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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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In Sports

Arenacross comes to town this weekend. (PHOTO: arenacross.com)

Arenacross indoor dirt bike series returns to Milwaukee


This should be a good weekend to curl up and watch some motorcycles get dirty in a nice warm arena here in Milwaukee.

The AMSOIL Arenacross series returns to the Brew City for the first time in over a decade with dirt bike racing and more at the U.S. Cellular Arena. The doors open Friday, January 31 at 6 p.m. for the first night of racing. Saturday night begins with a pre-race Track Party at 5 p.m. where fans can meet the racers and get autographs, followed by racing at 7 p.m. Amateur dirt bike racers, many from our area, will be featured racing on Sunday, February 2, starting at noon.

Take it from someone who's been lucky enough to watch dirt bike racing at its highest level several times at Supercross events at Daytona International Speedway, this will be a fun and unique event for hardcore dirt bike fans or just about anyone who enjoys extreme sports. While some of these racers make the speed, jumps and wipeouts almost look easy, you can appreciate their talent much more when you see it up close.

After covering the arena floor with some 170 truckloads of soil this week, bike racers will compete in two main events each night, head-to-head bracket racing and more in this playoff inspired showdown toward a championship. Milwaukee is the fifth weekend of the 12-week Ricky Carmichael Road to Supercross series, named after one of the sport's legendary racers.

The Milwaukee event is sponsored by Sportland2 motorsports in Oak Creek. Sportland2 president Tom Wolf grew up racing dirt bikes and believes this is a good time to bring Arenacross back to Milwaukee. "Seeing these bikes and racers up close helps promote the sport and motorcycling in general," he said. "Most people have ridden a dirt bike or mini-bike, but just not the way that you'll see here."

Wolf also noted the connection between Arenacross and the current interest in extreme sports like the X Games. "Kids have always been into extreme sports, but it's way different now with the Internet and YouTube," he said. "This generation posts anything that seems extreme, but racing like Arenacross is taking it to a higher level."

Anyone from Milwaukee who makes the I-94 drive to Madison has seen motocross racing from a distance at the Aztalan dirt track on the south side of the freeway in Lake Mills, which hosts local dirt bike racing in the summer. Remember summer?

Both Wolf and Michael Muye, Arenacross director of operations, believe that Wisconsin and the Midwest is a hot area for motorsports in general.

"We've been trying to get Milwaukee back on the schedule for years," Muye said. "The sport of Arenacross is very popular in the area with a good number of our riders coming from Wisconsin. I would say this is a hometown race for close to half of our competitors."

Muye noted that two-time AMSOIL Arenacross Class champion Chad Johnson lives in Rhinelander and that 2013 AMSOIL Arenacross lites champion Maxx Malatia lives in Itasca, Ill. As for the top racers to watch competing in Milwaukee, Muye pointed to Tyler Bowers, who won his third straight AMSOIL Arenacross title last year and has also raced in the Monster Energy Supercross series.

Arenacross is the second tier series to Supercross, but that makes it a more affordable chance to see a higher level of racing, much like NASCAR Nationwide series that usually races in Wisconsin. "These racers are phenomenal," Wolf said. "They are the stars of the future and really exciting to watch."

The amateur races on Sunday are also an opportunity to see riders from the Milwaukee area and the region on the dirt, according to Wolf. "Riders will be in classes from young kids to guys in their 50s," he said. "It's a tight-knit community and we're proud to sponsor these events."

Arenacross tickets in Milwaukee range from $5 to $43 for the weekend and more information is available here.


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