MotoOnline.com.au rides with the crew from Race SoCal in Southern California.
For your typical Australian dirt bike rider, the dream is to one day experience the tracks and lifestyle of Southern California – the centre of American motocross. Thanks to former British Motocross pro Stephen Heighton, that dream is easily able to become a reality.
MotoOnline.com.au has developed a close relationship with Stephen and the crew from Race SoCal over the past three years, riding with them on a number of occasions and spending time with the staff and clients during various different tours.
Based in Menifee, California, Race SoCal was formed around eight years ago and usually runs from the end of September to the end of May or beginning of June during the season. It caters for 14 riders at any one time, with room for two spectators, and the program is well refined with real world experience where it counts.
“I came out here training in 2004 and then again at the beginning of 2005,” Heighton explains. “I was racing professionally back there and just wanted a way to fund being able to train in California. I rented a house, then advertised on some forums and things that I was looking for people to stay with me, to help cover my costs.
“From there a few guys asked if I had bikes I could rent, so I started renting out my practice bike and it kind of grew from there. It took off and I just kind of went with it, supplying to the demand as it came. It wasn’t really planned, but that was eight years ago and we’re still growing [laughs]. It was by accident, really!
“You never really give up working on the business, no matter how good you get, it’s always nice to try and keep getting better. It’s a never ending struggle to keep getting better, keep improving and trying to make it an even better experience for the customers.”
Race SoCal has been developed for all levels of riders, whether you simply like riding moto on the weekends or if you’re a top level racer looking to spend time in the US training for the race season.
The thing with Heighton’s company is that it’s ultimately very flexible, meaning the riding element is taken very seriously, but the off-track activities offer plenty of fun between motos as well. For the most part, Race SoCal plans its schedule around your particular group’s requirements.
“We cater for everybody,” Heighton explains. “We are for your average enthusiastic motocross rider. You don’t have to be pro, we want to be for everybody and the tracks out here also cater for a variety of your average riders. We’re more there for your riders that want to have fun – the guys that drink beers on Friday night and then race on Sundays.
“We try to cater for all types. We have an outline of what days they ride, but in their downtime we leave it up to the clients what they kind of like to do. We have plenty of vans and staff to drive them around, so if they want to drink at night we take them, or if they want to stay home and have a barbeque then we stay in. Even things like theme parks, if they want to do it then we’re pretty flexible.”
Heighton recognises Australia as a very strong market for his business, with a lot of customers travelling across the Pacific to LA and living the ultimate motocross vacation during their time with Race SoCal.
“We have a lot of Australian customers and it definitely works for them – they seem to be big fans of the way we do business from what I have experienced,” he says. “We have a lot of them and so many come back, so I’m sure they like it and have a good time.”
Aussie racer Mat Cox has been an integral part of Race SoCal’s popularity growth in Australia, based at the ranch in Menifee looking after the clients and making to most of his time in California. With perfectly prepared tracks, the impressive facilities of Race SoCal and plenty of Aussies stopping by for company, Cox is enjoying his time.
“Initially I came over as a Race SoCal customer with a bunch of Aussie boys in a really good group,” Cox reflects. “I had a really good time, so I spoke to Stephen about coming back for a longer stint, then next minute I was flying back for six months to look after the customers, making sure they’re well-looked after at the track as well as in the evenings when it comes to entertainment. It also gives me plenty of time to ride and have fun on the bike again. I’m having the time of my life.”
Race SoCal’s fleet of bikes include Honda four-strokes and Yamaha two-strokes, amounting in a total of 14 bikes for customers to select from during their tour. They’re professionally maintained and during a recent ride day at Milestone, I was lucky enough to pilot a fresh new 2013 model CRF450R – awesome!
“We typically run six 250Fs, six 450s, a 125 and a 250 two-stroke,” Heighton adds. “We run Honda four-strokes and the two-strokes are more modern from Yamaha, so we use YZs for them. The bikes are all maintained in-house and we work hard to ensure they’re always in a quality condition for all the different groups.”
The majority of trips include return airport transfers to LAX, accommodation at the ranch, bed and breakfast, and bike hire (including track fees, fuel, oil, pit support, etc).
Many trips are scheduled to include the Southern Californian and Las Vegas rounds American Supercross, plus there are also trips for select outdoors including Hangtown and Lake Elsinore. In addition, other events include the Monster Energy Cup and World Vets.
And what basics do you need to bring for your trip? Return flights to LAX, your riding gear, spending money for evening meals and of course the awesome moto shopping of the US. Race SoCal also highly recommends you take out travel insurance that covers motocross.
The tracks Race SoCal visits weekly during the year include Milestone, Pala, Lake Elsinore, Peris, Competitive Edge, Cahuilla Creek, Starwest and Glen Helen. There’s also the opportunity to do the odd REM race at the world famous Glen Helen Raceway.
Pricing ranges between $US1250 for a week with four days of riding, all the way to up to eight weeks with 32 days riding for $US9200. Race SoCal has a variety of options for the aforementioned events, all at a super cost effective rate that would be near impossible to beat otherwise.
Race SoCal has a relaxed environment with an awesome opportunity to ride some of the best tracks in the world. It’s an experience that is worth every cent of you’re a real deal fan of motocross. To find out more on the company and its tours, check them out on the web at www.racesocal.com.