CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks James Havir of Clovis takes his 250 cc motocross bike into and out of a tight curve during practice on Friday at Ned Houk Motor Sports Complex.
By Tony Gutierrez: CNJ staff writer
At the Ned Houk Motor Sports Complex, riders make at least eight jumps on the motocross track, Running Water Draw.
The track has been open to the public since March after three months of trying to establish it, said facilitator Larry Hartman.
“I went to the fair last year and saw how many local riders there were, and I heard a lot complaining how there’s no place to do it out here,” said Ray Reeser, the complex’s board president and track manager. “The vision of the founders (of the complex) was to have as much motorsports as possible.”
Reeser said he had to go through the Clovis Parks and Recreation board, answer its questions about such issues as safety and break-ins, then go before the Clovis City Commission.
Reeser said his next goal was to establish a four-wheeler track.
“They said it couldn’t be done and I like a challenge,” Reeser said. “It was another way for the track to make some money and provide the riders with an organized place to ride.”
Hartman said he and two other volunteer facilitators offer 17 classes based on age, gender and experience. Practice is held every Tuesday from 6 to 10 p.m., and the students ride laps in eight-minute intervals.
“It keeps people from riding illegally,” Hartman said. “Being only four months old and getting everything started, we’ve progressively grown.”
Hartman said while the complex is promoted with flyers, the main form of advertising is through word of mouth.
Track preparation takes about three days, and is set back whenever it rains.
“Most of our track preparation comes from volunteers in the community,” Hartman said. “Without them, we couldn’t be where we are today. The track was built for all skill levels and ages and sizes of bikes.”
Hartman said though the sport can be dangerous, like any sport, there have been no serious injuries on the track, only a few bumps and scrapes. He said emergency medical technicians are always on hand.
“We spend a lot of time working at these safety practices,” he said. “It’s a family atmosphere.”
Hartman and the other facilitators are certified safety instructors.
Ty Thatcher of Portales brought his 7-year-old son Dalton to practice for his first time.
“He’s just getting into the motocross thing,” Thatcher said. “It gives him something to do, and it seems like this is the place to get him some practice.”
Thatcher said he heard about the complex through a friend. He said he used to ride motocross when he was younger.
“I like jumping because I get to go fast,” Dalton said.
Like father, like son
Jon Walton of Clovis started riding at 8 years old when his father, Barry Jones, gave him a dirt bike. Now Walton brings his 5-year-old son, Drake, to the track.
“It’s basically like riding a 200-pound jackhammer,” Walton said. “I broke my neck. I still ride. It’s not for the faint of heart.”
Walton does some maintenance work for the track. He said it helps him relieve stress after working 250 hours with the wheat harvest.
“Instead of alcohol and drugs, it’s a natural high,” said his mother, Helen Jones. “It helps with coordination for the little kids. It gives them a chance to be with other kids.”
She said her grandson always asks them if it’s Tuesday yet so he can practice.
Shelly Burger of Clovis said she sees motocross as just as dangerous as football. Her sons are 10 and 6.
“We just bought them bikes to ride trail rides,” she said. “My oldest, Trevor, decided he wanted to race.”
Although she worries about the dangers associated with the sport, she takes physical and spiritual precautions.
“I just place angels around my kids before they even come out here,” she said. “There’s a big group of us that pray before they ride.”
Not just for boys
After Regan Williams volunteered by waving the flags signaling which lap the young riders were on, his 10-year-old daughter, Danni, pulled up next to him.
“She started when she was 5,” Williams said. “I bought her a motorcycle for Christmas. It takes too much time keeping her going. I don’t have time to ride.”
Williams said before the track was built, his family would have to travel more than 100 miles just to practice and usually still has to travel if his daughter wants to compete against girls only.
“I get excited when I beat them (the boys),” Danni said.