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Located in "the thumb" about 30 Miles East of Bay City and right on M25 is the MPX Racing Track. It's a combination of topsoil, clay, and mixed sand into the man made racing surface. Owned and operated by Craig and Karen MacPhee the track is a popular place among the east side MX and ATV community with regular turnouts of 300+ entries. MIMX talked to Craig about the track, family and the sport.
MIMX: Craig thanks for doing this, we know you’re a busy guy, give us a brief history on the track, when you got it and why. Craig: The track was initially built and ran by the Claerhouts from 2000 through 2012. Joe knew we were avid riders and it was something we enjoyed as a family. He approached us with the idea of us buying it in 2011. Karen and I thought we could make a go of it, so we jumped in with both feet so to speak.
MIMX: There are a lot of tracks in Michigan to choose from, what do you feel is the biggest draw for your track? Craig: We have NEVER ran a race or a practice without flaggers at every critical point and EMS on site. We will never cut corners to save a dollar. Our kids ride in this track as well, and we value everyone when it comes to safety. At MPX, we have never charged a membership fee. All of our jumps and track design have been thoroughly thought out and tested for safety long before the first rider from the general public shows up. Most of our jumps are table tops where you can air it out, or, roll them safely without getting landed on. What got us into riding and racing at MPX before ever buying it was the affordability and the way it was designed to be as safe as possible. We tried to continue this tradition.
MIMX: MPX has a loyal following of Quads, Minis and Big bike riders, is it the track being mellow, promotion, or something else?
Craig: We believe most people who come to MPX just like to ride. Once people realize they aren't going pro, and their kids aren't, they have more fun. We emphasize the FUN. Riders at our place don't have to ride over their head to compete. They can ride within their comfort zone and usually have someone to compete with. There are classes for everyone from different ages to skill levels. The cost is a big factor too. We do what we can to keep it affordable while still keeping our gates open.
MIMX: MPX has a strong relationship with WPS/Fly Racing, with both contributing to $ moto's several races during the year, tell us a little about that relationship and the way the money motos work. Craig: We are blessed to have Fly/WPS believe in our program. I first met our Rep Rob Rowles when I was part of a local dealership. He believed in us and our concept and helped us along the way. We promote Fly and they help us. Other companies have approached us, but, we are loyal to those who are loyal to us. A handshake means something to me personally, and whenever I have met with Rob, things have always been settled with a handshake. It's a give and take but we would not trade it.
MIMX Craig: We came racing a couple times and noticed the TEAM races, but it's all picked at random and seemed really fun, what's the info on the team race? : The team race is pretty cool. We always work the track a bit at halftime. Rather than running a hot lap or 2 to get the lines back, we came up with the team race. For $5, you can sign up and your name gets entered into the computer. As long as there is an even number we can have an even amount of teams. Teammates are paired up at random by the computer. You may ride with someone you have never met before which is pretty cool. You have to work out a strategy to see who's going to start at the gate and ride the first two laps. After the first two laps they go across the finish line and literally tag their partner who then rides their 2 laps. It's a combined for lap race and winners are figured in the order in which they finish. Awards are given to each team paying out one for every three teams. Points are kept for each individual rider throughout the season and at the end they qualify for our year-end banquet awards. It's a pretty simple concept but a lot of fun at the same time.
MIMX: Motocross isn't a team sport, but it is a family sport, your Wife and kids all put in their time at the track, is that rewarding and gratifying knowing that they are behind you 100% with the track? And what roles do they play on race day? Craig: Without my family we would never be able to run these events. My kids routinely spend their spring break from school working on the track with me. My wife works a full-time job and as I am doing this interview I am in Vermont working on a wind farm to help pay for the track. While I am home the track is my job. While I am away my wife Karen spends time after work mowing, spraying for weeds, picking up trash and doing other things as well as doing her mom duties. Although we don't speak of it often between us, especially me, I know there is no way in the world we could ever keep this track going without her. As far as a typical race day, my sons have had to work the last two races rather than ride because we needed their help at the track. It's not really what we intended as a family but it's what we have done to continue to bring smiles to the people's face as we can. I know I am hard on my boys when it comes to asking them for help and expecting them to do the things they do, I just hope it makes them better men in the future. I guess to answer your question completely, I am very very grateful for my family.
MIMX: Last Question, MPX is relatively unknown to the West side riders, what would you like to say to those looking to come over for their first race? Craig: Don't be afraid to stay the weekend with us. It is a very warm environment where people help strangers without expecting anything in return. You can come with money in your pocket and still probably leave with some. If you don't have fun when you come visit us all you have to do is track me down and tell me why and I assure you we will do everything in our power to make your experience a positive one. We take our business very personal and never take our Riders or their families for granted. If you're looking for something to do this weekend give us a shot and see for yourselves. MIMX: Thanks for the time Craig, and thank you for being so passionate and working hard to make riders experience a good one
Visit www.mpxracing.com for all the track information
Gates open Friday nights at 4pm to 10pm.
Saturday gate 8am to 10pm, Sunday 7am.
Practice Fees : Riders $25, Spectators $5. Kids non-riders 10 and under Free
July 29th (RACE) July 30th (RACE) *Double race weekend Aug 19th (Practice) Aug 20th (RACE)
Photos Courtesy of Diamond Photo