Motocross track comes alive
PROCTORVILLE -- There's a sound coming from a valley outside of Proctorville. It echoes off the hills and trees. To some, it may sound like a swarm of angry bees. To Dean Whitley, it's the sound of a dream in bloom.
Whitley is the owner of Creekside Motocross, about five miles north of Proctorville on Ohio 775. The sound isn't bees; it's the sound of dirt bikes of varying sizes and horse power ripping through the freshly conditioned dirt of the track.
"We've had 20 or 30 riders out here every week," Whitley said.
Whitley has dreams of creating a sports complex that will feature more than just motocross.
"The long-term goal is to have baseball and softball fields out here in addition to the track," Whitley said during a recent evening of open practice at the track. "I want it to be a sports complex. That's why we called it Creekside Sports. I want it to be more than just a motocross."
Riders from elementary school age to early 40s were sliding through corners, hopping whoop-dee-doos and grabbing some serious air on the table-top jump as they tuned and prepared their rides for the coming weekend's races.
Whitley said the land was overgrown with trees and underbrush when he took possession. But a can-do attitude and a quick lesson in heavy equipment soon changed all that.
"When I wanted to build the track, I told the people at Caterpillar I had never operated a bulldozer before," Whitley said. "They showed me 'this lever moves the blade up, this moves it down' and then they turned me loose."
What Whitley created started out as just a practice track for a few friends. But from there it grew, and he decided to host some races. Based on that experience and listening to what the riders liked and didn't like, he went back to the drawing board and totally revamped the track.
"I spent all of last winter looking on the Internet to learn how to build a good track," Whitley said. "I took riders' suggestions and made the track wider and faster."
Whitley said he estimates he spends 30 hours a week working on the track. Those hours are in addition to having a full-time job. And it's not just the track that he's trying to make better.
"I've put 700 tons of gravel in to the road leading up to the gate (to the track)" he said. "It's a work in progress."
Whitley knows he's up against other, more settled and better known tracks in the area, but he thinks there's room for his track in the Tri-State motocross community
"Hopefully in four or five years, we will have grown to have 50 or 60 riders on race day," he said.
Race days at Creekside are Sundays with gates opening at 9 a.m. Practice starts at noon and racing starts at 1 p.m. Whitley does close the track one Sunday a month to "take a break."
Entry fees are $15 per rider. Wednesday evenings are practice nights at the track with a $10 fee per rider.
"If you race with us on Sunday, then you can come and practice with us the following Wednesday for free," Whitley said.
Whitley said he hopes to add demolition derby on a regular basis to Creekside. The Creekside Crash demolition derby is scheduled for Oct. 20 at the track. Whitley also said he hopes to host a turkey shoot at the complex on Oct. 26.
If you go: Creekside Sports and Motocross
WHERE: 5183 State Route 775 in Proctorville. To get there from Huntington, cross the Frank "Gunner" Gatski Memorial Bridge (31st Street Bridge) and turn left at the third red light in Ohio (Ohio 775). Follow the signs to the track, which is located approximately five miles on the left.
WHEN: Racing Sunday. Gates open at 9 a.m., practice starts at noon with racing starting at 1 p.m. Admission is $8, with children three and younger and adults 65 and older admitted free.
ON THE WEB: www.creeksidesportsohio.com.