Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS – The roar and crackle of dirt bike engines echoed through the grandstands as the crowd cheered and racers rocketed around the dirt horse track Saturday, Aug 5 for the Inaugural Humboldt Half Mile Motorcycle Flat Track Race.
It was a loud and exciting action-packed evening, and a first for Humboldt County.
This was the first time that Humboldt’s horse racing track in Ferndale has ever been used for a motorcycle race, according to Randy Kremlacek, the CEO of the California Flat Track Association, which organized the event.
Kremlacek said that his company plans to make the race an annual happening here on the North Coast.
Although he did not have a crowd estimate, Kremlacek looked up at the grandstands and said “the crowd turnout exceeded our expectations.”
The beer flowed from taps, and hot dogs flew off the grill as attendees enjoyed 36 races featuring men and women, children and senior citizens, most on motorcycles, but some on quads.
There was even a race featuring riders from the Benevolent Portuguese Brotherhood and Touring Club of Willows on vintage Honda Trail 90s, a small step-through motorcycle that was popular in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.
Two of the Honda putt-putts conked out at the start, as the others whizzed through the dirt, their riders crouched down as the announcer joked about disco balls and the “revenge of the 90s” for the light-hearted event.
The main event, though, was the final race, a 15-lap sprint with a prize purse of $3,500.
Michael Inderbitzin, 22, of Hollister got off to a slow start, but soon surged ahead of the competition, took the lead and stayed there.
Race fans who stood near the guardrail were sprayed with dirt clods as Inderbitzin and the other racers roared by and headed for the turns, where hay bails lined the rails in the case of an accident.
Racers appeared to approach the turns with wild abandon, one foot down as their bikes sometimes wobbled and appeared to be close to toppling, but there were no crashes on this foggy night.
Inderbitzin came terrifyingly close to a hay bail as he came out of a turn in the second to final lap, wobbling a bit before he got his steed back under control.
He continued to maintain a commanding lead over second-place finisher Hunter Brooks, 14, of Escalon and third-place finisher Chris McDougal, 28, of Salinas. The crowd cheered as Inderbitzin popped a wheelie and dashed over the finish line. Brraaap!
“It’s always amazing to win a race,” said Inderbitzin, who claimed $1,400 for his efforts. Other racers received lesser amounts.
“I pretty much worked the highline,” said the beaming winner. “The track is awesome. It suits my style.”