By Clarence Plank
Engines rev and hum as drivers pump accelerators anxiously wait for the light to snap green. Dirt flies when the light changes, racers tearing off in their cars toward the finish line at the other side of the track.
It is dirt track racing time in eastern New Mexico.
Ray Reeser of Clovis is the general manager of sports complex at Ned Houk Motor Sports Complex in Curry County, where cars and motocross dirt bike racing happens the last Sunday of each month.
“The weekly racing was dying and nobody realized it,” Reeser said “I went to the Ned Houk Motor Sports board about arenacross and I told the members that the track has to make money, good money to be able to keep it going. We needed something like arenacross so we got a hold of a guy who does motocross tracks and he built a track in the infield.”
Reeser said a year later he went to see a race in Las Cruces and decided it was time to bring some of those cars to the Clovis track.
An usual feature at the Clovis races: Fans in the stands and drivers throw eggs and water balloons at each other during the race.
The cars race for 200 laps or about two hours. But if there isn’t any red flags then they will do an intermission and have a children’s candy race while the pit crew work on the cars, Reeser said.
Reeser said there is a no-throwing section for people who don’t want to get egged or splashed from water balloons, but there are very few people who sit there.
“The neat thing about this is that general admission is $6,” Reeser said. “It’s two hours of pandemonium. I don’t know if you can imagine 120 dozen eggs, which is what we sold and people were bringing in their own to throw. It is just a huge melee.”
He said he had to specify water balloons were only to be filled with clear water. This because a driver crashed after he was hit in the face with a balloon filled with water-based paint.
Charity events are another feature at the races. Recently, the track held a fundraiser for Jared LaRue, who developed a blood disorder. Reeser said he is planning more fundraisers.
The Dixon Motocross track near Portales is a family affair.
The Dixon family got into motocross because of their children. Dustin Dixon decided to make a homemade track for his wife Tonya and their children to practice on and it just grew.
Co-owner Tonya Dixon said they have added new things this year. They built bathrooms and staging areas for riders.
“We change the track all the time nearly every race,” Dixon said. “The race we had two weekends ago was what we call the Ponca City qualifier.
“There is a big national in Ponca City, Okla., where you have to go to local tracks that hold races and kids have to place in a certain position to qualify.”
The track is drawing competitors from a variety of states, including Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas and California. They also conduct racing classes for 4 year-olds up to adult, said Dixon. Recently, the Dixons started renting a track in Moriarty for occasional races.
“It has been going really well,” Dixon said.
As for the track near Portales, “Our next race is June 12 and then the very next weekend we’re having a benefit race for Jared LaRue, who was from this area,” Dixon said.
Dixon said the June 12-13 weekend is the first round of the eight-race season. Racers can start building points for a awards banquet at the end of the season.