Scratching The Itch To Race
Photos by Justin Lundin and SnM Media
Coming off summer break, I felt the need to get out and race again before my primary series, the AMA District 37 Big6 Grand Prix Series. I noticed the WORCS Series was being held at Glen Helen Raceway, the week before the Big6 event, which is my home track. Glen Helen is one of my favorite tracks as it doesn’t focus on littering the course with jumps but more with the natural elevation changes it offers. It has some fun off-road riding with the single track atop the ridges, rocky and technical downhills and canyons, as well as fast sand washes. Deciding that the WORCS race would be a good practice, I prepped my bike and headed off the next morning.
I arrived early Saturday morning and found parking to be scarce at the WORCS race, which is good for the promoters as it means a plethora of racers have showed up. After finding a parking spot, I went over to sign in. I was impressed with their sign-up rig that shows up at every race. It looks very professional and makes the process a lot easier. Following the sign-up process, I got ready and headed to the start line. Racing 125A, I was on the 3rd row. I was surprised to see how many 450A, 250A, and 125A riders that had showed up. At a Big6 race, these lines are usually fairly small in comparison which creates less competition.
After watching the first 2 rows leave, I noticed at the end of the Talladega first turn seemed to be a nasty kicker which posed a safety hazard. Sure enough, I reached the end of the turn and found a row of dirt from a tractor sitting there and kicked me a fair amount. Another observation I made while racing was their watering. They had over watered much of the track which made for very slippery track conditions. Although it was slippery and muddy, I prefer this to a dust bowl of a track which makes racing a lot worse. As far as the layout goes, it was fairly basic with the National track, REM MX track, trophy truck course, and “Bud’s Creek”, which is a short and rocky single track through the trees.
Having finished 5th in 125A, I qualified for Pro2 Lights race on Sunday which excited me.
On Sunday morning, I showed up to Glen Helen again and got ready for the race. But first, my dad decided to race the 40A class. I looked down the line only to see 2 riders including my dad. At a Big6 race, this is always the biggest race of the weekend with 20-30 heavyweights and lightweights in the expert class. I concluded that WORCS attracts the younger riders with more of a moto style course while Big6 attracts the old school guys that like staying closer to the ground most of the time. Also, as the rows started taking off, I witnessed 20-30 people standing on one of the jumps that was being utilized during the race. Again, these bigger jumps may be another safety concern that isn’t common at a more off-road oriented course at Big6 race.
Observing the race, I also noticed that WORCS had few course workers watching over the race or flagging some of the key areas. For example, I watched multiple riders crash in one turn and only spectators were there to help. Also, when the race finished, one of my friends had just come off the track and the next race was already starting. This also made me think about safety as at a Big6 race. They have “sweep” riders who clear the course following the checkered flag to make sure everyone gets in safe and to look for any dangers throughout the course.
Before the race WORCS held a mandatory riders meeting which I liked. They described the course changes–they changed the rather short course to a longer, more technical course which tested the abilities of every rider in the race. This was another positive as it spiced things up a bit for the Pro riders and improved the fun factor. In addition, they allowed everyone to complete a parade lap to see all the changes. On the parade lap, everything went smoothly until we reached the chopped wood section on the endurocross course. There was 3-4 rows of riders stacked up waiting to test the pit but everyone who attempted it got stuck. Trying to speed things up, they had a few of us go around and finish the rest of the course. In addition to the other course changes, they added a special Pro pits which was two straightaways where you could go as fast as you want. I liked the idea of setting up a special pits which presents well to sponsors and racing teams.
During the race, everything went well and I had a great time. The WORCS crew did a great job with the course layout and adding in the challenging sections which was a huge positive for me. Lastly, the WORCS Pro race is a true Pro race in which you have to qualify to get in. This eliminates pretty much any rider who wouldn’t belong in the race from participating. This has its pros and cons. It’s good because it makes the race safer and it allows them to change the course and make it more challenging with Pro level sections. However, many people enjoy racing for 2 hours and if they can’t qualify, they aren’t able to do so. Also, if you have a mechanical or something happens in the qualification race, this eliminates you from competing and could hurt you when chasing points.
Now I’ll compare WORCS to the Big6 race. I will compare it to round 3 of the AMA District 37 Big6 GP series which took place at Glen Helen in early March. When arriving to a Big6 race, there is a full vendor row with 10+ sponsors selling product and advertising. This is quite a few more than I noticed at the WORCS race. Sign-ups are different too. Since each race is individually hosted by a different club, different people are always in charge which makes it hard to get familiar with the faces in charge and there are different opinions by the crew working sign ups. However, when you sign up, you buy a transponder which you can then use for years which helps cut down on the cost of racing in the future.
Now onto the racing. Big6 allows every racer to race multiple times during the day/weekend with its schedule. WORCS combines many classes into one race to allow for the multiple UTV/ATV races held over the weekend. For example, Big6 allows a 40+ rider to race unclassified, vet, and the WCGP all on Saturday with a second unclassified, senior race, and the 125-450 race on Sunday. That’s a total of 6 races in one weekend for someone of this age group. Now at WORCS, the same racer can only race twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. This could be one of the factors that goes into more age class racers racing Big6 over WORCS. For the Big6 race, it utilized both MX tracks, truck course, and the entire West ridge along with the rocky “Boyscout” downhill. This was more of an off-road course compared to WORCS with a much longer lap time and less time spent on the MX tracks. Additionally, there are course workers throughout the entire course watering, flagging, and assisting the riders if needed. Big6 clubs are also ready to fix any dangerous sections on the course in between races which is always a plus. Also, after every race, there is a sweep crew riding the course and following the last rider to make sure they get in safe.
At a Big6 race the Pro/Expert/Intermediate WCGP, there are a wide range of skills from Pros to vet intermediates which can make it difficult for the Pros when they are racing for money. Also, it doesn’t look like a true Pro race when so many amateurs are racing at the same time. Yet when looking down the 125 expert line, there are normally no more than 5-6 racers which can be disappointing. These are my observations after experiencing both a WORCS race and a Big6 race at the same venue. I enjoyed both of these races since anytime riding a motorcycle is a good time. Once the helmet is on and you are in the midst of a battle, it will all feel the same and you’ll be smiling from ear to ear.
Now, we’re going to look at the cost of racing each series as many people consider this a big factor when deciding to race a series. Because WORCS travels all over the West coast to unique locations, there is a lot of driving required to hit all the stops. After totaling up the distance to each event from Orange, California, the total driving distance is around 6,394 miles to drive to each race and back. Since Big6 stays more local in Southern California with a round in Primm, NV on the state line, the total driving distance is only 1,882 miles. That is a staggering difference cost wise as you have to drive over 3 times as much to race the entire WORCS series. Additionally, WORCS offers a very good deal when racing your first WORCS race; any racer gets 50% off their first entry fee if they’ve never raced before. This lowers the standard entry fee from $50 to $25. Big6 also offers a discount: if you pay for 3 races, you get a 4th race free which includes family members. For example, if a dad races 3 races and has 2 sons that race 3 races each, that totals to 2 free entries. Below I have included a table which shows all the costs of entering a race.
Also, both Big6 and WORCS offer a pro purse. Big6 has a minimum of $2000 divided between the top 3 Pro and top 3 Pro2 racers at each race. In addition, Big6 offers $2000 each to the Pro and Pro2 champion at the end of the year. WORCS’ pro purse pays out $2000 to the top 3 racers in the Pro class only at each round.
- Big6 has more competition for older riders
- Big6 offers more opportunities to race
- Big6 has safety as a top concern
- Big6 has more off-road oriented courses
- Big6 stays mostly in Southern California which is more cost effective
- WORCS has more competition for younger riders
- WORCS has a true pro race
- WORCS travels all over the West coast which provides different scenery/race venues
- WORCS sign-up is easy
- WORCS doesn’t have safety as high as a priority
- WORCS lacks some competition for older riders
- Big6 sign-up can be difficult at times
- Big6 pro race has a wide range of skill levels racing at once