Primm NV, March 15, 2007 - In most sports the competition surface changes very little from event to event. Rain or snow may muddy up a football field, but it's still always 100 yards long. They move the holes around a little on the greens at Augusta but the Masters course is the same every year. And give or take a few feet to the outfield fence, the dimensions of every baseball field are identical.
Not so in supermoto racing. In fact, one of the beauties of the sport - and a constant challenge for its competitors - is the ever-changing track layouts. Wild jumps, crazy obstacles, hairy turns ... any and all things are possible at the hands of the sometimes fiendish track designer.
Numerous tight turns and plenty of dirt characterize this year's Stateline Challenge track, designed as always by the event organizer Marche Karger, who is himself a racer.
Witness the course for this year's Stateline Supermoto Challenge, April 13-15 at Buffalo Bill's Resort & Casino in Primm, Nevada. The supermoto season's kickoff event - and North America's largest supermoto race with more than 500 entries - is designed "for the racers by a racer", that being Marche Karger, now in his third year of organizing the Challenge www.snvsupermoto.com.
"One of the most fun and creative parts of putting on this event is designing the track," says Karger. "The spectators want to see just how skilled these riders are; how fast they can go and still make it through all the obstacles without crashing. Of course the riders are cool with hazards and tough turns, but they also want to have opportunities to pass. My job is to make everybody happy."
Here's how he's doing that this year. For starters, a single hairpin at the holeshot isn't quite enough for Karger's taste. Racers have to back it in twice more in quick succession to try and establish position. After that, there's a third-gear kicker lip to launch the pilots into the dirt section.
Returning from the 2006 layout is "Gravity Gulch" (see A on the map), where riders drop down into a gaping hole seven feet below track level, then roost off a lip 15 feet above it. A stutter-step tabletop on the back dirt straight - no doubt inspired by the surrounding picturesque desert plateaus - is named "Marche Madness" after its creator (map location B). And as passing opportunities go, it doesn't get any better than that wide split in the middle of the dirt (C on the map).
Speaking of dirt ... is there not a bit more than the traditional 30% supermoto allocation on this year's track, Mr. Karger?
"Guilty," admits the racer-turned-producer. "There's just so much territory to work with out there beyond the Buffalo Bill's parking lot, I couldn't resist adding another turn or two. I hope the guys like it."
Judging from the way the entries are pouring in for the event's third outing, it appears that they do.