Utah National: How to Build a Pro Moto Track

Ever wonder what it takes to build a state-of-the-art, National-caliber MX facility? Here's how.

Rider testing the new Utah National MX course
Rider testing the new Utah National MX course© Jeremy Henrie/Miller Motorsports Park

This weekend marks the inaugural running of the Utah National at Miller Motorsports Park (MMP). Located just outside of Salt Lake City, the new venue was created for the pro motocross series. Here how it was built:

Found location: Miller Motorsports Park in Utah
Found location: Miller Motorsports Park in Utah© Jeremy Henrie/Miller Motorsports Park

Step 1: Find a Location
Since the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is a National series, it’s important that the tour maintains geographic balance and circuit diversity. With the nearest other round located over 500 miles away in Lakewood, Colorado, MMP is perfect. And, with the next, and final, round being held on the West Coast in Lake Elsinore, California, the location fits the series’ travel pattern nicely as well. The fact that it’s located on the infield of a world-class racing facility in a state that’s known for action sports doesn’t hurt either.

Step 2: Find a Builder
When it comes to building professional motocross tracks, there are few builders out there who are more qualified than former pro racer Marc Peters. He is the same man responsible for the Nationals held at High Point Raceway, Steel City and Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park, and has worked on all of the factory test tracks in Southern California. For MX Sports Pro Racing, the company that runs the Nationals, he was the easy choice.

“Marc Peters is a magician on a bulldozer,” says president of MX Sports Pro Racing Davey Coombs. “He is one of the best in the business because he knows exactly what these riders and their ever-evolving equipment are capable of because he works with them on a daily basis.”

Step 3: Design the Track
Initially, you might think that designing a track would be as simple as sketching out a few jumps and turns on a cocktail napkin. After all, that’s how supercross was conceived, right? There’s much more to it these days, however. Athlete expectations are high, fans require a high level of excitement and the sport itself has evolved tremendously.

The 1.1-mile track at MMP was designed to be new-school, with obstacles that are reminiscent of supercross, but will become much rougher and nastier as the race wears on. It also features an uphill start that turns right and immediately drops down the landing of a tabletop jump.

Step 4: Build the Track
The initial track at MMP took three months to build, and workers had to move approximately 182,000 cubic yards of dirt. Since then, pro riders like Chad Reed have tested the track out and several changes were made in accordance with their suggestions, including the addition of a layer of topsoil and sand. Further improvements are set to be made based on information gathered from riders, such as Ryan Villopoto, who are scheduled to ride the prerace press day.

Testing the newly built Utah National MX course
Testing the newly built Utah National MX course© Jeremy Henrie/Miller Motorsports Park

Step 5: Race Day
The actual day of the National isn’t as simple as opening the facility’s doors and dropping the gate. Factors such as traffic flow, paddock size, weather, noise level ordinances, security, the level of moisture in the soil and much more all have to be considered. Get everything right, and you’ve pulled off the impossible. Botch one detail, and you’ll have a contingent of angry fans, riders or even both, calling for blood. For race organizers, it will be a long day that starts before the sun comes up and ends long after it sets.

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