All of you mini crossers out there getting ready to head to Vegas this weekend for the U.S. Open need to forget about packing your flamed button-up party shirts and load up your bike and gear instead, as the promoters of the first-ever U.S. Open Mini GP are preparing one of the best new tracks on the West Coast to host their inaugural event.
TWMX recently paid a visit to the six-month old facility located near the California/Nevada border, and we can attest to the fact that if you haven¿t ridden Sandy Valley MX park yet, you need to get your butt out there!
Headed by two Las Vegas moto enthusiasts named Clark Abecassis and Kit Stokes, SVMX was opened by the pair as an answer to the major lack of riding opportunities in the Vegas area. As it stood less than a year ago, the only regularly opened practice track near Sin City was in Mesquite, nearly an hour and a half north of the Strip.
¿We were so frustrated with not having anywhere decent to practice, so one day we decided that we would make it happen ourselves,¿ said Abecassis, one-half of the SVMX operation. ¿We spent hours and hours just driving around, looking for a place that didn¿t have any rocks. It seemed everywhere that we went, there were just too many rocks and bad dirt. Eventually, we stumbled across the land we now have, and realized it was perfect. It¿s located between California and Vegas so it¿s accessible from either place.¿
It didn¿t take the two long to get things up and running, and the duo have been making constant improvements since breaking ground last year. When asked what separates Sandy Valley from other tracks, Abecassis said the answer is an easy one. ¿For one thing, we¿re racers and riders ourselves, so not only do we know what makes a good and safe track, we also take the utmost pride in making a killer facility for our friends and even ourselves to ride at.¿
Perhaps the most stand-out feature of the Sandy Valley course is the 25-foot-deep ¿gravity cavity¿ with a monster step-up coming out, turning the obstacle into a third gear, floating roller coaster that puts your heart in your stomach just like the New York, New York rollercoaster 40 minutes away on the Las Vegas Strip. After that, riders hit the gigantic Talladega turn, where the only limitation of how fast you can slam through lies in your wrist. Other cool features of SVMX include a 100-foot double, huge berms, a nice little set of whoops, and a choose-your-own-line section. As for the general facility, in a word Sandy Valley is enormous. There¿s plenty of parking and spectator access, plus some new landscaping complete with shade trees and bleachers for your fans that accompany you.
Track irrigation is also top-notch. You won¿t see any water trucks flooding Sandy Valley; instead, there are built-in, professional Rain Bird sprinklers just like the ones that keep all of the factory test tracks moist. Between the 180-foot range of the Rain Birds and the fire hoses for the areas in between, the track¿s dirt conditions are as close to a fresh rain as you¿re going to get near Vegas. There is also permanent lighting being added.
This weekend¿s U.S. Open Mini GP will combine both the main, big-bike track as well as the regular mini track to make for a truly unique, extra-long layout that has never been run before at Sandy Valley. Participants will compete for trophies and a slew of prizes and goodies donated by various sponsors, including headlining sponsor Spy. Friday is a practice day from 8 o¿clock to three, and Saturday is the big race day. Gates open at 6 a.m., practice is at 8, and racing commences at 9:30 a.m. sharp. Besides offering just about every mini class you could imagine (including a women¿s division), big bikes are also welcomed to come and race. There will be two big bike support classes, one for beginners and novices and the other for intermediates and pros. So far, the rumor mill has been churning about which celebrity riders will show up to compete. On the rumor list is Grant Langston, David Pingree, Guy Cooper, Derek Costella and even the King himself, Jeremy McGrath.
Normal practice hours for Sandy Valley are Saturday and Sunday from 9-2, with some weeknights under the lights to be added soon (supposedly within a month). The track runs under IFMA rules and sanctioning, so don¿t forget your card! The normal practice fee is $20, spectator fee is $5, and kids under five get in free. Riders interested in this weekend¿s event or other practice sessions in the future can go to www.svmx.com or call Clark directly at 702-373-7860 for more information about Sandy Valley Motocross Park.