On Friday May 12, Glen Helen unveiled its plans for the 2006 Glen Helen
250F/450 AMA National track. Glen Helen will invest over $300,000 on
track improvements before the September 10, 2006, race. These changes
NEW TOWER: A totally new three-story scoring tower will replace
the old wooden tower. The new tower will include observation decks,
bathrooms, announcer's booth (with tilted glass windows) and a TV
platform on the roof.
NEW HILL:Glen Helen is the hilliest track on the AMA National
circuit and that reputation will only be reinforced by the addition of
Mt. Whitney, named after the late Whitney Murphy. For those unfamiliar
with Glen Helen's four tracks (two outdoor and two Supercross), Mt.
Whitney is located on the REM track--which means that for the
first-time ever the AMA National track will cross over the hill behind
the scoring tower and go up to the top of the farthest ridge before
coming back down, via a very steep drop-off, onto the infamous muddy
straight. Mt. Whitney will join Shoei Hill, Mt. Saint Helen and Yamaha
Hill. The best thing is that the track will flow up and over the two
valleys that composed Glen Helen's natural terrain.
NEW LAYOUT: The addition of Mt. Whitney into the track means
that spectators will have more choices of things to watch--as the old
Budds Creek section, and its scary whoop section, has been retired (for
the time being), but in its place is a new super step-up jump that will
launch the riders from the ground floor of the National track up onto
the REM pits. The Budds Creek section and the 110-foot-long tabletop
will be used for RV parking on the National weekend.
FENCING: Track designer Jody Weisel has met with the AMA's Steve
Whitelock (and John Ayers) several times in the past couple months to
work out the details of the track fencing, which will incorporate the
AMA's new plastic track barriers (much like the yellow plastic poles
used at freeway gore points). The use of these special plastic track
markers (2500 of them will be used at Glen Helen this year) will make
it possible to cut down on the number of hay bales and provide for an
special access road completely around the track for the Asterisk Mobile
Medical Mule. Glen Helen spends $30,000 on track fencing every year.
MEDICAL UNITS: Not only will Asterisk be providing a medical
unit at the National (as they do at every AMA race), but Glen Helen
will have its own mobile medical unit (located by the tower) and four
separate EMT crews station strategically around the track. In addition,
Glen Helen is in the planning stages of outfitting their own “Emergency
Care Center” with X-ray machines, oxygen, doctors and nurses to
stabilize and care for both riders and spectators. The Glen Helen care
center will be located in a permanent building and staffed by emergency
TEST RACES: The 2006 National track will have four test races
before the National. The first was the World Four-Stroke
Championship--which was the first race to blend the National and REM
tracks together. The second test race was the Prequel--which not only
put all the hills into play, but was used to test the new fencing plan
and ambulance road. Jody and Steve Whitelock worked on track details
right up until the day before the race. The Yamaha Dealer Series will
use a modified version of the National track--with the jumps toned
down. And, one race (to be named at a later date) will be run just
before the September National to finalize all the changes.
RACE TRACK SCHEDULE: It should be noted that unlike most East
Coast National tracks Glen Helen Raceway holds 100 races a year (two
weeks ago Glen Helen raced on Saturday and Sunday, Monday and Tuesday
(Police and Fire Olympics), had practice on Thursday and raced again on
Saturday and Sunday (an ATV race). That is six races in nine days.
Plus, Glen Helen is open year round--since San Bernardino, California,
only has two seasons, Summer and Windy, it is open over 150 days a year
(and when it isn't open it is rented by the factories for pre-pro
testing of the factory teams).