If you’ve never attended a race event and think they’re for rednecks and aging teens, you need to emerge from under the rock where you’ve been living and visit Shelton’s new world class motor sports park, aka The Ridge. It will knock your socks off.
The Ridge is located at 060 W Eells Hill Rd, Shelton, WA, 98584; (360)427-RACE.
Directions: From I-5 On I-5 in Olympia take Exit 104 and merge onto US 101 N towards Shelton/Port Angeles. After approximately 5.9 miles take exit to stay on US 101 N towards Shelton/Port Angeles After 17.3 miles take Left onto Dayton Airport Rd WA 102 towards the Washington State Corrections Facility. After 1.5 miles turn right on W Eells Hill Rd, Track will come up on the right hand side, can’t miss it.
The facility itself is a pleasant surprise, though a work still in progress. In the finest European tradition, it has left most of the trees and topography while cast in a beautiful setting of surrounding forests and territorial mountain views. This is no southern California moonscape strip. It is currently hosting race events as it works toward building amenities such as flush toilets, rental garages, bleachers, observation towers, and a drag strip. Three inches of new specially designed racing tarmac is soon to be added on top of the existing asphalt base. The course itself has 16 breathtaking turns and changes of elevation totaling 400 feet over its 2.5 mile length.
This is a family oriented venue. Rowdiness, inappropriate behavior or safety violations are not tolerated. Association with organized racing groups who hold events at the track is encouraged. The track takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. Anyone found to have disposed of oil/vehicle fluids anywhere other than the designated recycling disposal units will be asked to leave.
Despite the no nonsense rules, the free spending crowds and participants who show up clearly are having the time of their life. The atmosphere is friendly, the camaraderie apparent. The colors, sounds, speed, and intense competition set against a background of God’s own paradise is not just exciting–it’s stunning. Reportedly without the assistance of the outrageously funded publicly endowed EDC (Economic Development Council), the track established itself in Mason County, becoming a destination and world class raceway in the bargain.
The July 14-15, 2012 weekend of racing including all classes of motorcycles, sidecars, and assorted 2-wheelers was sponsored by the Washington Motorcycle Road Racing Association (www.wmrra.com), Tim O’Mahony, president, PO Box 94323, Seattle, WA 98124, (253)3322-9364; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Tim O’Mahony, his club members, and track officials were affable, generous with their time, and provided a tour of the track after the awards ceremony (complete with a narrative of the technical aspects of each turn in the course and how track management worked with motorcycle racing interests to allow for bike safety as well as automotive competition). They represented members as young as 12 years old to 74 who’d raced competitively at their track events. All competitors are, of course, required to don racing leathers and helmets. One young man was left with his skin intact, as a result, after losing his bike during a Sunday Morning race, though the machine was much the worse for wear.
An interest sight at the track were the plethora of colorful tire cozies on the various bikes. It turns out that racing tires (typically $400/ea.) are designed to maximize grip on the racing surface at high speeds involving a lot of heat generated from the rigors of the race. This differs dramatically from normal street tires which have their best grip at cool temperatures, but rapidly lose this with elevated temperatures–becoming quite slippery. The racing tires are not only expensive and specially engineered, they’re soft to the point of often only lasting one or two races. These disciples of Mercury aren’t shy about dropping loads of cash in pursuit of their love of speed–Thus the tire cozies and their electric heating coils before each race.
The Awards Ceremonies:
After the drama and intense activity of a full race day, awards are presented to the winners while appreciative supporters clap and exhibit approval. These folk like each other and their hobby. They don’t mind having a good time. It would appear that age, gender, and economic status are no barrier to any of this as many co-drivers were women (sidecars), teams like Kawasaki, Ducatti, Yamaha, etc. had fully equipped racing bikes for rent @ $250/day. Bikes of every displacement and size were entered, matching virtually any pocketbook.
The WMRRA club president was quick to respond that owning a motorcycle wasn’t a prerequisite to club membership. If you’ve grown tired of life in the slow lane, this group may well be your spot of tea. To find out, come to some of their events and check them out. Talk to the racers, their spouses, children, and event officials.
WMRRA member, Russ, introduces & describes his club to listeners
The Washington Motorcycle Road Racing Association presented awards to the winners at the end of a Saturday complete with a full day of competitive racing.
WMRRA Awards Ceremony video clips: (CLICK to view)
A Tour of The Ridge (track) w/WMRRA 7-14-12 (1/2)
The WMRRA club officials generously provided a narrated tour of Shelton’s world class Motor Sports Park track. The facility is still under construction, but it has begun hosting events such as motorcycle racing. At 30mph, the ride negotiating the many curves and blind corners was a thrill. Speeds well over 130mph on the track seemed fantastically surrealistic. Development of the facility has been imaginative while remaining sensitive to the environment and community. It is destined to become a tradition as well as a destination in the Mason County community.
A Tour of The Ridge (track) w/WMRRA 7-14-12 (2/2)