Full speed ahead

Published 6:28 pm Monday, November 28, 2005

By By Matthew Nascone
Dirt bike riding is rarely seen on ESPN or FOX Sports, but Shane Hadley believes it is going to be a huge sport in a couple of years.
"It is becoming a popular sport and car dealerships are starting to sell dirt bikes," Hadley said.
Hadley has a desire for the sport of motor cross and he has done something with that desire. He built the Atmore Motor Cross track with his dad, Bobby Hadley and some friends.
"We want to get a lot of people out here because it is a fun sport," Shane said. "I have been riding for about seven years and it is such a great sport."
Shane said he realizes it is not like team sports, but it brings a whole new meaning to exhilaration.
"Baseball and football are fun, but racing, jumping and crashing, now that's a whole different kind of sport," Shane said. "Oh man it's great and because it is an individual sport, you always have to be better than the next person because when you are neck and neck with someone it can wear you out."
Shane and Bobby opened the track on the weekend of Nov. 12-13 with a race. The turnout was a great surprise for the Hadleys.
"I never thought it would be that big and it was a very good opening weekend," Shane said. "It looked like Mayfest out here and there were all kinds of sponsors here selling all kinds of stuff. There were about 40 people that came out with campers."
The tailgaters came to see the action and action they saw with 150 riders registered for the race. The day saw two dirt bike races and one four-wheeler race. The four-wheeler race was held last and Shane said it was the most exciting event of the day.
"Dirt bikes are where the money is because more people ride them, but when the four-wheelers race, everyone comes up to the gates because they know there is going to be a crash," Shane said. "Last Sunday every single four-wheeler in the race crashed."
John Chase is a fellow employee of Shane and Bobby's at Baldwin County Pest Control, but on weekends he is the starter for the races. He said the work for the job is a lot, but that it is a fun way to spend his weekends.
"It is a seven-day a week job, but I have been riding all my life and I love this sport," Chase said.
Accompanying is what Shane called a 30-second board holder. This person's job is to let the riders know when there is 30 seconds to go until race time.
The other employees at the track include a person in charge of keeping the drivers straight as they enter the starting blocks, an announcer, a scorekeeper, a statistician, at least six caution flag people for wreck notification and two Emergency Medical Technicians.
Shane said the track would be open from 9 a.m. until sundown every weekend for practice. It will cost spectators and riders alike $10 to get through the gates.
On race days the price of admission is still $10 for spectators, but racers have to pay $30 for registration into a race.
The gates open at 6 a.m. and the races usually start around 9 a.m., Shane said. There are also classes at the track on race days that cost $20.
Shane said he hopes the success of the opening weekend fuels the desire for more fans to come watch the races.
"We plan on having a race every month and the next one on Jan. 14 should be even bigger than our opening day race because word of mouth is better than any flyer, Web site or anything like that," Shane said. "It seemed like everyone liked it so they should bring some more people out next time."
Talk might be the best option for attendance, but Shane said he would still use the services of the track's promoter, Steve Hicks of gulfmx.com.
Shane's ambition for bigger and better does not stop with his track in Atmore.
He wants to see a type of networking between his track and the tracks in Crestview, Fla. and Irvingtown.
"When the Crestview track is finished we want to set up a points system between our tracks," Shane said. "Then we could rotate through the three tracks on a three-week cycle and have our own championship."
The dream for a system similar to the NASCAR Championship Series is only a dream as of right now, Shane said.
The track is located in Atmore at the end of Hope Grant Road. Piles of dirt that make up the mounds for jumping span throughout a 38-acre plot of land and the track itself is one mile all the way through.
Shane said he wants a lot of people to come out and enjoy the track. He said it is a lot of fun and it is something different.

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