Supercross season is now officially in full swing for the masses after the first Canadian round went down last weekend, but for some it started a long time ago. Marc Peters, track builder to the stars, is one of the people who began his 2006 season months ago. Peters is responsible for designing, building and maintaining all but Yamaha’s factory training grounds, meaning he sculpts the SX test tracks for KTM, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki. We caught up with Marc today while he was in the midst of rebuilding the Suzuki track, and picked his brain about what goes into building the courses that your heroes test and train on…
So Marc, you are probably a busy man right about now…
Oh yeah, this is definitely a busy time, but honestly, it has been busy for a long time now. It seems that every year the factories want their tracks done sooner and sooner as the competition gets that much more intense. I’ve been rebuilding them, changing them, and keeping the maintenance going, and it’s a lot of work. The maintenance alone is really tough, especially right now because there are just so many motorcycles riding the tracks. Plus, with everyone going to 450cc four-strokes this year, the tracks are getting thrashed. It’s been tough; a lot of long hours, but I’m not complaining, because there’s lots of work and that’s a good thing!
How much has maintenance increased and/or changed with the new age of four-strokes in Supercross?
Basically, cleaning and prepping the tracks with four-strokes versus two-strokes just about doubles the time and workload. It is very tough, and just makes for way more hours in the seat because these tracks get torn up! My stress has been upped substantially, because I want to provide all of the teams that hire me with the best possible track that I can.
With the increased workload, have you been changing the tracks much, or is it everything you can do just to keep them ride-able?
Well, we have been changing them quite a bit. We’ve been working with the riders on trying to make sure that any obstacles they are having troubles with, we incorporate into the tracks so they can learn more. Another big difference with the four-strokes is that they can go so much bigger off of jumps, so we can build larger jumps right out of corners and things. They are able to hit stuff so much harder now, and clear so far, that the tracks are becoming easier for them so we adjust things accordingly.
Of all the tracks you work on, which team is the hardest on their test track?
I would have to say that it is between Kawasaki and Honda because they both have so many teams. They each have three or four satellite-type teams on their tracks, and that is a lot!
What is your typical season for building? When do you start construction on the tracks for the coming year?
Anymore, I’ve been working around the clock, straight through from one year to the next. Between the tracks that I take care of here, plus some of the things I do in Europe over the summer time, it seems there is a year-round demand for my services. When I am not building tracks for the factory teams here in California, I’m off building in Australia, Europe, South Africa, and I am even heading back to the Middle East again to build tracks for the kings out there because they were happy with the work I did there before. Also, I have even been doing a ton of Supercross building during the summertime here, because I tell people, especially privateers, that we have to do it then because I am too busy in the fall and winter. It’s tough, because I can only do so many tracks. Some people get to the point where they absolutely can’t wait anymore and just want something to ride on, no matter how good or bad the track itself is.
How many hours does it typically take to build a “normal factory track, and how much dirt is moved around in the process?
It literally takes hundreds of man-hours. Between me and a handful of guys, it takes us a long, hard, five-to-seven days, depending on how many things go wrong! Plus, the tracks should sit for a while before they are ridden on to allow for proper hardening. I always tell people about ten days total, because it gives the track a little time to take form. Of course, with every second counting, they want to be there with gear on the minute I pull out of the gate, but that isn’t a good idea. I recommend a good few days of sitting before a track is ridden on, otherwise it gets beat up even quicker. As for the dirt, I am moving around roughly 6,000 yards, so like I said, it’s a lot of work. Matter of fact, thanks for the interview, but I need to get back to building…