If it’s excitement you’re after, there is no better place to be this weekend than Utah Motorsports Campus.
The track is playing host to MotoAmerica’s Championship of Utah, with the top motorcycle racers in North America taking to the facility’s East Course – a 15-turn, 2.2-mile track that poses a truly formidable test. In a sport where the smallest mistake can spell disaster, the margin for error is even smaller on such a challenging course.
These guys are the very best at what they do, leaning into the corners fractions of an inch from the track surface at high speed and somehow maintaining their balance, all while trying to fend off competitors doing the same thing only inches away. Riders like Cameron Beaubier, Toni Elias and JD Beach have mad a name for themselves at UMC over the years, and they’ll all be back this weekend looking to add to their already-illustrious resumes.
Local race fans will also get to see some familiar faces. Several racers who will be racing in the Stock 1000 and Liqui Moly Junior Cup classes have competed in the Utah Sport Bike Association’s events at UMC over the years, including Oleg Pianykh, Sean Thomas, Sherwick Min and Justin Delong in Stock 1000 and Gauge Rees and Grayson Davidson in Junior Cup.
But beyond the action on the track, there is something to be said for the fan experience in general when it comes to motorsports. In all my years around sports at all levels, I’d be hard-pressed to find any athletes more accessible and down-to-earth than professional racers. This weekend includes rider meet-and-greets and autograph sessions, and fans can walk through the paddock area and see the bikes up close and personal.
Try getting that close to your favorite Jazz player. If you’re lucky enough to be able to afford an expensive ticket next to the tunnel leading to the Jazz locker room at Vivint Smart Home Arena, you might get a high-five. At UMC during a race weekend, you have racers happily posing for selfies with fans and striking up conversations. That’s how you make a kid’s day right there, and a fan for life.
And now we can look forward to many more weekends like this one in the years to come, now that UMC’s sale is complete. There is stability now on Sheep Lane, and optimism for the future to go with it. Just since I’ve been coming to UMC, the facility has drawn some of the biggest names in motorsports to Tooele County, including budding NASCAR Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and action-sports legends Ken Block and Travis Pastrana along with the MotoAmerica stars.
There’s a lot to look forward to, this weekend and into the future. Welcome back, racers and race fans.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He is in awe of the MotoAmerica riders’ abilities. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.