ASK THE MXPERTS: WHY IS GLEN HELEN SHORTENING ITS START?

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glenhelenstartinggate
This Glen Helen’s new starting gate which will debut at the USGP.

Dear MXperts,
    I read on the internet that Glen Helen was moving it’s starting gate forward by 60 feet. Why? Glen Helen has one of the longest starts in the sport, why would they shorten it?

We asked Jody Weisel, who designs Glen Helen’s AMA National, World Vet and USGP tracks, and he said. “First of all, the starting gate is not being moved forward 60 feet. It is being moved 37 feet in front of where the old gate was, but if anybody wants to start back where the old gate was they are free to do it.” According to Jody there are two reasons why the gate is being moved:

(1) Skybox. For the September 20 USGP,  a two-story Sky Box building will be located behind the starting gate to serve as a staging area for the GP riders. That building will be 25 feet wide by 150 feet long. The old starting gate was only 15 feet in front of the billboard backdrop. Since the Skybox wouldn’t fit in that space, the starting gate was move forward to make room. It will also be possible for Glen Helen to put rider staging behind the starting gate at the AMA 250/450 National in the future.

(2) Local races. If you’ve ever raced at Glen Helen then you know how cramped it was behind the old starting gate. Riders who were lining up for the second gate often blocked the way of riders on the first gate from getting to their spots. By moving the starting gate forward, there will be more room behind the gate for riders to line up before their motos start. Overall the start will only be shortened by 37 feet, which is will not stop riders from being tapped out in fifth on their way to Talladega.

We shot the above photo to show the relationship of the billboard and new gate position. The newly poured concrete holds the 40-man starting gate. A wooden retainer will be put 10 feet behind the concrete to contain the riders in their starting spots (marked by the small bank of dirt). What you might miss in the photo is that the far side of the old starting gate was 3-1/2 feet lower than the end closest to the Glen Helen Museum building. So, while moving the gate forward, the ground was raised so that the starting line is now perfectly level. It will be laser-level. Glen Helen also trucked in dirt to raise the far side of the start line in front of the gate. There will be approximately 50 feet between the wooden retainer and the backdrop for local riders to line up for their motos. Instead of the gate being 25 feet in front of the billboard, it will now be 62 feet in front of it.

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