Falling off a dirt bike and picking it back up to try again has been a part of life for Jason Lesure, the founder of Moto Mayhem. When Moto Mayhem took its own fall earlier this year, Lesure took a break from organizing the race, but is now ready to pick it up and try again.
Moto Mayhem is returning on Aug. 11 and 12 with a fresh obstacle course, a focus on respect and revamped rules for sportsmanship at the Old Spanish Trail Arena.
Lesure said about 30 volunteers will help to transform the arena for the weekend event and hopes that it will be both challenging for the dirt bike racers and entertaining for its spectators.
“I make the obstacles to where they’re doable, but you still struggle,” Lesure said. “I don’t want it to be just riding around. I want them to be able to work and struggle.”
Admission fees are a fraction of the price of the national racing events, and the focus is on fostering good sportsmanship in young dirt-bike riders.
“My biggest thing is just respect,” Lesure said. “Respect for your other riders, course workers, the people at registration, the promoters, the flaggers, the people picking up trash, the food vendors, spectators — all of it.”
Lesure took a break from managing the race events in March, after tempers got out of control at a Moab Moto Mayhem event.
“We had a bunch of drama — fist fights, spectators jumping on the fence, telling people they were going to beat each other up and threatening me — it was embarrassing, no joke,” Lesure said.
He stepped back from hosting racing events to spend more time with his sons, and to remind the racing community about what his events are meant to be.
“I really do this for the love,” he said. “If I can walk out of there paying all my bills, and I’ve got gas money to get home, I’m happy. That’s the wrong business mentality, but I also have a real job. I do this because I love it. I’m not about the money. I’m about the sport and teaching kids.”
Lesure will make an announcement about his expectations at the start of Moto Mayhem. Youth participants will have a two-strike policy of receiving one warning for disrespectful behavior before being banned from the next race. Adults, Lesure said, will be banned on the first strike.
“I don’t need that,” he said, referring to the disruptive type of behavior that occurred at the last race. “It’s not fair for people’s bad attitudes to take that away from the people who really want it and they’re trying their hardest.”
Lesure’s devotion to the sport is evident in the amount of work that goes into each event. With the help of the volunteers, he hauls materials to the site the day before the first race to create the course and uses skid steers to stack and pile tires and logs. Children race on the first day, and that evening Lesure will modify the course for the adults to race on the following day.
After the final race, he cleans the venue seating, bathrooms and obstacle course and returns the dirt track to a smooth and level surface.
The venues Lesure uses for race events, including the Old Spanish Trail Arena, are primarily for horses, and the managers and people who use the sites like to have smooth surfaces. The standards are so demanding that Lesure has had to stop holding events at some venues in Colorado. Moab, he says, is one of the more welcoming locations.
“As of right now, Moab is still pretty receptive to it, so we’ll see how it goes,” Lesure said.
Steve Swift is the director of the Old Spanish Trail Arena, and he says that Lesure and his team do a good job of cleaning after each event. Swift believes the arena is there to serve the community, and doesn’t think it would be right to exclude Moto Mayhem users.
“The community seems to like it. There’s a lot of participation,” Swift said. “It seems to be safe and seems to be great fun.”
During the event, Swift says the bikes create a lot of noise and fumes. They take precautions to keep the fresh air circulating and sometimes shut off the bikes for a few minutes during the day to let the building’s fans evacuate the exhaust.
Lesure has a lifetime of dirt-bike experience and has passed his love of the sport to his two sons. He recently started the Moto Mayhem series as a way for families to have an affordable and positive racing atmosphere in Grand County.
“We’d have to go to Denver or Salt Lake,” Lesure said, referring to the years before he started the Moto Mayhem series. “It was ‘Pick your seven-hour drive, which way do you want to go.’ I was like, this is crazy. It’s just too expensive.”
Over the past five years, Lesure has organized the enduro-style dirt bike races in Moab, as well as in his hometown of Montrose, Colorado, and several other cities.
Despite the challenges that come with creating a successful racing event, Lesure’s enthusiasm is undimmed.
“Once you dirt bike, it’s like, ‘holy cow!’” he said. “It’s a whole different feeling than any other sport or activity of any kind. It’s pretty awesome.”
Dirt bike course challenges racers and entertains spectators
“My biggest thing is just respect. Respect for your other riders, course workers, the people at registration, the promoters, the flaggers, the people picking up trash, the food vendors, spectators — all of it.”
When: 8 a.m. on Aug. 11 and 12
Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena, 3641 S. U.S. Highway 191
Cost: $10 general admission; $5 for kids ages 6-11; 6 and under free
Info: Visit montrosemotomayhem.com or follow Moto Mayhem on Facebook to see the latest updates.