Whoop de Dos

Jan. 3, 2015

For those of you who are not in the know, there are basically two types of dirt bike racing (off-road motorcycles) known as “motocross” and “supercross.” A typical track is a dirt surface; it has several jumps and a number of rhythm sections (multiple jumps in a row), which are separated by turns that bring the racers back to the original starting point. “Motocross” races take place on permanent outdoor tracks. And “supercross” races are held on temporary constructs that are usually built in stadiums or arenas.

Jason Baker is a former professional racer. He’s the founder of Dream Traxx, a company that’s been building motocross and supercross tracks since 1999. Baker himself can operate bull dozers, excavators, loaders, and skid steers. He believes the key elements in building a track are experience, knowledge, creativity, and superior craftsmanship.

In October, he built something truly unique. It’s a brand new concept to supercross racing called “straight rhythm.” Baker says, “By this, what I mean is we have taken the normal supercross track, which is a track filled with several jumps and rhythm sections, separated by turns, and we have removed all of the turns.” When the track was originally designed, it was supposed to be a mile long course. But after a bit of research and development which included building a test course, the decision was made to shorten the track. After the test runs, the feedback from riders was mostly positive. The result is a half mile supercross drag racing dirt track. “Red Bull decided to push forward and introduce this new style of racing to the fans. So now we have the inaugural Red Bull Straight Rhythm taking place October 4, 2014 at the Los Angeles County Fairplex.”

Red Bull Straight Down
Riding the Straight Rhythm course

The dirt work started in August 2014. Crew members from Dream Traxx and Dane Herron Industries hauled in and laid approximately 10,000 yards of dirt. In mid-September, Baker joined the build at the Fairplex. Once a few of the riders arrived, they tested the track so that adjustments could be made by moving dirt and until Baker had it the way he wanted. Once the event is over, another week’s worth of labor will be spent taking the track apart and hauling away all of the dirt. The heavy equipment used to build the track were a 25-ton excavator, three D4 dozers, three tracked skid steers, and one 6-cubic-yard wheel loader. The equipment came from Caterpillar Rental, which Baker has been doing business with from the beginning. First, because he’s a small outfit, and then later because so many of the tracks he’s had to build are all over the United States, it just isn’t economically sound to have his own fleet right now.

Baker says, “The account manager that I began doing business with, Greg Brill, always treated my company as if we were a multimillion-dollar account, even though it was just me in the beginning. He made sure I always had exactly what I needed, and played a big role in helping my business succeed in providing such reliable equipment. As my busness grew, they not only supplied me with great equipment, but provided me with some great marketing opportunities. They have stood behind my company and have developed a great interest in the sport of Motocross.”

When it comes to building race tracks, Baker feels that whenever he’s in a machine, he’s using it in a completely different capacity than what they’re normally used for in general construction. “I originally began learning about track building by constructing and maintaining my own track when I raced. My dad is pretty old school, and when we discussed having a private training track, he said “˜You want it, you build it!’ He provided me with the equipment and dirt, and I did the rest. Over the next few years of racing and traveling, I began helping prep and maintain some of the other private tracks we trained at. As the years went on, I honed my skills and began treating it as a career instead of a hobby. And thus, Dream Traxx began.”

Baker says he doesn’t consider a new track to build as a “project” or as “landscaping” or even as “complex landscaping.” He looks at the Straight Rhythm track and that 10,000 yards of dirt, in much the same way he looks at all of the tracks he builds. He sees them as an empty canvas. “I take great pride in the “˜art’ that I make. I do not just see them as tracks . . . I see them as art! As I have said in interviews before, I relate what I do to an artist who paints with paintbrushes. In my case, the earth is my canvas, and the equipment are my paintbrushes.”

As for the Red Bull Straight Down, all indications are that it was a success.

“This is such a fun build for us, and we have no doubt that the fans and racers will love it. You are combining things you could only normally do and design in a video game, and bringing it to real life. It could quite possibly change the sport creating a whole new style of racing.”