( 3) No one tells you that the track designer is
responsible for everything that comes near the track. My
time is often taken up with a myriad of mundane details,
like where the 20 brand-new separate phone lines will go.
When the track workers get bogged down by the
ODE TO KARL SCANLON
workload, they ask, “Are we going to get everything
done in time?”
To which I always reply, “They are going to hold the
race whether we get done with our dream track or not.”
I’ve been to hundreds of AMA Nationals in my life, and
many of them were rubbish. I know that even if my
dream track doesn’t get done, it will be better than any
AMA National track from 1970 to 1990 (and even if I
stopped working on it three weeks before the National,
it would still be better than Miller Motorsports Park and
Elsinore could ever hope to be).
I know that
people like to say
get rich while the
riders don’t make
any money. To build
the 2014 Glen Helen
National track, I had
two Cats (D5 and
D6), two top loaders,
three dump trucks,
a road grader, two
excavators and three
water trucks at my
beck and call. That
is several million
dollars worth of equipment, not to mention the
heavy-equipment operators needed to make them move.
My designs would never come to fruition without Karl
Scanlon. I am the guy who says where the dirt should
go. Karl is the guy who gets it done. He is much more
important in the overall picture than I am. He builds the
track out of true-to-life dirt. I just envision it.
WHAT’S IT COST?
People and equipment cost money. If I imagine a
new corner, like the new velodrome turn, I don’t give a
thought to what it costs to build it. In practical terms, it
took all of the equipment listed above, the men to
operate the equipment and two full weeks of trucking
dirt in to get it built. Glen Helen has probably spent
$25,000 on that one turn.
I’m proud of Glen Helen for not taking the easy way
out. They don’t just hold a race on the same track as last
year (or as 15 years ago); they build a totally new design
for each year. I know everyone thinks that the individual
National promoters are getting rich hosting their races,
but you know who really gets rich at Glen Helen? The
guy who sells diesel fuel, repairs Caterpillar tracks, rents
fences and sells water-truck pumps. As for me, I don’t
take a dime for my effort. Why not? Because I race at
Glen Helen every weekend, and I want the track I ride at
to be as good as it can be. Plus, working with AMA Pro
Racing gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. ❏
starts pave their starting gates in the name of fairness.
Dirt starts rut up unevenly. Concrete is always the same
(from gate one to gate 40). Dirt starts have to be repaired
between motos. Concrete doesn’t need any maintenance
To meet the AMA rule and still have a trouble-free
concrete start for the other 51 weekends out of the year,
I have a concrete cutter come to Glen Helen two weeks
before the National and remove the 140-foot-long concrete
starting slab. And then, you guessed it, I have him come
back a week after the National is over and pour a new
I could build a really awesome track if the
circumstances allowed it, but they don’t. I can’t run
the track wherever I want, do whatever I want or go
wherever I want. Why not? Because I have a list of
criteria that have to be met.
(1) I have to leave room for 20,000 people.
( 2) I have to provide access for 20,000 fans to get
around, into and out of the track. And, in that plan, I
have to make room for emergency equipment, port-a-cans,
concession stands, TV platforms and heavy equipment.
This fence is
the track, but it’s
still part of the