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  • Bangor Daily News

    Professional-level motocross track opens in Oakfield

    By Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli,


    OAKFIELD, Maine – Gabe Hovey couldn’t wait to get back on the new motocross track on Wednesday. The dirt hairpins, rollers, jumps and berms were in a new configuration and it took a few passes on his motorcycle around the intricate course for the local 12-year-old to get his rhythm.

    It was late afternoon at the Big Air Farm pro motocross track along Thompson Settlement Road in Oakfield when members of the Hovey family of Amity and the Albert family of Linneus, each with generations of pro racers, suited up to test the course before its first American Motorcycle  Association sanctioned event later this month.

    Race the Track 1 will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 22. Professional racers and amateurs can compete.

    Motocross is off-road motorcycle racing on uneven terrain in a closed circuit of jumps and other challenges. It originated in the early 1900s in the UK with motorcycle trial competitions. It wasn’t until the late 1960s and early 1970s that it took root in the U.S.

    AMA pro racers can select sanctioned events around the nation to earn points to build their standings and qualify for a pro motocross license. The season is just getting started up north, said track co-owner Nicole Herstik.

    Big Air Farm MX is one of two American Motorcycle Association chartered tracks in Maine, according to Jensen Burkeen, AMA sanctioned activity specialist in Pickerington, Ohio. The other is MX 207 in Lyman, she said.

    “AMA chartered tracks follow our rulebook,” Burkeen said, adding that racers like the consistency of the chartered tracks.
    Former Australian Olympic Alpine skier Nicole Herstik, who owns Big Air Farm MX with partner Jesse Clement, watches the track as pro racers test it out in Oakfield on Wednesday. Credit: Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli / Houlton Pioneer Times

    Herstik said that AMA races are the stepping stone to World Cup races which are like the Olympics.

    The one-mile per lap track at Big Air Farm hadn’t been sprinkled with water like on race days on Wednesday, so the riders were flying by in fast-moving clouds of sun filtered dust.

    The new configuration is a lot more challenging, said Gabe Hovey, adding he likes it. The young racer was trained by his pro racer dad, Steve Hovey, who was there Wednesday to cheer him on.

    Former Australian Olympic Alpine racer Nicole Herstik, who owns Big Air Farm MX with partner Jesse Clement, watched intently as the racers hit the rollers, which are rounded bumps in the dirt track. She talked about a 60-foot table top – a jump with a flat top between takeoff and landing – they are building because several of the pros said they wanted that at the track.

    “It’s a track built by racers for racers,” she said, adding that her alpine ski experience has figured into some of the track configuration.
    Pro racer Austin Albert checks out the air at Big Air Farm MX in Oakfield on Wednesday. Credit: Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli / Houlton Pioneer Times

    When they bought the 20-something acre farm late last year they thought it might be fun to build a personal snocross track for the family, After it was built they thought it was pretty good and invited the local snowmobile club, Smoki Haulers , to try it out.

    Word spread and before long sledders from Bangor found their way to the family track.

    “We said, ‘hey this is our private track,’ and they said, ‘it’s so awesome,’” Nicole said, laughing.

    When the snow disappeared, the motocross track started to take shape and they decided to build a “proper” track, she said.

    On their own, with input from pro racers, Herstik and Clement, who also races dirt bikes, began the tedious task of creating a challenging track with their own equipment, including tractors, excavators, skid steers, and bulldozers. In the center there is a flat track for kids and then a challenging outer track for amateurs and professionals.

    On Wednesday, Austin Albert talked about a new addition to the course.

    “It’s not poppy, it’s more like a ski jump,” he said. “It’s very challenging.”

    When they hold pro races, amateurs can also race and the youngest of the young on their 50 cc bikes go first because that’s when the track is the cleanest with no rocks, said Jesse Clement.
    Pro racer Austin Albert talks about the new track he was testing on Wednesday evening at Big Air Farm MX in Oakfield. Karen Tardif looks on. Credit: Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli / Houlton Pioneer Times

    Last month they heard that some local Special Olympians couldn’t afford to go to the event this year so in less than two weeks they put together a fundraising race with 100 percent of the proceeds going to 11 athletes. They were able to provide lodging, food and merch for the olympians, Herstik said.

    And they are working with local companies and corporate sponsors to help out with their kids’ motocross program as well as getting kids more gear, Herstik said.

    “We are very community minded and the young kids are the big thing for us because they are the life of the sport,” she said. “Without them this will not keep going.”

    The race is open to the public at no cost but racers must register. It’s $40 for adult racers, $20 for kids. Early registration before June 20 is $30 for adults and $15 for kids. To get to Big Air Farm MX take River Road in Oakfield and turn onto Thompson Settlement Road. There is space for trailers and some space for camping. Contact Herstik for more information.

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