Motocross opens the list of rally races | Local sports


STURGIS – Thomas Pietz and Alexis Vandenburg relax in the stands of the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club ahead of Sunday’s motocross races. The two – each in their first year of racing – were among those entering the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for the first time.

Pietz is an 18 year old from Pierre who entered the Open C and 250C classes. Vandenburg, a 12-year-old from Bismarck, North Dakota, competed in the women’s open and 85C events.

Motocross races for Pietz started last year. He started working for a Yamaha-Polaris dealer who offered him some sort of sponsorship.

“I raced their bikes and I’m just running statewide now,” Pietz said.

The basics of motocross about using the clutch and changing gears were the easiest things for Pietz to learn. He drove motorcycles and other vehicles before switching to motocross.

“Having both wheels under you – and not four like on an four-wheeler or something – was a little hard to master to learn and take turns and the like,” said Pietz.

Motocross differs from other races in that one rider is neck and neck with 20 others in a row, Pietz said. He added that runners can run into each other. Jumps, loops and other variables go into the picture.

What did Pietz appreciate most during his short time as a motocross rider?

“It’s kind of a closed community, almost,” he said. “You see a lot of the same people competing in the same races.

“You get to know yourself in a way. There is usually no bad blood involved, ”he added.

The biggest challenge for Pietz is having the endurance required for motocross. He said it can be a bit difficult if a person is not used to it.

Pietz spoke of a desire to work on his turn on the Jackpine Gypsies track on Sunday.

“It’s a good track for the turns,” he said. “There are a lot of fast corners. “

Pietz’s future goals include continuing to improve and hopefully attend out-of-state events.

Pietz’s first motocross race was an indoor race in 2016 at Rapid City. He said that an indoor track is shorter and more technical than an outdoor track.

His first exposure to the track Jackpine Gypsies was over a month ago, and he praised it.

“It’s probably one of the best tracks in the state, I think,” said Pietz. He added that there aren’t too many jumps but he’s different because he sort of goes up a mountain.

Pietz also appreciates the long start that goes up the hill and not directly into a bend. His favorite bike is a 2008 YZ 250.

On race day, Pietz tries to stay calm, calm and collected. He keeps himself busy by checking every detail of his bike, and that’s usually when he thinks about racing.

“If I think about it too much (the race), I go wild,” Pietz said.

The highlight of Pietz’s brief motocross career was to increase his level of competition. He remembered being “that embarrassing guy” at first.

Pietz has raced on four or five different tracks this year. He feels like he’s doing more jumps and getting more technical.

He competes on the South Dakota Motocross Association circuit and sits in the middle of the standings. Next season’s goals include getting to the top of this list.

“You have to know when to keep going, when to keep pushing and when to back off,” said Pietz, describing the mindset of a motocross racer. “It’s not worth hurting someone or hurting yourself.”

Vandenburg goes by the nickname “Fuss” in racing and started in the sport a year ago.

“It’s fun and I love to be competitive,” she said, describing the appeal of motocross to her. She agreed that she liked to ride a motorcycle whenever she had the chance, and that the jump was the biggest challenge.

Vandenburg’s first time on the Jackpine Gypsies track was on Saturday’s practice day. “It’s rocky in places and then you will hit some really dry and powdery places,” she said.

She took part in about 15 events this year, including Millville (Minn.). This is an AMA track that professionals race on. Completing the junior girls’ class was a highlight for her.

His goals for Sunday had “not crushed” at the top of the list. She remembers crashing three times in Saturday practice.

On race day, Vandenburg receives advice from his father on what to change on the track. This includes getting up more, going faster in a straight line, and other things.

She said she would like to continue in the sport until she is too old to run.

Available results from Sunday’s first qualifying races follow.

1 Troy Barry (Piedmont, SD)

2 Luke Bestgen (Whitewood, SD)

3 Mitch Feterl (Spearfish, SD)

1 Mike Miner (Evansville, Wyo.)

2 Mike Schaeffer (Rapid City, SD)

3 Randy Schwartzs (Rapid City, SD)

1 Dylan Vanderlaan (Rapid City, SD)

2 Ethan Specht (Hemingford, Neb.)

3 Tate Eaton (St. Onge, SD)

1 Tanner Engesser (Rapid City, SD)

2 Crayten Roberts (Canton, SD)

3 Vandenburg River (Bismarck, North Dakota)

1 Harley Mcdonald (Scranton, Iowa)

2 Marek Manke (Belle Fourche, SD)

3 Eli Correlius (responsible, SD)

1 Tanner Engesser (Rapid City, SD)

2 Crayten Roberts (Canton, SD)

3 Vandenburg River (Bismarck, North Dakota)

1 Harris Huizenga (Bismarck, North Dakota)

2 Austin Painter (Rapid City, SD)

3 Greg Hermansen (Rapid City, SD)

The racing action continues at the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club on Monday. The Pro-Am Hill Climb begins at 10 a.m., with the Pearl Hoel Memorial Outlaw Short Track event scheduled for 7 p.m.

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