The sounds of engines revving emanated from the heart of Greenwood all weekend as an up-and-coming dirt bike club opened its track to riders of all ages, but with a focus on getting more children into the sport.
Route 3 Racing held its Racing 4 Change event on Saturday and Sunday with children as young as 10 and adults, some from as far away as Alberta and The United States, donning leathers and mounting dirt bikes at their track beside Highway 3 next to the Nikkei Garden.
Saturday was for practices and sign-ups for races based on class. All of that was free and some leathers and bikes were provided by the club to get as many people to try racing, explained co-director Angus McNeil.
“We call this Racing 4 Change because we do not charge and that’s because I really hate how motor sports in general are dominated by the rich,” he said. “People are free to donate, or if they want to sponsor a class or rider, they can do that.”
Co-director and McNeil’s wife Dale Roberts had a slightly different reason for hosting races. She wants to give children a positive outlet for their energy and a place where they feel a sense of belonging.
“My mission is to keep kids from going down the wrong path,” she said.
She agreed motor sports has become too exclusive with the costs for bikes, leathers and fees out of reach for the average family. Their clubhouse collects donations to buy boots, helmets and leathers so they can try it for free.
The track was installed this past spring, which McNeil explained was an abandoned ice rink and recreation area. They petitioned the city and asked if they could build a track there and were approved, which he said he is grateful for their support.
To make it fun and thank the city and their trailer park neighbours, the club hosted a campfire-side concert.
By Sunday the hopes of having kids try out racing were fulfilled. Several children had signed up and were ready to go. Annabelle Estrada, 11, was suited up and ready to go for warm-ups and racing. She said she hadn’t been to the track in a while and wanted to get back to racing. She had done “one or two” races at the track previously and after a few practice runs was feeling confident about her chances at winning.
Getting more children into the sport now would likely help keep them interested and the sport alive around Greenwood, like Jarred Mallach. Born and raised in Greenwood, he said he used to race around the mountains and back roads as a child and was keen to see more get involved.
The track is in his opinion, one of the best things to come to the city.
“Growing up here, we didn’t have a lot and young kids try to find something to do and get into trouble, but this is free and it’s amazing to see and amazing the city has allowed this,” he said. “We have nearly endless trails here and I could spend years exploring them. I still find trails I never knew existed and I’ve lived here all my life.”
Fellow adult racer Ben Wallman concurred it’s a positive and cost-friendly way to give children an outlet and also to give them direction and life skills. He agreed that the cost of racing was expensive, pointing out some tracks like the one in Mission costing up to $2,000 for four days of races in fees alone. However, changes are coming, with other tracks charging far less to get more people involved so it becomes less expensive to operate tracks.