Four-time world supercross champion Ryan Villopoto may be retired from a monster career in motocross racing, but that doesn’t mean he is finished making an impact in the sport that put him on the international stage.
Working with a growing number of motorcycle dealers and the state’s leading motocross track operators, Villopoto is bringing back what was a premier northwest motocross tradition, The Pac West Motocross Series. Villopoto and a small group of motocross enthusiasts have formed a new company, the Pac West Motocross Promoters Group, to breathe new life into the series.
“Pac West was around when I was a kid,” says Villopoto. “It used to be a very big series in the Northwest. I raced it as a kid.”
The popular series that dates back to the 1980s would capture the weekends of as many as 800 racers from across Washington, California, Idaho, Oregon and British Columbia, including the participation of many of the state’s motorcycle dealers and race tracks.
But the recession in 2008 hit the motocross industry hard. The economics of motocross racing started to work against the one thing that has made motocross strong – the participation of the family.
“We’ve seen declining participation,” says Villopoto’s friend and partner, Brian Nilsen, who runs Bremerton’s Brothers Powersports with his uncle and also operates Motowest, Kitsap County’s premier motocross track. “Affordability and the significant time commitment are definitely contributing factors.”
“To complete a typical series, a family must spend one out of every four weekends a year at motocross tracks across the region,” Nilsen said. “Many families start a series but a significant number of them simply can’t dedicate the time and resources needed to support 12 to 14 weekends of racing or can’t complete a series due to conflicting race events.”
Villopoto and Nilsen’s Pac West Motocross Series will be a simpler, more cost-effective and shorter format, designed to make motocross a more accessible sport. The event is designed to give riders more track time and a more realistic chance of completing the series.
“We want to produce a better series and a better weekend for the racer,” says Villopoto.
Like the Pac West series of the past, the group is also bringing back strong dealer and manufacturer participation, increasing the number of dealer-sponsored motocross teams, racer discounts and giveaways, and manufacturer contingencies. Having races on Sundays means the dealers can actually participate in the event without worrying about staffing their dealerships.
“In the old days, we would stand by the track and root for the racers. You could see your riders coming down the track,” remembers Bill Cameron, owner of Skagit Powersports in Burlington, Wash. “There would be giant trailers with a shop in it in the pits, with a dad and two kids with two bikes each. But then, dad lost his job.”
Cameron is optimistic and energized by the organizers behind the new Pac West series and recognizes a strengthening economy and stronger employment – factors that help fuel motorsports participation. For Cameron, the Pac West series is an opportunity to breathe new life into his dealership’s motocross team and encourage some friendly competition with other dealers across the state. A dealer trophy for the best overall score of their riders is part of the new series.
“We’re going to get involved with incentives and the spirit,” Cameron says. “Given the size and design of the series, a lot of new riders and non-professional riders can do the whole series. Once the word gets out on this, I’m going to send out email blasts that we’re looking for riders.”
A portion of the event registration fees goes directly into prizes for completing the series.
“The larger the participation in the series, the larger the prizes waiting for top riders at the end of the seven-race series,” said Brent Davis, the third partner of the Pac West Motocross Promoters Group.
“We want to create a series where there is more in it for the racers,” says Nilsen. “We also want to provide an activity for a family with affordable and standardized fees across the series.”
“Not all kids play traditional stick and ball sports,” says Ryan Villopoto, who grew up in Poulsbo and started riding motorcycles when he was 3. Villopoto rode for the Brothers Powersports motocross team in his early teens, before joining Kawasaki’s manufacturer team. “We want to create a series where riders can actually see it through to the end – where they can earn industry prizes and recognition for increasing their skills.”
Villopoto’s passion for motocross ultimately vaulted him to the international stage, where he captured the AMA World Supercross Champion title four years in a row before retiring from motorcycle racing in 2015.
In addition to founding the series with Nilsen, Villopoto and Davis run Grays Harbor ORV, the premier motocross facility in the Puget Sound region. The track located west of Olympia will host the final round of the series. Nilsen’s Motowest track in Bremerton will host the sixth round of the series.
“It’s like bringing back original Coke,” Nilsen said of bring back the Pac West Motorcross Series. “Everyone remembers it. The ‘moto-dads’ will definitely remember it.”
Riders can join the series by signing up on the Pac West Motocross Dealers Challenge Series website. To learn more about participating tracks, dealers and race weekend details, go to www.PacWestMX.com.
Racer Weekends at the Track
Here’s what a race weekend means to riders participating in the series:
Classes for riders from age 4 to 50+
All-day Saturday practice on the hosting race track
Overnight camping (standard fees across the series)
Sunday race day
Standard track fees ($35 Sunday race entry per class, $35 Saturday practice fee)
Race day photographer
Riders must race in at least six of the seven rounds to be eligible for factory contingencies, series-end awards, and Pac West Motobucks (to spend at participating dealers)
A 10% discount at participating dealers with membership to the series
Save the Dates – Series Schedule- Saturday is Practice, Sunday is the Race.
Feb. 17 & 18, 2018 – Woodland MX, Woodland, Wash.
April 21 & 22, 2018 – Eugene MX, Eugene, OR.
May 5 & 6, 2018 – Airway MX, Airway Heights Wash.
June 9 & 10, 2018 – Washougal MX, Washougal, Wash.
July 21 & 22, 2018 – GHORV, McCleary, Wash
August 4 & 5, 2018 – MotoWest, Bremerton, Wash.
August 18 & 19, 2018 – GHORV, McCleary, Wash.
About the Pac West Motocross Series
The seven-round 2018 series is open to riders age four to 50-plus. The series is founded by the Pac West Motocross Promoters Group, LLC, which includes four-time AMA World Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto. To learn more about the series go to PacWestMX.com.
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Pac West Motocross Promoters Group
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