Photo Information

A quad rider catches some air during the Motocross spring series opener at Half Moon MX Park in Jacksonville, N.C. Many Marines with the II Marine Expeditionary Force headed out to the tracks to compete in the races. Motocross offers Marines a safe -and legal- alternative to street racing.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Edward L. Mennenga

You’re never too old to play in the dirt: II MEF Marines hit motocross track

13 Mar 2005 | Lance Cpl. Edward L. Mennenga

The noise is deafening. Machines speed past, slamming their riders through the dust and sand to meet the challenge against themselves or other competitors and there are only two ways out of Half Moon MX Park’s spring season opener – victory or defeat. Marines with II Marines Expeditionary Force headed out to the opener March 13. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point’s Full Throttle Racing team competed in the opener, as well as several Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Marines.Lance Cpl. William D. Arnold, assistant training non-commissioned officer, Bulk Field Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, blew the competition away in his first race since joining the Marine Corps. “I was told once I got to Lejeune to get a hobby,” said Arnold who took first place in the 125 and 250 “C” classes. “It’s something I enjoy doing and I came out here to have some fun.” Capt. William F. Klumpp III, public affairs officer, 26 Marine Expeditionary Unit, took fourth place in the 125 “D” class. Klumpp has been racing for a year. However, before that he hadn’t raced in 26 years. “It is competition at the highest level. You compete against yourself to get better, and no matter how good you get, there is always someone faster than you,” said Klumpp, who took second place in his series during last years fall series. “It is more physically demanding than any sport I have ever been involved in. And, it gives you an adrenaline rush like no other.” Many of the Marines showed interest in bases starting teams and opening up tracks.“I think there should be a track at Camp Lejeune. There have been tracks at both Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River previously,” said Klumpp. “I think re-establishing those tracks would give Marines and Sailors a place to ride in a more controlled environment and at an easily accessible location. It would help keep Marines safe as there could be equipment regulations enforced before they would be allowed to ride.”With the II MEF Force Preservation Campaign Plan, keeping Marines in the fight has become a large concern. With that in mind, many tracks require riders to use protective equipment.“At any track, you will be required to wear at least boots and a helmet, but if you're not wearing all the safety gear available, you just aren't being real smart,” said Klumpp. “Organized races provide better competition in a much safer environment. Everybody crashes in this sport… even the pros get hurt.”Marines, returning from deployment, seem to feel the urge to fulfill their need for speed, however, Klumpp believes that motocross is a safer –and legal- alternative to street racing.“If you ride irresponsibly and don't wear all the proper gear, you are neither mature nor intelligent,” said Klumpp. “Unfortunately, street riders don't have closed courses readily accessible, so when they get that temptation to race, they often make the rash decision of testing their skills on public roads. Unless you have been to race school and turned race-qualifying lap times, you are not good enough to race anywhere. Skills don't overcome street conditions and traffic. Dirt is softer than asphalt.”People who want to take up Motocross as a sport should first find people who have been racing for a while.“The Southern Motocross Association is like a big family. People look out for each other and help each other with riding tips and mechanical work,” said Klumpp.Arnold, who would like to see a motocross team form at Lejeune, had this advice for new riders “Be sure to get yourself a good bike and go fully into it. Get with people who have been doing it for awhile… and do it for fun.”For more information on motocross in the Jackonsville, N.C., area, please visit http://www.halfmoonmxpark.com.