Off Track?

By Nate Jackson

Posted July 22, 2010 in News

Scanning the dry, sun-bleached dirt jumps of the Lake Elsinore Motocross Complex, it’s hard to imagine it as the popular track it once was. Overturned port-o-potties, an abandoned, graffiti-infested medical shack and brittle, cracked dirt make it feel like a forgotten wasteland. Surprisingly, it’s only been a few weeks since its downfall.

Today, the track is perfect territory for local motocross racers looking for a free ride. Churning up dust on their bikes, young riders drive their trucks cautiously past contorted chain-link fences. They unload their bikes, suit up, rev up and hit the jumps as if the park were still open.

It’s important to keep an eye out for cops, or even the park’s owner. However, the latter hasn’t been a concern.

“We used to come to the track when it was open,” says one rider, who came down on a hot Sunday afternoon to practice with a friend. “But now that it’s closed, we still come. It’s like a low-key free-for-all.”

For years, the complex was a mecca for motocross and off-road racers all over Elsinore. However, its future hangs in the balance due to violations of its conditional use permit. In April 2010, the city planning commission reviewed it and found 44 violations of its permit—including lack of sufficient staff and a quick medical response to injuries. This could threaten the park’s ability to operate. About three weeks ago, the owner, Randy Hiner, voluntarily shut it down.

The city says Hiner has been working towards resolving the issues—but he still has 17 more violations to address. However, commissioners say they are now unable to reach Hiner by phone or in person.

According to the city, Hiner’s future plans regarding the park’s ownership are unclear. One major option came when Sun City native and Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath recently inquired about taking over the complex. McGrath says he remains optimistic about getting his hands on it, according to a recent report in The Californian.

“I look forward to becoming involved in a ‘hands-on’ way with this track if everything works out for us,” McGrath tells the Weekly. He’s is currently in the middle of negotiations with Hiner over its ownership. McGrath’s history with the track goes back to the birth of his career when he used to spend much of his time training there.

“I am very excited about the prospect of being part of running my hometown track,” he says.
According to City Manager Robert Brady, every effort is being made by the city to keep the park open as a money-making action sports venue. They also say Hiner was on the path to full compliance with his conditional use permit.

However, on July 6, Hiner failed to show up to a meeting with city planners regarding an update on his compliance with his permit. Despite that, the commission gave Hiner an extra month to bring the park up to code. The next meeting regarding the park’s status with the city is scheduled for Aug. 3.

Local racing companies who’ve done business with the Elsinore track see great potential in the track if it’s run properly. Corona-based company Lucas Oil recently cancelled a two-day event at the track scheduled for July 25 and 26 at the complex due to disagreements over a business contract for the event. They think new management of the track could be a positive thing.

“The location of [the track] is outstanding for the motocross community and the off-road community in general,” says Lucas Oil spokesperson Patrick Wagenbrenner. “Under the right guidance and the right management of that facility, it has the opportunity to grow and thrive.”

New ownership or not, Brady makes it clear that whoever owns the track will be responsible for making sure that the conditions of its conditional use permit are met in order for it to stay in business. As negotiations continue, the plans for reopening the track are promising. Until that happens, locals with a lust for guerrilla dirt jumping have no problem keeping the place occupied.


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