AMA Dirt Bike Motorcycle Racing Florida Style

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Punta Gorda, FL — December 12, 2023

For two years now, The Lasco Press has come to Florida to cover the Thor Mini-Os motocross races at Gatorback Cycle Park near Gainsville. The annual event, the week of Thanksgiving, features one of the largest fields of amateur motocross riders competing on supercross and motocross courses.

Spending some time in the “Sunshine State” during a Michigan winter is not a bad assignment. We are stretching that time out through the holidays to schedule a visit with the crew at Moto Sandbox, the elite supercross & motocross training facility near Clermont. A number of AMA Michigan District 14 motocross riders are set to train there with amateurs and professionals worldwide who come to improve their skills.

The coverage of motocross and related events provided by The Lasco Press has a following in Florida. We received an invitation to attend the American Motorcycle Association Melon Bash hosted by the Florida Trail Riders at The Farm on 31 in Punta Gorda.

Hare Scramble

The Melon Bash was a new experience for us. Instead of the bumps and jumps of a conventional motocross layout over a two-mile circuit, this event was a hare scramble contested over 12 miles of trails cut through a Florida cattle ranch.

Yes, real cattle / Lasco Press Photo

From the start, in a sandy pasture into the overgrowth of palmetto bushes. The un-groomed trails traverse natural obstacles such as fallen trees, standing water, palm forests with exposed roots, and banked curves cut into the soft sandy Florida dirt. It takes an average rider approximately 40 minutes to complete one lap of the circuit.

Florida motorcycle trail riding / Lasco Press Photo

Riders race against the clock as well as other riders. The starts are staggered by age and ability of different classes. In an interesting twist, riders must sprint five yards to their bike, mount, and fire the engine to begin racing. An electric start motorcycle is a big advantage.

The Start, old-time LeMans Style / Lasco Press Photo

Near the end of the course, an “enduro section” is set up near a spectator viewing area. There, the riders can display their trail skills over multiple constructed obstacles similar to what they experience in the natural course of trail riding. Less experienced rookie riders can skip the enduro portion by taking a detour through a longer section of the course that re-enters the forest.

Going Down in the Enduro Section / Lasco Press Photo
OOPS, OUCH / Lasco Press Photo

Oh, and did I mention that Palmetto bushes are a favorite hangout of the Florida diamondback rattlesnake? Now that is some serious sport riding!

The author’s cousin Doug Sherwood(57) heading back into the palm forest / Lasco Press Photo

For more photographs of the AMA Melon Bash, click the link to the Author’s Facebook Page.