The packed infield lot at the Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions motocross track Saturday afternoon in Kenai made for a perfect visual to sum up the enthusiasm and gusto that the racing crowd brings from all corners of the state.
The State Races weekend draws nearly 100 of the top motocross riders from around Alaska for two days of intense action, but off the dirt track, it was all about family and togetherness.
In one corner of the sandy parking lot sat a monstrous team of two families that made the three-plus hour drive south from Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna valleys.
With six bikes lined up in order of size and power — complete with a dazzling array of colors and brutal-looking engines — the Evans and the Moffit families gathered together for a weekend of fun. And, on a gorgeous Father’s Day weekend, the time spent together couldn’t be better.
“We’re all one big family,” said Heather Evans, the matriarch of the family.
Evans’ 10-year-old son Isaiah and 7-year-old Urijah compete in the lower levels of motocross events in Anchorage and the Valley, but the state races in Kenai rank among their favorites.
“I like the jump, but I don’t like crashing,” Isaiah said. “I flipped over my bars once.”
Evans said young Urijah has been riding since age 3.
On the other end of the age spectrum, Evans’ stepfather Alan Fargo is making his way back to the racing scene. Fargo, 48, said he raced whenever he could in his younger days, but a leg injury about a decade ago kept him off his bike for years.
This summer, after seeing his grandchildren riding around the backyard, Fargo thought a return would be in the works.
“I thought I’d swing my leg around a bike again, it’s hard to stay away,” he said.
Chris Moffitt, the patriarch of the Moffitt family, said this weekend marked the seventh year in a row the family team has made the trip south to Kenai, and the expense is worth it.
“I enjoy doing it for the kids,” Chris said. “We put in all the hard work and do it for them.”
Moffitt’s two sons, Tristan, 13, and Christopher, 11, both picked up runner-up finishes Saturday, but their success runs deeper than that. Christopher is a two-time Mini Quad champion in Alaska, and Tristan recently competed at the James Stewart Freestone Championship nationals in Wortham, Texas, where his best finish was 10th in a last chance qualifier. The national event annually brings out 600 to 800 riders from across the country.
“It was crazy,” Tristan said, describing the start of the event that lined up around 50 riders at the start gate.
“Everyone was looking over at each other, bumping elbows, there was no room.”
Back in Kenai, Tristan picked the KPRL course as one of his favorites, pointing to the length and variety as key aspects.
However, the KPRL course can also bite back. Tristan and father, Chris, said the deep sand and ruts make it easy to dig in on the landing of a high jump, flipping the rider off the front of his handlebars.
“We get beat up and some bruises, but we get back on it,” Moffitt said.
Saturday in Kenai, one rider didn’t even make it to noon before suffering a hard landing that broke both ankles.
On the bright side, the injury provided a shining example of the friendliness and helpful atmosphere that pervades the event. The injured rider’s young daughter could not ride with her father to the hospital, but the Moffitts and Evans’ stepped up and looked after her without a second thought.
“We all look out for each other,” Evans said.
Buying tires, top-end chassis, brakes and clutch components will leave a hole in the bank account at the end of a summer, but Moffitt said he’s willing to make that investment.
“It keeps the kids out of trouble and gives them something to do,” Moffitt explained while oiling up the chain on his son’s bike.
Moffitt added that he will often fix up opponents gear as well, even if those same riders will be racing against his family.
“That’s what I love most about these races,” he said. “It’s all about having fun.”
With a price tag of close $20,000 per year accounting for bikes, gear, entry fees and gas, among other things, Moffitt said he hopes to be teaching the kids a valuable lesson.