In an age when people tweet by the gigahertz and friends swap digital memories by the terabyte, hurling yourself around a quarter-mile dirt track 16 seconds per lap may seem downright quaint. Fortunately, there are still men in this world who believe you can't spell A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N without R-A-C-I-N'. One such group of happy Luddites are the staff and crew at the Southern California Flat Track Association.
The SCFTA hosts good old-fashioned dirt track racing on their recently rebuilt quarter-mile oval 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles in a town called Perris. Perris is adjacent to Lake Elsinore, another dusty whistle stop rich with motorsports history in California's Inland Empire. It was here around 1970 where Bruce Brown shot many famous scenes for his docudrama "On Any Sunday." Don't quote me on it, but some of the greybeard badasses Bill and I watched drag hotshoes around Perris last August might very well have diced with Mert Lawill and King Kenny in that cinematic magnum opus. To put it bluntly, these guys were old. And old, it would seem, is what modern dirt trackers aspire to.
Lowering a contemporary 4-stroke MX machine for high-tech dirt tracking makes perfect sense, and plenty of such animals were on hand in Perris to put on a show. Surprisingly, however, a good number of new-school cats seemed equally committed to prowling on vintage iron. We saw BSA's, Triumphs, Bultacos, TT500's and Harleys of every era and technical pedigree backing it around the SCFTA course during the event's three-hour program.
The SoCal dirt track scene appears to be a symbiotic ecosystem, with buyers and sellers swapping machinery from season to season. Our friend Eric "Third" Ryke picked up his Yamaha for less than three large, then spent another couple hundred getting her up to snuff for his competive debut. With entry fees at 50 bucks per class, Eric was ecstatic about his investment, and even more so when he landed on the podium in his very first race.
Of course, SoCal isn't the only place where local dirt track scenes thrive. ChopCult member GreaserMike started a popular thread about the flat track scene in NY and New England last year, and gives great illustrated advice for anyone who wants to give the sport a try.
We've poached some of Mike's flat track resources here for your reference:
Thanks to Errol and company at the Southern California Flat Track Association for hosting local races. For more information, visit their website or click the links from Greaser Mike's story shown above.