First ATV race draws crowd to Busco Beach
By Rudy Coggins
Published in News on September 4, 2011 1:50 AM
Spectators sit along the fence and watch the ATV races Saturday at Busco Beach.
Not bad for a soybean field.
Nearly 11 months ago, Jack Bennett envisioned building a dirt track in hopes of drawing more attention to Busco Beach. He talked extensively with the Goldsboro/Wayne County Travel and Tourism Board and officials associated with the American Motorcyclist Association.
Long days of moving dirt with bulldozers and backhoes followed as Bennett and outside sources worked together to build the facility. Ken Ferrell from Birch Creek, Va., served as the guiding light as the track began to take shape in August.
Once the necessary amenities had been added, Bennett and local officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in mid-August. Bennett's vision had become a rider's paradise.
Then, beginning Friday, more than 200 competitors ranging from 5- to 50-plus-years old converged on Busco Beach for the season-ending ATV Extreme Dirt Track National where national champions in the men's Pro Class and Women's Class were determined late Saturday evening.
"It's come a long way from a soybean field," grinned Bennett. "I told Ken that I didn't want to build just another track, I wanted to build a prima donna. He guided me in that direction and I think we, with just a slight bit more refinement, will have a prima donna (facility) for this sport.
"It was challenging, but it was a lot of fun ... something I haven't done before. To see all these people here from about 40 states across the country is incredibly pleasing to me."
Riders arrived at Busco Beach on Friday for practice sessions and timed qualifying trials in the Pro divisions. Amateur and youth practice took place early Saturday morning, and heat races in all divisions started around 10 a.m.
Spectators cheered as riders dodged each other and attempted to stay upright on the slick, built-for-speed track.
"It's a new track, so we didn't know what to expect but it's really good and it looks like there should be some good passing with the split lanes," said current men's Pro Class points leader Harold Goodman, who hails from Romulus, Mich. "It's a pretty fast track. The facility here is awesome ... the ride park everything. It's a really nice setup.
"My goal is to go out there (today), do the best I can and hopefully finish well enough to stay ahead of Michael (Coburn) in the points."
Coburn, the 2010 Pro Class points title-holder, enters the final stop on the eight-circuit AMA Extreme Dirt Track National tour trailing Goodman. Unless disaster struck during their race Saturday evening, Goodman was expected to emerge as the new Pro Class champ.
"It's a tight race," smiled Coburn. "This is it. I don't know how the points actually work out, but if I win, he'd have to finish back (in the pack) a little ways. It will definitely be tough to pass him or beat him.
"It will be a good race, no matter what."
While the men's Pro Class title remains in doubt, Paula Shank has clinched her fourth consecutive Women's Class crown.
The Pennsylvania native, who has been racing since she was 9 years old, has experienced some disappointment while defending her championship. Shank started the year with a team that eventually folded and she diligently searched for assistance to continue the season.
"It's been a trying year," said Shank. "I've had problems that I've had are little problems that I don't usually have. It's been satisfying for the year to go the way it has. (The title run) has taken hard work, consistency ... trying to be smooth and running a smart race.
"A lot of times consistency wins the race."
Shank had mixed emotions about the track.
"I'm more of a technical person," said Shank. "It's a good, high-speed track and it's hard to get the bike dialed up. Right now I'm having a hard time from keeping the bike spinning out.
"This really doesn't separate the good racers from the best racers because we're all going so fast. It's a tricky track to set up for."
ATVs hummed outside and the PA announcer described the current heat race in spirited fashion as Miss North Carolina, Hailey Best, made an appearance at the track.
The Goldsboro native, who is currently taking the year off from Meredith College, sang the National Anthem, then took pictures and signed autographs for fans. Like many others during the morning, Best described the facility as "awesome" and said she had heard many things about Busco Beach from her brother.
"They've done a great job," said Best. "It's scary to watch the younger kids because you think 'oh gosh, what if they fall over?' But they wear the safety pads and helmets ... do it the right way.
"You see plenty of people out there as tourists, friends, fans and supporters. It's a nice community event."
And one of many events to come.
Busco Beach will play host to the Xtreme Mud Racing Series on Sept. 17 and a drag racing event on Sept. 23.
Bennett said a moto-cross (two-wheel) track should be completed by the fall and ready for competition. He added that just about any event can be held at the facility, which carries a $125,000 price tag, as long as AMA does not have a sanctioned event planned.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for both the city of Goldsboro and Wayne County, and southeastern North Carolina," said Bennett.