Located a few miles outside of Morgantown, High Point Raceway in Mount Morris, PA, has hosted professional motocross racing events like the annual Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship since the inaugural event in 1977. In its 41st year, this national championship race, owned and promoted by Morgantown-based and family-owned company MX Sports, just keeps getting better and stronger. Located on a picturesque farm, High Point Raceway looks pretty amazing for its age, especially with this year’s brand new redesigned track. According to fans, the new track design and layout made it so there was not a bad seat anywhere, offering better viewing areas all the way around the track for the entire race, including the start, hole shot, gravity-defying jumps and the rest of the racing action.
After a Thursday night kick-off pig roast at Crockett’s Lodge, families arriving Friday enjoyed kids’ activities and a pizza party. Cars, trucks, vans, campers, trailers and RVs with license plates from every state toting freshly washed bikes poured in through the farm’s gates. It was a rainy Friday evening for the mini-bike racers, but they weren’t deterred and gave it their all to the cheers and encouragement of their families and friends. Making things even more perfect, the sun came out, signaling how the rest of the weekend would shape up. Friday night’s festivities finished off with a gorgeous sunset and a bonfire as fans enjoyed a corn dog or a slice and a lemonade or cold beer.
On Saturday, the track began to dry out, and the mud returned to dirt, making ideal conditions for the day’s races and the 20,000 fans in attendance. Overall, it was a brilliant way to spend a weekend, hanging out with great friends, watching the races, soaking up the atmosphere and, for many in attendance, spending Father’s Day weekend with dads, uncles and grandfathers.
High Point is dog-friendly, and I can assure you that the pet watching—and the people watching—was well worth the price of admission. Upgrading to VIP passes with pit access is an excellent strategy to meet the racers up close and personal and see all of their bikes and equipment. My experience with the professional riders is that, despite their fame, they are humble and accessible. Most are more than happy to pose for a picture with their fans or talk for a minute.
On Saturday morning, as thousands of fans began filling in the lush hillsides, “Country Roads” played while tractors smoothed out the ruts on the track and workers washed down the stage and shined up the trophies. Down in the valley, there were motocross legends like Ryan Villopoto and Fred Andrews preparing to take to the dirt track to perform once again for their adoring fans. In the morning’s qualifying rounds, hundreds of riders vied for the best times to earn their place in the top 40 in their racing class and their chance to participate in the day’s main events. As always, there were ceremonies honoring our country, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and their respective flags. Reverence was given to those who had fallen, including industry people as well as our service men and women, and U.S. Army First Sergeant Matthew Poling of Bridgeport, WV, was honored as this year’s Military Moto Hero.
In professional motos, after the qualifiers, there is a series of main events, beginning with a fiercely competitive consolation race where non-qualifiers compete in their last-ditch effort to earn a spot in the coveted 40 who participate in the afternoon event. On Saturday afternoon at High Point, there were six motos, two women’s motos, two 250 motos and two 450-class motos. Motocross racers must be the toughest athletes in America, rivaled only by the GNCC riders who will be at Snowshoe for America’s toughest race June 24-25. The sun beat down on them as it neared 90 degrees, but the dedicated racers were fully decked out head to toe with helmets, boots and racing gear as they approached the starting gate, having already raced once, and some twice that day, just to earn their right to compete. If you didn’t see the NBC Sports live broadcast of this weekend’s race, you will have to trust me on this, but there’s no kickoff or tipoff that rivals the sound of 40 finely tuned engines roaring at attention and then taking off all at once when the gates drop. The excitement is palpable. You can feel the adrenaline and almost hear their hearts pounding as they compete to see who will stand at the podium.
Hundreds of professional racers came to High Point this year, as they have for over four decades, from all over the country and the world for a chance to take home the trophy and a piece of the purse. This year, just the top 10 in each class represented over a dozen states and three foreign countries.
And then, just like that, it was over. Sunday is a much quieter day at High Point, with a church service, amateur racing and quality time with family and friends before everyone heads home, already looking forward to coming back to High Point next year.