MotoAmerica came to the Pacific Northwest this year, bringing professional motorcycle racing to the Ridge Motorsports Park. The backyard of Asphalt & Rubber, I made the short drive to the forested race track in order to see how the pros do it.
Both of the PNW’s local amateur racing clubs had just competed two weeks before at The Ridge, holding a joint-round on the recently revised course, which meant an obvious reference point on what to expect from the track’s new layout (a chicane having just been added to the track’s front straight this year).
Unsurprisingly, the chicane was the talk for much of the paddock, and rightfully so. As we found out weeks before the MotoAmerica round, the position of the chicane on the front straight is an issue for motorcycle racers.
A short distance from the start/finish line, race starts see large groups of riders vying for position on the narrow left and then right turns. The result was easy to see, with multiple red-flag incidents occurring on the new track section.
You would have to be a course veteran though to know the alternative, as the 130 mph entry into the proper “Turn 1” with multiple bikes side-by-side is an even riskier proposition than the chicane.
The solution, in my mind, is quite simple: push the start/finish line further back on the front straight, and give riders more time to shuffle into place before they enter the chicane.
Time will tell if change comes about, but considering the number of televised incidents in the chicane, some sort of modification to the format seems inevitable.
And here is the silver lining, as all outward appearances show the Ridge Motorsports Park ready and willing to make whatever changes are necessary, in order to secure its place as the premier facility in the Pacific Northwest.
What MotoAmerica fans don’t realize is the rapid progress and investment this facility has made in order to host the MotoAmerica championships, and to raise the level of its operations and property.
A new paddock building, acres of paddock asphalt, walking paths, a pedestrian bridge, room for spectating – all of these are new additions done in 2020 to get ready for MotoAmerica, and the track doesn’t seem complete yet.
The criticisms leveled at The Ridge are perhaps fair, as the circuit lacks the comforts and design found at many of the other stops on the MotoAmerica calendar, but the potential is also significantly higher.
Like most things in the year 2020, I am more curious to see what next year brings, as that will be the true measure.
Until then, from this photographer’s lens, it’s quite a fun circuit to shoot, with the forest and trees providing some interesting vantage points and come creative opportunities. Please enjoy the modest gallery below.
Photos: © 2020 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved