MX riders go ‘a thousand miles an hour’ at Windy Hill

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery – more than 1,700 pics!
* Video – a hairpin turn at the start
* Results – published as soon as they become available

ELLERBE — Moments before only his second race ever, Lukas Motley discovered he already was on a first-name basis with the sport of motocross.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com The start of each class except the Pee-Wee division featured a sharp turn on a short incline after a furiously fast cold start.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
The start of each class except the Pee-Wee division featured a sharp turn on a short incline after a furiously fast cold start.

Asked for an autograph, the 12-year-old kept it simple. Lukas, he pressed into a notepad placed atop his helmet for a sturdy foundation in a cursive that was both deliberate and legible. Clearly, the young man has not yet reached the age where a scribble will do.

The autograph request threw him off, if only for a minute. But his focus didn’t stray at all. The Concord resident wanted to start fast, go fast and finish fast.

“About a thousand miles an hour,” was Lukas’ best guess at what his top speed might be.

Alright, maybe not that fast. But he and more than 200 other riders went as fast as their dirt bikes would allow all of Sunday in the North Carolina Hare Scramble Association‘s second event of the year at Windy Hill Sports MX. The sprawling facility is located about 3.6 miles north of the stoplight in the heart of Ellerbe.

Racing began at 8 a.m. and continues through the early evening hours. Competitors came from across the southeast — one young man’s grandfather drove more than 800 miles to see him race — but between 15 and 20 riders came from a little closer. From Hickory in Catawba County, northwest of Charlotte, a contingent came ready to race the revamped course designed by Joe Williams.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Airborne.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Airborne.

For Lukas, it was only the second hare scramble — a mix of swept course and wooded trails — of his young life. In his first effort, he placed sixth among eight competitors. He didn’t get a chance to preview the course during Saturday’s allotted practice time.

“He may have to stop and ask for directions,” quipped Wayne Motley, Lukas’ dad.

Lukas, in fact, handled himself just fine along the twists and turns.

While dad watched son, Renee Fraley, of Hickory, kept tabs on husband Tommy and sons Avery, 8, and Bentley, 11, all of whom were set to race on Sunday at least once. The matriarch of the Fraley clan was beside herself with the level of access to the spectator-friendly course, which drew rave reviews.

“This is one of our favorite tracks to come to,” Fraley said. “We love Windy Hill.”

The combination of motocross and trails were a bonus, she said, and the fact that “you can practice the day before” is not common practice.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com One of the Fraley boys exit the trails, with mom Renee in the background cheering on her son.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
One of the Fraley boys exit the trails, with mom Renee in the background cheering on her son.

The Fraley family began racing shortly after 8 a.m. and didn’t stop until well past 3:30 p.m. Fraley said it’s a great family atmosphere.

The Biddix family echoes Fraley’s sentiments on the course. As Michael and Amanda stood at an opening of a trail section that put riders back onto the motocross course, they discussed how the two and one-half hour drive from Hickory was worth it.

“I love it,” Michael said. “It’s a real nice place. I like the tight stuff they have in the woods.”

The Windy Hill facility, situated in the heart of the Sandhills region, has more sand than dirt — which is “different,” he said — but doesn’t detract from the experience.

Michael and Amy cheered other competitors on, but their favorites were Lilly Biddix, 11, Tiffany Anderson, 14, and Michael Biddix, 9. It was young Michael second race.

In his first, Amanda said, Michael wrecked, but “he’s getting a little more comfortable.”

Ray Leonard helped serve as master of ceremonies. Each of the five races, separated by class with staggered cold starts, began with the playing of the national anthem and a prayer. The moment served as an opportunity for Leonard to provide a course-specific safety briefing, as the distances and turns varied with each race. Leonard told riders revving up for the middle distance course to watch out for the swamp — and ride, not race, over the bridges.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Lukas Motley, 12 of Concord, poses for a photo and signs an autograph before the start of his race Sunday at Windy Hill Sports MX in Ellerbe.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Lukas Motley, 12 of Concord, poses for a photo and signs an autograph before the start of his race Sunday at Windy Hill Sports MX in Ellerbe.

“I’m not coming to get you,” Leonard said. “You’ll have to figure out a way to get out.”

Much like Lukas’ estimated speed, however, that wasn’t necessarily accurate. While Peggy Ussery and husband Joe, owners of Windy Hill Sports MX, managed their employees and the concession stand — proceeds from which benefit the Ellerbe Rescue Squad — the NCHSA supplied numerous officials and flaggers throughout the racing period.

Landen Wray, 14, of Hickory had a one-person fan club in mom Lisa Walden. She watched at No. 243 completed each loop of the roughly 1.5-mile circuit of motocross jumps and trails. It was to be Landen’s second time on the longer course later Sunday afternoon. In between the short and long course last time, Walden said her son didn’t rest.

Now, she said, he knows better. The level of competition in the long-course series is stiff. Plus, Walden said, there are simply more competitors in the field. In the short course, there were 37 riders. In the long last time around, there were 127 riders vying for the same best track to approach each jump.

He placed 80th among 127 riders his first time on the long course, Walden said, but Landen was exhausted afterward.

“It’s not so bad for your first time,” Walden figured.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Sunday was the sixth race date of the year, and second hare scramble competition. It’s not a guarantee that the NCHSA returns to Windy Hill in 2015. Race officials said planning for next year’s race calendar begins in earnest in November. Attendance and the size of the field are key element of a decision whether or not a facility is viable.

 

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

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