceway watching the United States Grand Prix. Then it’s out for another week of hitting the SoCal tracks or some fun riding opportunities the area throws at them, capped off with a road trip to Sacramento for the Hangtown opener of the Outdoor series. And maybe the Aussie mojo played a factor, with Chad Reed winning the Vegas Supercross and the Hangtown overall to kick off another great season for him. The vacationers then pile onto a jet and fly out of Sacramento back home. Vegas, Glen Helen, Hangtown… How was your summer vacation?There really is something special about Southern California. The weather borders on perfect, many of the tracks are prepped daily (and prepped well), the sport’s racers either live locally or often fly in to test, and the days are wide open to, well, go wide open.In Their Words
“The biggest surprise of the trip was the performance Chad put in at Hangtown to win the opening round of the Outdoor series; it was an inspirational effort. The second biggest surprise was going to Mike Metzger’s house after meeting him at Glen Helen on the last day we were to ride. Mike is such a good bloke, and with the track all muddy and the riders on the tour wanting something a little tamer, he invited us out to his place to go trail riding with him through the hills around his neighborhood. We all had a blast and only lost a couple of guys along the way…“If you love motocross and await the latest round to come on TV each week, you need to do this trip at least once! It is seriously the best value for the money, and you wouldn’t do it any better if you organized it yourself. It is something every rider needs to have on their bucket list for sure!!” —Luke Passlow, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia“I first did a trip with Race SoCal back in May 2010. It opened my eyes to a whole new world… To come to a country and go riding with some of the world’s best riders everyday was unreal to a keen motocross rider like myself. So I booked a second trip with Race SoCal to come back and do some more riding and race the World Vets at Glen Helen. Then 2011 came around and I got keen to come back, because I had always wanted to see an AMA MX National. I’m sure I will be returning in the very near future.” —Jarrad Hardcastle, Newcastle, Australia“Riding on the same track at the same time as the pros was the best part of the trip. Seeing firsthand how fast they really are (or how slow I am). Also seeing Aussie Chad Reed win all the races whilst I was there… Negotiations are already underway with the wife to get me a leave pass so I can do the trip again!” —Jai Passlow, Canberra ACT, Australia“All the tracks are so well looked after, it’s just perfect! I would definitely want to make it a once-a-year thing! SoCal is the best place. I would live there if I could.” —Michael Salvarinas, Australia
Company: Race SoCal International
Phone number: 951.691.3064
Web address: www.racesocal.com
Types of tours/description: One- to two-week trips with riding nearly every weekday, tickets to weekend event races and company tours/moto shopping (Troy Lee, Pro Circuit, Oakley, Chaparral, etc.) on occasional non-ride days. Month-stay training also available.
Pricing: $1,000 (one week, off peak) to $2,800 (two-week stay described in this story). One-month training is available for $4,600.
Included in price:
• Transportation to local tracks, race events and industry events
• Airport pickup and drop-off
• Breakfast each day and water on the ride days
• Motorcycle fuel and expendables and wear parts (fuel, oil, chain lube, etc.); crash damage costs are the responsibility of the rider.