Event Report: Dirt Quake USA

06/27/2014 @ 4:06 pm, by Sean Smith7 COMMENTS

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It’s Sunday morning and after we hit the ATM, I ask Ash to check the event website and see what time tech inspection is. In my head, its sometime around 11:15, and no bikes are to be started before 12:00 on Sunday (at the request of a local church).

Ash reports that the web site says tech inspection is from 9-10 and that the rider meeting was at 10:15. Shit. I text Thor Drake (my boss from See See Motorcycles,who is sponsoring the event), it’s 10:24. We’re in Longview, driving a borrowed Mazda B2500 that has a terrible miss, which only gets worse with more throttle.

We arrive at the scene in Castle Rock, WA. There are people in shorts riding all manner of choppers, Thor is dressed in white 12 o’clocking a slice of Sizzle Pie that Bjorn Drake affixed to a Honda ATC200, something to do with some advertising deal, but no one cares. It’s awesome.

It’s got apes, a pullstart, a sweet wheelie bar, a plinker, bar mounted rear brake, and well, just look at the pictures. As it turns out, there’s no tech inspection. When I go to sign in, Gary Inmann tells me, seriously, that if I see Dave England anywhere to tell him he doesn’t get to race if he doesn’t register. He’s still in his tent.

I’m told that the party went all night, but the racing stopped at 4:00AM when a girl broke her arm. The evidence is everywhere: Girl with arm in sling (nursing a beer), circular ruts, a ramp leading up to the edge of a burn barrel, bent and dirty bikes, scraped up people looking haggard and proud. My own night was pretty late and crazy, if a little less drunken.

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The Kawasaki EX250 I cobbled together from a box of parts started up and idled (badly) around 1:00AM. I returned from putting my boots on to find a spider’s nest had hatched and my bike was now covered in the bastards. The thickest concentration was where the seat met the tank, right where my balls were supposed to go.

I did what any sane person would, and doused it in gasoline as fast as possible and wiped it with a rag. A few moments later I was pinned in fifth on the gravel, rear wheel spinning just a bit, handling staying nice and neutral. There’s a dead spot between 0-70% throttle, and if I stop, it dies — but hey, I’m probably gonna be racing choppers and scooters and people who can barely ride.

It pulls pretty good in second and third on the kind of hard pack I estimate the track will be like, just barely spinning and sliding gently, so I called it good and went to bed.

In the pits we park across from Quentin Wilson and the Terracorsa, and any hopes of an easy first are quickly dashed. I get the EX250 unloaded with a borrowed ramp from MotoFactory PDX, warm it up (it’s 90 minutes before we’re technically allowed, but the kids racing KX65s two-up don’t seem to be getting in trouble), say hi to some people, and take a walk around the pits.

There is serious weirdness afoot. This must be what my generation’s idea of 1970 is like. Part Hells Angels, part Merry Pranksters, part Jackass, part hipster, part daredevil, part Instagram geek, part small-town fairgrounds, part AMA Pro Flattrack. The crazy thing though, is that almost everyone here is going to race motorcycles together. On a racetrack. There are even race officials!

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And you can race anything. Really. Even a snowmobile if you can find a way to get it around the track. Thor raced the slice and looked like he was maybe one step ahead of death (grinning like a madman) the whole time. Sliding, inside tire lofted, surfing that sizzle pie in a sea of choppers. It looked like an hallucination.

Drew Hopkins and Brody Cox from Bixby Moto were also on three wheels, and so was NWC’s 750 Sargent from Portland (a real-life William Murderface taking his aunt racing). Dave England in a sleestack suit racing in the girls class, Adam Alesky on a super Heritage Springer, a carbon fiber beast of an XR750 up from SoCal, #80 on the plates and unobtainium everything, a freaking Zaeta (Graziano Rossi anyone?).

There were loads of 19″ DTR tire wearing CRFs, an SV1000 framer with seemingly unlimited horsepower and unpredictable handling, a tiny woman on an SL100, George Kassapakis on a CR250 framer (looking like some Tom of Finland character wearing a thick black moustache, leather pants and hat, and dark glasses cruising around the pits), countless SR500s, a freaking MZ, three ninja 250s, an air-cooled GSX-R streetfighter, and a Brammo Enertia.

Riders of the last two both suffered stereotypical shoulder injuries, and one of the chopper riders almost had a really nasty high-side, but he was able to pull it down to the lowside and somehow escaped injury, or at least he was able to fake it until he got off the track. (Although, even the folks that got hurt still seemed to be having a good time).

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With all the ridiculousness, you might expect ‘racing’ in the Innapropiate Streetbike, Chopper, Street Tracker, Kitchen Sink, and Girl on a Motorcycle classes to be low-key. I certainly did. Two easy heat-race wins in the Innapropriate Streetbike class reinforced that bad assumption.

In the main event things were much more serious—18 bikes on track, and I was starting something like 10th behind most of the fast guys. Two laps in and Davin Wirtanen from Icon has crashed and busted his collarbone and shoulderblade, dislocated some ribs, and bruised a lung.

They restart us single-file from a dead stop and I decide it’s better not to podium than it would be to challange that crazy man on the scooter for position. The rest of the classes were just as intense.

Oh, and did I mention the pros racing the night before caught wind of what we were planning and hung around? They got their own class at the last second and Scott Baker and the boys put on a helluva show.

Somewhere beneath the serious, somber, sanitized, corporate sponsored, 100% family friendly modern day world of racing lies the true roots of the sport. It’s a fucking blast, but it’s not good clean fun—it’s high stakes, intense, occasionally bloody, always wild.

And free and easy in a very special way that seemed to put DQUSA goers in a state of near-ecstacy. Let the church down the road be our balance, this NSA monitored, self-driving-car having, bored-with-safety 2014 world can use a little no-rules run-whatcha-brung motorcycle racing.

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Photos: © 2014 Ash Good / One Human Story – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. paulus says:

    Awesome…. just awesome!
    wish I was there.

  2. Kr Tong says:

    Holy moly did we all miss a spectacle. I’ll pray something close in resemblance lands a permanent home here.

  3. Mert Lawwill says:

    Probably the best thing I’ve ever read on this site.

  4. Sean Smith says:

    Ha, probably the best comment I’ve read on this site! You can’t see it, but that’s a pic of you with Thor and your signature on a shop shirt hanging on the wall behind me. http://bit.ly/1iGtIXB

  5. Mert…I’m right here man…

  6. Sean Smith says:

    Lol, that’s gotta sting.

  7. Theodore hoff says:

    Dirt quake was the most fun I have had on a motorcycle. During my first flat track race, 5 years ago, I got busted up real bad. My leg was broke 15 places. It took 5 years to get the scrap iron out of my body.dirt quake was the perfect opertuinitys for me to overcome all that. I am 57 years old, I had a blast, and I did well. I will back out there.Thanks. I ride a vintage 500 Yamaha number zero.

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