There’s that old saying that goes, “first impressions are everything,” and as I drove up to Adelanto Stadium in the high desert of Adelanto, California my first impression was, “Wow! Where did all these dirt bikes and race rigs come from?” I had heard the Big 6 West Coast Grand Prix Series has been growing and getting more and more riders as of late, but I certainly didn’t expect what I saw when I rolled up. Vehicles parked everywhere, vendors peddling their wares, and the entire facility a beehive of activity. One extraordinary first impression.
After parking near the pro pits, I tracked down Big 6 Marketing Manager Scott Perkins and he gave me a quick tour of the facility. As we walked we talked about the unique race course and Scott explained all of the various festivities going on like live music and RC car racing. Scott also mentioned they had close to 600 riders pre-entered. I was surprised by the number until Scott mentioned it was typical for 25% of the total entries to be from pre-entry, the rest sign-up on race day. Which meant the total number for the weekend could be close to 2,400 entries! An impressive turnout for any race.
Adelanto Stadium couldn’t be a better location for an offroad race. Easy to get to right off a main highway, paved parking and pit areas, stadium seating for spectators—and even real bathrooms. Vendors row, which is more like a mash-up of a music festival, trade show, and state fair was huge. I’d never seen so many vendors in one location at a dirt bike race, and evidently, anyone who pays a vendor’s fee is allowed to setup and display at Big 6 events. The more, the merrier, right? Food choices were excellent, and on Saturday I enjoyed a made-to-order brick oven pizza that was tasty. And did I mention 805 Beer is on site? This one-of-a-kind race is as spectator-friendly as they come.
There were two Unclassified races on Friday, and I was surprised to see pro riders out spinning laps, shaking down their motorcycles, and scoping out the track. It was a bonus to see riders like Eric Yorba, Justin Seeds, and Gary Sutherlin on their new rides and new gear setups. The Unclassified races are unique in that they are essentially unlimited, meaning anyone can ride them. Vet riders mix together with 85cc and pro riders alike on the same course. An interesting mix to say the least.
After the Unclassified races on Friday, I headed to Kris Keefer‘s house about 20 minutes away where they kindly let me stay for the weekend. On the way, I stopped off to purchase all the fixings for a Saturday night chili feed at the Keefer household and some Supercross on TV. Not only was I going to witness one of the coolest offroad races I’ve ever been to on Saturday, but afterward I was going to hang out with good people, eat chili, and watch more racing on television. An absolute win-win for this guy.
Saturday, I woke up to a bluebird day and I thought to myself how pleasant California winters are in the high desert. I could just tell it was going to be a perfect day for racing. Saturday was the big day for the pro races, and as I drove back to Adelanto Stadium, I wondered who was going to win the King and Queen of Adelanto titles. With one of the most stacked field of pros ever to kick off the Big 6 series, there was a buzz in the pits about the riders signed up to do battle. Along with 2017 champ Zach Bell, was 2016 champ Eric Yorba, new Rockstar Husqvarna factory rider Dalton Shirey, JCR Honda's Trevor Stewart, 2017 NHHA and WORCS champion Gary Sutherlin, two-time King of Adelanto Blayne Thompson, and multi-time GNCC champion Kailub Russell. Talk about a stacked field! The big news was Kailub Russell coming from the East Coast to race in an unfamiliar series. Obviously, Russell doesn’t have to race this series, he has a good thing going in GNCC, but he decided to take on a new challenge and push himself into unfamiliar territory, which is something I admire. It’s also something his fellow racers appreciate because the series will attract more attention this year as a result.
With the WCGP Pro race scheduled for 2:30 PM, the stage was set for the 2018 King of Adelanto showdown. As I walked around the pits talking to various riders and their crews, I was once again impressed by how friendly people are at offroad races. This is not a motocross race. Offroad pros openly talk to one another, hang out in each other’s pits, and genuinely like each other. No stink eye, no cold shoulder, no hiding in their big rig away from the public. Offroad racing is accessible and for the most part anyone can participate.
The Adelanto Grand Prix is certainly a unique event within the Big 6 Series, and one of the coolest things about the event is that each race starts on a paved road. Adelanto Road to be exact. Each row takes up the entire road from berm to berm, and at the drop of the flag, each row rockets down Adelanto Road for about 300 yards then hangs a left onto the dirt course. The track itself is a combination of high-speed and low-speed sections with some man-made obstacles thrown in to make it even more challenging. Each lap before the finish riders drop into Adelanto Stadium, make a loop through the infield where the finish line is, then exit the stadium and back onto the infield motocross section.
With goosebumps fully engaged and the hair on the back of my neck standing up, the 20+ rider WCGP Pro class launched off the line to the cheers of the spectators lining Adelanto Road. Trevor Stewart shot out to the lead followed by Eric Yorba and Dalton Shirey while two-time King of Adelanto Blayne Thompson hit the deck and lost any chance he had for a three-peat. Stewart put his head down and never looked back to lead the entire 90-minute race for his first ever Big 6 win and the 2018 King of Adelanto title. Dalton Shirey moved past Eric Yorba for second with Yorba hanging on for third. Justin Seeds charged through the pack to fourth, and Kailub Russell was an impressive fifth on the high-speed course. Lap times averaged about 12 minutes with Dalton Shirey turning the fastest lap of the race at 11:15. In Pro 2 action Clay Hengeveld mimicked Trevor Stewart as he led every lap of the race for a dominant win, while in the Pro Women’s class Kacy Martinez Coy took the win to lock-in the Queen of Adelanto title.
I stayed to watch the podium presentations and realized my Big 6 experience was just about over. It was a quick trip down from Boise but well worth it. The pro race was exciting and the event as spectator-friendly as an offroad race can be. The Big 6 is on to something with its cool race format and fun course layouts. It’s obvious from the number of entries they are getting the series is doing things right. So, if you’re looking for an offroad race to add to your bucket list, check out the Big 6 West Coast Grand Prix Series. You won’t be disappointed, especially when you find the brick-oven pizza guy.
2018 Adelanto Grand Prix Bonus Photo Gallery
[Click on any image to see the enlarged version.]