Texas is finally back on the National map with the AMA’s selection of Freestone County Raceway as host of round eleven of the 2007 AMA Outdoor Nationals on September 1-2, 2007. Tony Miller’s Wortham, Texas ranch is home to Freestone County Raceway, so we figured he was the best person to fill us in on what’s happening down in Texas…
Tony, it’s pretty exciting to have Texas on the National schedule. Can you tell us what it took to get Texas selected as a site?
Simply stated, the Broome-Tioga event came up for sale, and we were contacted and had negotiations with the AMA. They did look at some other tracks, but liked what ours had to offer the best and we closed the deal.
So you have to bid to host a national?
Yes. Each event is owned by the individual tracks or promoter groups and they are under contract with the AMA to host the national races.
Were there a lot of other tracks in Texas competing with you to be selected?
There was one other.
What do you feel is the reason the AMA selected Freestone MX as the Texas site?
One of the reasons is being centrally located in the state; which gives us accessibility to the interstate and major airports. You see, since we’re in the middle of the state, we’re a couple of hours from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to the north, to the south of us in Houston you have Bush Intercontinental, and Waco Airport to the west of us. So central location for flying out, and being centered in the population of Texas; within a two-hour radius of our track you have 14.7 million people. The other thing is the land that’s available to use for the event.
How much land do you have available?
My ranch is 1150 acres, but we’ll be using approximately 500 acres of it. We anticipate the spectator attendance at the event is going to be larger than the average—the average being somewhere between 23,000 to 25,000 spectators. Some events have upwards of 28,000, and I think because of the population of Texas and the surrounding states we have an opportunity to push those numbers up a little bit.
One of the things I’ve realized when attending the Garrett Berg memorial race in Houston the past few years, is that a lot of people travel from nearby states to attend even local races. I imagine for an AMA National, you guys will be drawing from Okalahoma and other neighboring states?
Oh yes, there is a large population of motocrossers in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Missouri. I’m not from those states, but I just know by the people that come to our track and other tracks in Texas there’s going to be a lot of interest. It’s a large sport that has gotten bigger around the United States. Maybe Texas stands out a little bit more because we have two big amateur nationals in the spring, so there’s already some focus on Texas. We have some great tracks here with great dirt.
Can you tell us more about the track itself?
Let me explain a little bit about what you see on our website; the existing facility that’s already there is going to be our amateur day track. The AMA has said that whoever was getting this new event had to have a separate track for amateur day. They want to be able to walk in on Saturday and have the facility ready when they need it. So we’re going to use the existing facility for the amateur day, and the national track will be about a quarter of a mile away on the side of a small hill on another part of the ranch. The tentative layout has been done; it’s 9200 feet long with some obstacles already in place, and the rest we will build. We’re going to build some tunnel jumps so that spectators will have access to the inside of the track as well as the outside.
After the National will the new track be open to the public?
In time it will be.
The Texas Nationnal is scheduled for Labor Day weekend. What’s the weather going to be like around that time?
It’s hot here in Texas, but the good thing is where we’re located the humidity isn’t too high. The thing that’s good about our part of the state is once you hit September the nighttime temperatures start dropping, which allows the morning hours to stay cooler for a much longer period of time. It’s going to be hot, but it won’t be like late July or August. The cooler night and morning temperatures help tremendously.
One of the things that traditionally has made the Nationals so challenging, is they are in the summer, outside, and it’s hot.
That’s right. I’m sure the athletes, team managers and AMA officials will tell you that no matter where you go in the United States you’re going to have varying temperatures. Sometimes it’s cooler, sometimes it rains, but there are also very high temperatures. Colorado for example; it’s very hot there, but you have extremely low humidity.
Like you said, it’s unpredictable. This year we had what, three of four mud races during the Nationals?
Yeah. The weather issue just has to be dealt with by the teams and the riders and I think everyone expects that. It’s been that way for the entire history of motocross; you just have to tough it out. Look at Loretta Lynn’s in the middle of Tennessee in August; it’s brutal. Our weather won’t be nearly that bad.
How long has your track been open?
The facility was built in May of 2000. We’re about one hour south of Dallas.
Where can people find more information about the track and the National race?
We’ll have advanced ticket sales information and updates on the progress of the track at www.freestonemx.com.