Whether it’s the annual Bit n’ Spur Rodeo, Country Fan Fest, the Tooele County Fair or any of a number of other events throughout the year, Tooele County knows how to roll out the red carpet — and it knows how to throw a party.
This weekend at Utah Motorsports Campus promises to be no different, as high-speed motorcycle road racing makes its way to town, as has been tradition since the track opened in 2006. MotoAmerica’s annual visit to Utah has become a summer staple, and it seems like the perfect way to kick off another exciting two months of racing action.
Now, I get that motorsports isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The drone of racing engines piercing an otherwise-quiet summer afternoon might be like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. The traffic along Sheep Lane and state Route 110 could be unbearable to others.
But for race fans — myself included — there’s no place I’d rather be in the summer. And why is that?
Let me list a few reasons:
• The sights: All those brightly colored, highly modified, expertly tuned racing bikes, and their accompanying riders, make for quite a spectacle. Even better? The way these guys mingle with their fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures. Try getting that kind of access to your favorite Jazz player. Not going to happen. And, oh, by the way, watch them push their bikes and bodies to the absolute limit in pursuit of victory. You can’t help but respect an athlete who literally puts their very well-being at stake once every couple seconds.
• The sounds: You know how I mentioned the drone of racing engines that can be heard from houses in Grantsville during a UMC race weekend? That’s music to my ears, as well as to the ears of any race fan. Even from my seat in the (air-conditioned!) media center overlooking the start-finish line, the sound of all those racing engines at high throttle brings a level of anticipation. It’s even more of a thrill for those sitting in the grandstands, where it’s many times louder.
• The smells: I’m not just talking about the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers coming from the concession stand — though I’m not going to deny that’s a big part of the UMC experience. No, I’m talking about the smell of burning rubber, gasoline and oil that any race fan is familiar with. These racers make it look so easy on TV, but the reality is that racing is anything but. It’s hot, sweaty, grimy, greasy, brutal work. It’s a test of both man and machine. And, yet, they do it all with smiles on their faces. There’s no place they’d rather be than a race track on a summer weekend.
The fans feel the exact same way. Welcome back, racing season. We’re happy to see you again.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. You can count him among the ones who are thrilled that racing action is back at UMC again this summer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.