Dirt bike enthusiasts soon will have a place to race as a new motocross track was built north of Emo over Thanksgiving weekend.
Mike Scheibler, who had the Tamarack Motocross Track built on his property at the end of Elliott Road, said he feels this is something the whole district has been waiting for.
“The kids have been saying, ‘Finally, we’ve got something to do here. We can come out here and play, buy dirt bikes, and have someplace to run them,’” Scheibler said during an interview Sunday.
“More and more bush roads are shut down, you can’t use gravel pits,” he noted.
“Now they’ve got it—go give ’er. Just respect each other, respect the land and don’t make a mess,” he remarked. “Come Tuesday, this track will be open. It will be free for the rest of this year.
“I want their feedback, and I want them to spread the word,” he added. “Next year, we’ll be set up for them to actually compete.”
Scheibler said the project has been 18 months in the planning, but he finally was able to get a crew together to do the job last Thursday through Sunday, including track designer Chick Schumilas of Kitchener-based Tracks by Chick.
“He’s built this track in such a way that it appeals to the novice rider and the pro,” Scheibler said of Schumilas, who has been involved in motocross for the past 13 years and even sets up tracks for the Canadian Motorsport Racing Association’s national championships.
“It’s in-between,” he added. “It’s got some good challenges for the pro, but not too challenging that it scares off the young guys and they can’t learn.”
“We’ve got a sand trap, we’ve got obstacles, we’ve got places where you open up, places where you have to slow down,” Scheibler noted.
“It’s going to rock and roll,” enthused Schumilas. “It’s made with awesome materials. It’s got a lot of top-soil on it. It’s got a mixture of clay in it, and Mike’s got the right equipment to groom it.
“It’s a general-use track, which means your average person can ride out here and have a lot of fun.
“There’s nothing that’s really going to hurt them unless they screw up,” added Schumilas. “And there’s a couple jumps that are set up for the pros.
“It’s a good lap-time track—about two minutes,” he continued. “You will get tons of exercise out here. You’ll be able to do some serious riding.
“It should be really decent. The kids should have a lot of fun.”
Schumilas said motocross racing is great exercise.
“You’d really be surprised if you’d put in even one lap on a bike, if you’re not experienced or haven’t rode in a while, you wouldn’t believe the arm-pumping you get when you ride,” he said.
“It gets your cardio system just going.”
“[The motocross track] is going to help the whole district. People want to race,” said Scheibler. “This is a new sport, it’s taking off like NASCAR. It’s an incredible family-oriented sport.”
“It’s growing like crazy,” agreed Schumilas, adding the sport has been marketed excellently in Canada and then exported to the U.S., where it’s shown on sports channels.
Both also expressed confidence in the possibility the district track even may be ready to host a national competition in merely a couple years.
“This is going to be a regional track, where riders will get points in the CMRC standings,” said Scheibler. “Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to host a national event. That’s why the track is being built the way it is.
“And ‘Chick’ [Schumilas] will come in a change the obstacles to challenge the top-ranked riders, like Sebastian Roy,” added Scheibler, referring to the five-time world motocross champ.
“You could almost hold a national here at this point,” agreed Schumilas. “Within two years of coming back, and making things different, bigger as we go, it will be an insane place.
“He [Scheibler] will have one of the best tracks in this whole area, right out to Regina. It can be that successful,” added Schumilas. “He’s gong to be set up to accommodate a 600-man race. It’ll all run like clockwork.
“Once you get into the regionals, and then you have a national race here, it will bring in a million dollars to the town, which only enhances the whole thing for everybody,” he said.
“Anyone who jumps on board with this effort will benefit. You’d be amazed at the revenue it brings in,” stressed Schumilas, adding non-profit clubs also benefit by becoming involved with setting up food booths and the like.
“We’re also looking for sponsors, like Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, that have sponsored other tracks, and other things, to come on board once they’ve seen what we’ve done,” said Scheibler.
“Hopefully, I’ll recoup some of my costs. I gotta cut a lot of wood this winter to pay for all this,” he chuckled.
The track has cost around $100,000 to construct.
Also working at the site over the weekend was Rick Stanley, president of the Atikokan Motocross Racing Association, who wholeheartedly supported the new track.
“Right now, Atikokan is the only track in Northwestern Ontario. We need more so we can set up a circuit,” he remarked. “We’re getting worn out hosting the only races right now.
“If we could get three tracks and run a circuit, it would give some people a rest.
“It definitely helps boost the popularity of the sport, too,” added Stanley. “We have people from Sault Ste. Marie, Longlac, Winnipeg, Kenora, Minnesota—they all love coming [to Northwestern Ontario].”
Stanley said he just wants to see motocross get up and get going.
“My son’s a motocross racer and he’s [darned] good. So if we can get more tracks for him to ride on, the better,” he enthused.
Stanley revealed he has to go to Thunder Bay three times a week for dialysis, and it’s possible he may not be alive next year—all the better reason for him to come out and help on-site this past weekend.
“It breaks the routine of having to go to Thunder Bay every three days for dialysis. I’m having a lot of fun,” he remarked.
Scheibler noted he wants to have “rumble strip” or “tabletop” on the track dedicated in Stanley’s memory.
“I just humbles me to think a man would come out and want to leave a legacy like this,” Scheibler said as he watched Stanley used heavy machinery to pile dirt.
In addition to the jumps and other features one might expect from a motocross track, it also has areas for spectators, pit crews, TV crews, and media—and even an offshoot track for four-wheelers, full of mud and water.
The track eventually will feature an additional “tike track” for the very young riders.
Scheibler also plans on building 20 storage units for vehicles. That way, people can rent them to store their motorbikes and ATVs at the track, rather than having to tow them there all the time.
He noted there’s many things he has to do before officially opening the track next spring, such as getting volunteers, hiring a manager to run it, contacting service clubs and other non-profit groups to run concessions, and more.
But Scheibler stressed the track is ready for use this week, and encouraged motocross riders to come out and try it in order to get their input.
To get there, head down Off Lake Road from Emo, turn west on McNally Road and follow that to the end, then turn north onto Elliott Road. The track is at the end.
Anyone wanting more information can contact Scheibler at 482-2913.
< *c>Family recreation
The new motocross track actually is just a part of the property Scheibler has been developing as a family recreation area. “We want to have something for the family, that’s affordable, fun, educational and relaxing,” he remarked.
Aside from the track, a significant part of that land is covered by the Tamjack Golf Course, which features 10 holes ranging from par-threes to par-fives.
“We’re a little different out here. Why not 10?” Scheibler replied when asked why the course didn’t have nine or 18 holes.
The course features water hazards, trees, and even large rocks to provide a challenge to golf fanatics, among whom Scheibler numbers himself.
There also is a driving range and putting green.
The course is completed at this time, but some aspects of it, like some patches of grass, still need to be given time to grow in.
But the course will be open for business next spring, with a grand-opening ceremony planned for Aug. 2, 2006.
The family recreation area also includes campsites, areas for picnics, and seven miles of trails for four-wheelers, walking, and hiking. An archery range also may be set up next year.
The whole area—motocross track, golf course, and everything else—all are tied together by a sense of respect for nature and family values, said Scheibler, noting he’s both a devout Christian and a member of the North American Wildlife Rehabilitation Association.
“This whole corner of property is a wildlife sanctuary, first and foremost,” he said.
In fact, it’s common for deer and bears to come on his property and be met with a hearty meal waiting for them. There even will be an area set up for the public to observe these animals.
“It’s going to be nature-friendly,” Scheibler stressed. “I actually want this property to create revenue for the wildlife. People are going to be able to enjoy, in safety, wildlife and have some fun.
They can go hiking, swimming, trail-riding. And now, if they’ve got a 6,000 horsepower thing, they can let her go!” he added.