Vans and pick-up trucks loaded down with dirt bikes and race-gear crept out of the early morning fog and up the hill overlooking the track. Tents were setup and bikes were unloaded by yawning motorcycle enthusiasts still shaking off their Saturday nights.
As bikes get unloaded parents feather choke levers and kick cold-blooded bikes to life for the younger kids. Only a handful of the kids on 50cc bikes had the luxury of an electric starter.
Mini-moto racing isn’t anything new, pint-sized pocket and pit bikes have been raced competitively for years. Races and track days are regularly held at Sandy Hook Speedway, a location which is better known for its go-kart racing.
Rather than the typical pocket-bike setups ridden at other tracks, Sandy Hook’s races are run on 125cc and smaller supermoto bikes – lightly modified dirt bikes outfitted with slick tires. The combination of upright positioning, sticky tires, and torquey motors make supermotos a ton of fun on the track, and a great way to safely hone more advanced riding and cornering skills.
The bikes run during the endurance races were limited to “mostly” stock Japanese 4-strokes. The pit lanes were filled with red and blue plastics. Honda XR100s and Yamaha TTR125s were the bikes of choice for most teams.
The track was still wet from the early morning’s rain as riders began practice for the inaugural SH 50 and SH 200 endurance races at Sandy Hook Speedway in Harford County, MD. With these slick conditions in mind, the race director ended the 9:00 a.m. rider’s meeting with cautionary words, “You can’t win an endurance race in one lap, but you sure can lose it.”
Plenty of bikes went down during the day’s races, but all of them got back up. What supermotos lack in top end speed, they make up for in simplicity and reliability. A yank to straighten the bars and a firm leg on the kickstarter was all it took for man and machine to get back out on the track.
After practice, racers had a brief break to finish dialing in their bikes and discuss the fastest lines with their teammates before the qualifying rounds.
During qualifying, racers’ lap times were recorded electronically via a timing chip attached to each bike. The teams with the fastest qualifying laps earned spots at the front of the start line.
Youth racers tackled the SH 50 in teams of two, switching off at lap 25. Four teams took to the track, but only one stood at the top of the podium 50 laps later.
The co-ed duo of “Team Hot Wheels”, made up of racers Kloe Slunt and Jake Macolley, had some of the fastest laps of the day in the SH 50. They earned themselves matching first place trophies.
The SH 200 adult race was broken down into 8 segments and tackled by 14 teams. Each team was composed of two-to-four individuals. Every 25 laps, teammates rode off the track and into the pit area, where the next racer was staged and ready for the next 25 laps.
Rain began to fall as the SH 200 wound down. With only a few laps to go, racers began to ride more aggressively. Time was running out and desperate attempts to pass were undertaken. The wet conditions and fatigue started to take their toll. Tired riders start locking bars and sliding out more frequently.
Despite the weather, the consistent riding of “Team BSP”, made up of riders, Brett Scott, Sterling Beiler, and Paul Lynch, earned them first place in the competitive adult field.
Sandy Hook welcomes spectators and the track has several great vantage points to watch the races from. However, visitors wanting to experience mini-moto up close and personal will need to purchase a pit pass. The $13.00 pass grants access to the pit area of the track and its excellent fence side views.
Mini moto races are held at Sandy Hook Speedway from March 24 through November 10. All ages and skill levels are welcome.