Motocross Track Big Draw For Local Economy

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Fast Traxx Motoplex is between Athens and Nelsonville along US 33.

"When I was 16 years old, I started working here, at this track, weed eating and mowing grass and anything I could do to make money and motorcycle racing, and in doing that I met the right people you know, to get me to Dirt Wurx and doing to supercross tracks and later on, owning this place,"  says Norm Bickley of Glouster.

Bickley purchased Fast Traxx in 2004.

"I started when I got out of high school at 18 years old, working for a company called Dirt Wurx.  In my life, I've built tracks all over the world.  We've been to 17 different counties, every one of our states and building super cross tracks, so if you've seen it on tv, I've probably built it," said Bickley. "That's what I'd done and I wanted to get closer to home and have fun with this and in 2004, this place came up for sale.  It was already an operating track, not at the caliber it's at now, it was a good running track, but it only had a few events."

This year, there's racing on nine weekends at Fast Traxx and people come from all over to get in on the action. The site allows camping and offers weekend events.

"This weekend for instance, we'll have people from Michigan, we'll have people from West Virginia, Kentucky, all over Ohio that swamp this place and they'll be here all weekend," explained Bickley.

He says the extra people coming in to the area mean extra dollars for local businesss.  He often hears from gas stations in the area that experience a business boom during motocross weekends as people come in to buy ice, drinks and snacks.
Paige Alost of the Athens County Visitors Bureau says Bickley is right about that, that "Fast Traxx definitely provides a positive economic impact" for the county.
She says, "We definitely see the benefit in groceries, dining, gas, snacks, and even at the car wash!"
Fast Traxx has three kinds of racing: motocross, stadium motocross (also known as supercross) and grand prix.
Who turns out?
Lots of families, says Bickley – fathers, mothers and the kids.

"There's really no such thing as motorcycle crazies, that's a misconception of people who don't know people who ride motorcycles. The sport that motorcycle racing is, is above and beyond anything that any normal person could imagine until they could throw their leg over something," he says. "A kid who races at the level of an A class, my son is an A class rider and he trains in a gym with a trainer four days a week.  They ride bicycles 15 and 20 miles a night, they run five and six miles a night. They eat right, you don't have time to do things that are bad for you. You might have a couple of people like you have in every crowd but most people here are serious and they want to win."

"My wife's here, our little girl, who is 9, my brother-in-law and his twin girls who are 12 years old.  Everybody rides, but today, it's just me, my brother-in-law, Ron, one of his daughters and my little girl. My wife rides, but she's taking tonight off," says Mike Blair, of Marietta.
Bickley says he's not getting rich but makes a pretty good living as the owner of Fast Traxx, where the racing season runs from May to November.

"Also, we're doing the Athens County fair, we brought that back last year and it's the first time it's been in 10 years, or 11 years.  It had a good crowd response, it was one of their nights of  sell out.  They sold every seat in the place, bleachers on both sides so, hopefully we can do that again this year, you know, keep this coming," said Bickley.

Also on this year's schedule: the Meigs County Fair and the Doddridge County Fair in West Virginia.

When the racing season is over, Bickley hits the road to focus on construction of new race tracks by Dirt Wurx.

"I spent a lot of hours of working but really, designing a motorcycle track is, after you get the safety aspect into it, it's actually fun. Like when you were a kid at a sandbox and you were building jumps for little cars and stuff, well I just do that for real. The only thing you have to do is figure out what is safe and what someone can jump and what someone can't jump and it's not safe for everybody, I mean it's a dangerous sport, if you don't do it correctly."

Bickley says riders have to wear protective gear, know how to protect themselves and be in good shape to safely ride.

In part two of my report, more from Mike Blair about why he loves racing and from Chase Kilbarger on how he got hooked and turned pro.