Huntley's Chad West, 18, has been racing dirt bikes since he was 5, and now he gets to do it locally.
Woodstock KTM and Harley Davidson began sponsoring Friday night motocross (dirtbike racing) last year at the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock.
After the Lake Geneva Raceway closed in 2006, Woodstock was the perfect alternative, West said.
“I was surprised, but I was also super pumped at the time,” West said of getting to race in Woodstock. “After Lake Geneva closed, everyone was looking for a Friday night track to go racing.”
“All your friends are out at the races, and it’s where you go hang out on the weekends.”
Doug Jackson, one of the owners of Woodstock KTM and Harley, said it was both a business and a personal decision to start racing in Woodstock.
“I grew up racing dirt bikes. I feel like the area needed a dirt bike track to allow kids to ride and race,” Jackson said. “When a child gets on a motorcycle early on, it captures them for a lifetime.”
West concurs with getting hooked on motorcycles early.
“I always wanted to ride,” West said. “It’s what we did as a family. It was our thing.”
Jackson said the fairgrounds board was receptive when he approached them about having dirtbike racing in the stadium.
“It helped them out quite a bit. It provides them a nice income opportunity,” Jackson said of the fairgrounds. “I think its good all the way around.”
The racing is not limited to youngsters and attracts a wide range of riders and fans to the Woodstock venue.
“We’re just trying to kickstart dirt biking in this area,” Jackson said. “It’s a spectator event as much as anything.”
With a couple of hundred racers coming out to race Friday nights, it looks like the kickstart is working. Jackson said they have racers as young as 5 and have about 15 classes of racing, including vintage bikes.
“We have classes for even first-time racers,” Jackson said. “They need more places to ride in our area.”
Even for those who don’t ride, Jackson said the racing presents a nice, local family outing.
“I think it gives a family an opportunity to have a nice cool evening, like watching a Friday night under the lights football game,” Jackson said.
While the initial attraction to racing in Woodstock for West was its location, he said the venue has exceeded his expectations as a longtime racer.
“It’s been really good. There’s high competition through every class,” West said. “It’s all centered around having fun on dirt bikes.”
• Rob Smith is a sports writer for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com.
Woodstock Motocross Friday night racing
Aug. 1, 22; Sept. 12, 27 at McHenry County Fairgrounds 11900 Country Club Road, Woodstock
Admission: $10, 7 and under free
Gates open: 3 p.m.
Registration: 4 to 6 p.m.
Riders meeting: 5:30 p.m.
Practice: 6 p.m.
Racing starts immediately after practice