Behind the Scenes – Building the Australasian Super X SeriesRound 1 – Newcastle
Well, it is time for the Australasian SuperX Series to start once again! This is the 3rd year of the series, and our 3rd year heading down under to build the tracks. We really wanted to start things off with a bang, so we designed the track with some really cool sections that the riders will enjoy and will keep the fans on their feet! Typically we start the build on Tuesday, but this year we had to start on Wednesday, putting the crew in high gear right off the start. As the dirt started coming in we were pumped, it was probably some of the best dirt we have worked with in Australia. With the shorter build time given to us, the crew cranked in an insane amount of hours, and had the track completed in 2 days – Awesome!! Overall this was a pretty smooth build. Nothing too crazy happened, and the track easily took shape. We were thrilled with the overall outcome of the track! Plus, with the great dirt we received, it helped make the track even better. When media day came, the riders were impressed with what they saw and super-pumped on the track. We are excited for the racing to get started and to put the first round in the books!
July 29, 2010….there we were, sitting in the baking hot Los Angeles 4 o’clock sun, watching all of our hard work turn to a complete dust bowl. Now rewind to July 18th, when the two forces of Dane Herron and the DHI crew, and Jason Baker and the Dream Traxx crew began the challenge of building all of the dirt events for X Games 16. As the dirt began to roll into the Coliseum, the site for this years Moto X, Freestyle, and Rally Car events, things were going smooth. Then word came that the construction site where all of the dirt was being hauled in from was suddenly shut down. Our building job quickly got put on pause, as our new job was to hunt down more dirt. To add to the confusion, this year we hauled in almost 20,000 yards of dirt which is 25% more dirt than the previous year, with one less day to build. That is enough dirt to build 4 normal supercross tracks. Then lets throw the other curve ball, the mega ramp up the middle of the course, and the rule of dirt guys not being able to work while ramp guys were working, and vice-versa. Yet another challenge of the build….trying to build lanes going up the peristyle at a 45 degree slope instead of on flat ground. All building challenges aside, the crews cranked out an insane amount of hours and sculpted nearly 20,000 yards of dirt into this years SuperX, Freestyle and Rally courses.
Back to July 29, 2010….after only 3 hours of sleep from the night before we began prepping the SuperX course first thing in the morning. The track was still completely ripped so the dirt was open and we could continue saturating the soil as much as possible before the event. We finally took Skidsteers to it around mid-day to pack it in and continued watering. We continually watered the track throughout the day, knowing that it was going to take a brutal beating from the blistering hot, dry, LA sun. As the events started, we knew the dust was coming. The crew did all that we could to have the track prepped right – but when you are dealing with 95 degree temperatures, completely dry air, and hours of practice on the track before the event, there was only so much we could do and knew the dust was bound to happen. Plus once the events were started, there was no time in the schedule for any grooming or track maintenance since everything was revolving around the live TV schedule.
After the events were over, and we heard all of the talk around the pits about how dry and dusty the track was, and things like “why didn’t they water”, or “they should know how to prep a track”, all of our heads hung low. If only the fans and riders knew how hard we worked to try to beat the dust! When have you ever seen a daytime Supercross race in the blistering hot sun??? There is a reason you don’t! After Dane and Jason had a long talk with ESPN Executives, hopefully we will see some scheduling changes next year!
So, now the SuperX and Freestyle events are over….time for the crews to pull an all-nighter and get the Coliseum ready for Rally and Super Rally. Running on only 3 hours of sleep from the night before, many of the guys worked a 39 hour shift to tear down and rebuild. Once the Rally courses were ready, the guys then headed over to Staples Center to prepare for the Step Up, Best Whip and Best Trick competitions. Their work streak was not over, because now was time to tear down those jumps and build the Speed and Style course. Once the course began taking shape, and many of the guys had been up for nearly two days straight, they decided to call it a night. After a refreshing 5 hours of sleep, half of the crew headed to the Coliseum to handle the Rally events, while the other half headed to Staples to continue preparing for the Speed and Style events. After all of the crazy work hours, and loads of stress – it seemed like they were finally on the downhill stretch.
Overall, all of the events went off with out any major problems. At the end of it, the guys stood back in an awe and respect at the feat they had accomplished. More than 24,000 yards of dirt, hauled into two different locations, building 8 different events, with a crew of 8, working an average of 18 hours a day – X Games 16 was an event and challenge that they will never forget!
This could not have happened without the experience of team captain, Dane Herron. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with someone with his resume. He assembled an amazing crew of some of the hardest workers around. I take it as an honor for him to give me the task of handling the Super X and Speed & Style courses. I would also like to personally thank the crew; Corey Hobbs, John Burns, Shiloh Cahill, John Pelton, Brandon Johnson, Kurt Eppler, and Ricky Scavia, for all the hours of hard work that they put in this year. Even after all the hurdles that we had to jump, I know that I am privileged to have this opportunity, and I am truly thankful.
Been awhile since my last post, things have been crazy. Just got back from building a freestyle course for the Red Bull X-Fighters Russia. Imagine being on the front lawn of the White House, starting up your dirtbike, and hitting an insane freestyle course…..that is pretty much what Red Bull X-Fighters Russia was like. All I knew upon departing for Russia, was that we were building a course at Red Square in Moscow. Once we arrived on site, began the planning and building – it all began to sink in. Right behind us was the Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and to the left was Kremlin Wall. We were standing on a cobblestone street that was laid hundreds of years ago, and the only thing we used to protect it was plastic. We were actually building a freestyle course on a historic landmark.
We began building on the 14th of June. The first week of the build we had to build at night so that construction was not occurring during the day…we worked from 5pm to 8am. Surprisingly enough we had great equipment from Zeppelin CAT, being in another country this normally is a struggle. The dirt started coming in at midnight on the 14th and the course started to take shape…kind of!! The dirt was coming in so wet from the previous weeks rain, the loaders were unable to get on the dirt because the ruts were so deep. So, we had to start out by pushing it up with the bulldozer, and then had to scramble to find an excavator. To add insult to injury, once we were two days into the build, it rained for another two days. We salvaged what we could with tarps, and soldiered on. At one point on the third day of the build, one of the trucks came in with such a heavy load that it actually flipped when it raised the bed to dump. After a couple days of sunshine and continually turning the dirt over, the dirt started coming around and the course started taking shape. In the end, we actually finished a day early, with one of the coolest backdrops I have ever seen! In addition to having an awesome freestyle course built for the riders, Red Bull when one step further and had a really cool rider staging area built. What they built was a life-size lincoln log house for the riders area, and each rider had their own individual lincoln log stall. We were trying to figure out how we could get it home once the event was over because it was so cool!
The event was insane. As the sun started setting, and the bikes were flipping, the backdrop was one that will never be forgotten by riders, fans, and crew. Everybody put in their best performances, but in the end Levi Sherwood threw down an amazing run with some of the craziest spinal dislocating tricks I had ever seen and took home the win.
When it was time to tear down the course, or bump out, as we call it – there was a lot of dirt to move. Then it was presented to us that we would be peeling the final layer of dirt off of the historic cobblestone street that was only protected by a sheet of plastic. Adding to this feat was knowing that right next to where we will be peeling dirt off of the historic stones was Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The story behind the Cathedral is that once it was built, the architect was blinded so that he could never build something like it again. So if they blind a guy for building one of the most incredible Cathedrals in the world, what would they do to the guy that tore up their historical stones?! No pressure….right?!?! I even joked with friends and family…”well if I come up missing, you know why!!” All joking aside, the bump out went very smooth…not a single stone was damaged and we left Red Square just as we found it!
All in all it was an amazing trip. I enjoyed stepping aside from my normal building world of supercross and motocross tracks to team up with Dane Herron of DHI and his crew. They are truly the best in creating freestyle masterpieces! It was a true privilege to be part of this monumental event, and look forward to future opportunities with the DHI crew!