Dirt and street options for motorcycle riding…
Even though there aren’t any motorcycle races going on this summer, the Northern California motorcycle dirt and street rider scene is alive and well.
About six or seven years ago, a group of local men and women who enjoy racing motorcycles got together and formed the Shasta SuperMoto Club, meeting once a month in Palo Cedro. An annual membership is quite affordable, and they meet, ride and race at the track on 6030 Old Oregon Trail off Airport Road.
At the end of the Redding Dragstrip, there’s a paved go-kart track that was originally managed by the Shasta Kart Club. The nonprofit agreed to share its track with the Shasta SuperMoto Club and now both clubs hold events that allow sprint kart racers and motorcyclists to safely enjoy their respective sports.
Shasta SuperMoto Club member and 2019 Supermoto USA Adult Mini Champion Hawk Mazzotta has been racing professionally since 1999. He lives in Cottonwood now but grew up in the small town of Whitmore just north of Shingletown, which is where he learned how to ride motorcycles. “My brothers and I grew up on a ranch and we rode around on dirt bikes as a way of commuting and checking on the cattle,” he says.
Even though Mazzotta now works as a homebuilder, he never stopped riding and racing professionally. Then about a year or so ago, he found out about the Shasta SuperMoto Club and is happy to have an additional place to ride. “It’s one of the better tracks (in the region),” Mazzotta says about the track that the SuperMoto Club members use. “It has a beautiful surface, it’s right here in Redding, it’s safe, and there are a lot of layouts.”
The large track takes up 15 acres and has a smooth surface that allows one to get some speed. “I think we’ve topped out at 115mph on the straightaways and it’s well-maintained. There are inside and outside curbs on the turns and a lot of areas to run off into safely,” Mazzotta says.
There are several different layouts within the track, with the main long course and different sections within that. The tree line that surrounds the track is a good distance away from it so there’s nothing to really hit, and the airport is on the other side. “The big thing I look at is safety, and this track allows all sorts of people to ride on it,” Mazzotta says.
The Shasta SuperMoto Club augmented the track with a series of bumps, berms, tabletops and big jumps in the dirt sections for motorcyclists to be able to veer off and ride motocross style. The smaller jump can send one 30 feet or so; the step-up tabletop takes a dirt bike rider even higher.
The SuperMoto track has also complemented Mazzotta’s Moto camps, where he teaches people of all ages and abilities how to safely and properly ride motorcycles. He hosts camps on his property in Cottonwood and takes them out to the paved track. Mazzotta started his camps at the end of last year and taught 10 people within two days as well as hosted three kids’ camps. He teaches anybody and everybody how to learn a motorcycle (preferring to start them in the dirt).
“I encourage people to start in the dirt, and at my tracks there’s nothing you can hit. You can learn how to control a bike and slide. Paved roads are more dangerous and street motorcycles have more power behind them and are heavier. There are a lot of obstacles, you can’t see the oil on the road, there’s a lot going on,” he says.
As far as future races at the Shasta SuperMoto track go, Mazzotta and other club members are patiently waiting to get the go-ahead, but in the meantime Mazzotta is training a new generation of racers through his Hawk Mazzotta Moto Camp Kids Team.
“I selected a handful of naturally good riders, so when they’re ready to race I’ll mentor them,” he says about the four riders on his team. Mazzotta is teaching his young dirt bike riders the ins and outs of procuring sponsorships and how to ride, emphasizing that off-track the kids must keep up their grades to continue racing on the team. He’s even looking at hosting some casual “backyard burners” on his property this fall. “This will be a fun thing to get people together and give them a place to ride and race,” he says.
Photo by Nigel Skeet