Supercross comes back to Los Angeles.
In 2011, the AMA Supercross Series, officially known as the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, an FIM World Championship, returns to the Los Angeles market. And the venue? Historic Dodger Stadium, thanks to the efforts of Feld Motor Sports and Dodger Stadium management.
This will be the first time a supercross race has ever been held at Dodger Stadium, which is primarily a baseball stadium. Feld Motor Sports, the organizers of the 2011 Supercross Series, gave the media an inside look at some of what goes on behind the scenes to put on a supercross race. It was also a look behind the scenes of historic Dodger Stadium.
Feld and Dodger Stadium management began communicating about this race over one year ago, so this event is already one year in the making.
Dodger’s CRO Michael Young, who rides and is a big fan of supercross, spoke at the podium about the thrill he experienced at the first supercross he ever attended. Mr. Young volunteered to be a flagman at the 1984 AMA Supercross at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. He was excited! He was going to see a supercross up close! But, as he soon learned, a flag man spends most of him time with his back to the action, instead of looking and listening for any incidents to wave the yellow flag.
Mr. Young was presented with a 2011 commemorative supercross jersey, and promises to watch this race in a good viewing area!
There isn’t any stadium in the world that is ‘purpose built’ just to
hold a supercross. Each and every venue presents unique challenges to
put on a motor sports event! From parking to infrastructure to
operations to even communicating with local police.
Certainly it is a big challenge to put dirt on the historic Dodger
Stadium field. The grass turf at Dodger Stadium is known as one of the
best, if not the best, surface in MLB (Major League Baseball).
So how much dirt
does it take to build a full on supercross track? For Dodger Stadium,
Feld will bring in 550 truckloads of dirt. Dirt is important! And,
believe it or not, quite expensive!
Feld Motor Sports’ Dave Prater, Director of Supercross, goes thru the process of determining whether a specific venue can hold a supercross. A natural grass stadium normally has a substantial ‘sub surface.’ It’s not only the grass, but a lot of stuff underneath, including sand and the irrigation system. Dodger Stadium in particular has a very detailed sub surface. The cost of the baseball field? 4 million dollars.
It’s actually a challenge for both Feld and the Dodger Stadium staff in getting the field surface ready. The outcome at the end of a supercross event is that the field remains 100% intact!
From a rider’s perspective on racing at a new venue, seven time supercross race winner in the 2010 AMA Supercross Series Ryan Villopoto was on hand to speak about it. RV said the main thing as a rider coming into a new venue is the dirt. Is it tacky? It is sandy? Is it slippery? Is it hard pack? Ryan expects the dirt for the Dodger Stadium event to be just fine. On a side note Ryan mentioned that he has hired Aldon Baker as his new trainer.
Both Dave Prater and Todd Jendro, Senior Director of Operations Feld Motor Sports, continued with informing us about how events get put together.
Putting on a supercross race at a venue they have done many times before (including: San Diego, Anaheim, Las Vegas, etc..) has become very close to ‘turn key’. The stadium staff knows them and they know the stadium staff. There is a great level of trust and the stadium staff understands that Feld knows how to put on the event as smoothly as possible.
But in coming to a new venue, such as Dodger Stadium – the entire process is brand new. And there are many, many issues to address including: pits, press, TV, the dirt, logistics, storage, scoring, parking and more.
We went into the area that is literally the ‘heart beat’ of activity on race day – The press area. Officially called “The Vin Scully Press Box” it was named after the legendary Dodgers baseball announcer Vin Scully. Questions that Dave must ask in assessing whether a venue will be suitable or not: is there enough space? Can it handle VIPs? Is there areas that will be suitable for Feld personnel offices? The Feld staff does many things from there, which includes timing, scoring, TV, spotters for safety, communications with EVERYONE, even local police to help determine traffic conditions.
Safety is another big issue. There are three spotters up above, and they can communicate with all the staff on the ground, which includes flaggers and medical staff. The spotters act as ‘eyes in the sky’, and they are able to see things that staff on the ground might not be able to see. All combined, it makes for better safety conditions for all, especially the riders.
Regarding the actual grass and floor of the stadium, there must be a ‘balance’. The Groundskeeper wants the field to stay pristine. Yet Feld has a job to do, which is design the best supercross track possible.
There is also a safety issue which is very important in building a track. Feld has to determine which seats cannot be used by fans because of safety reasons. When configured for this upcoming supercross, Dodger Stadium will seat 51,000 people.
The Pits are actually designed and ‘built’ first with a sophisticated 3D CAD program. Some of the considerations that must be taken in designing and putting the pits together? How will the egress and ingress go? Could there be ‘walking traffic’ blockages as thousands of fans are walking thru the pits? And this design must be submitted to the Fire Marshall for approval.
The Fire Marshall has a lot of authority. It’s a very important issue that Feld must address at each event.
Kawasaki brought one of their Team Transporter semi trucks for us to see and understand how their team and truck functions. The 18 wheel semi truck is literally a race shop on wheels – and more! It has an office and kitchen as well!
Eric Hansen is the man responsible for the field at Dodger Stadium – The Groundskeeper. The field is ‘his baby’. For the supercross race, the grass turf will be covered for a period of time long enough to kill the grass. So what’s the solution to that? The entire sod and grass will be replaced after the race!
Eric is confident in Feld’s handling of all this, because he has talked with his peers at other stadium venues, and he knows the experience of Feld in such matters.
Feld Motor Sports puts on many events during the year. Here on Supercross.com you can see the 2011 Supercross schedule, of which they produce every event except the Daytona event.
But Feld puts on many more events than you might know!
Ever hear of Arenacross? http://www.arenacross.com
How about Nuclear Cowboyz? (it’s Freestyle Motocross, but much, much more!) http://www.nuclearcowboyz.com
How about Monster Jam? Yes, Feld produces Monster Jam events! http://www.monsterjam.com
And the Supercross race at Dodger Stadium? January 22nd, 2011. Be there!!!