AURORA, Ill., (Nov. 8, 2006) – Nestled in the heart of New York State’s Capital Region, Albany’s Pepsi Arena has become a staple on the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series tour. The home of the American Hockey League’s River Rats, Albany Conquest (Arena Football League) and Siena Saints MAAC basketball team, Pepsi Arena enjoys playing host to a wide range of highly exciting athletic contests.
But this weekend will be a little different for building as we pile it full of soil and turn loose the dirt bikes as droves of motorsports fans make their yearly pilgrimage from all over the region, descending upon the downtown Albany area for Round Two of the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series.
Last year at Albany Toyota AMA Arenacross Series track builder Rigg Hipps had to battle the elements in order to get the Albany track built. Torrential rains last fall turned Live Nation’s dirt stockpile for the track to mud and Hipps had to pull off a miracle to get the track in racing order. His secret? “Ten tons of lime,” said Hipps of the magnesium carbonate he mixed in with the dirt on the arena floor. Dried up the mud but good. This year, however, reports on the weather out of Upstate New York have been much more favorable and the racing surface should come together without a hitch.
How about that Des Moines (Iowa) pro rider turnout? “Biggest I’ve ever seen” said Director of Arenacross Robert Hansen of the 78 AMA Arenacross class entrants and 84 AMA Arenacross Lites class entrants. The field was so competitive that Saturday’s Arenacross class winner, Robbie Reynard, didn’t even get out of the qualifiers on Friday!
Some more Pepsi Arena facts:
Frank Sinatra christened the building on Jan. 30th, 1990.
Since the opening more than seven million people have attended events here.
The second performer at Pepsi Arena, after Sinatra? Bill Cosby!
Know as “Upstate New York’s Premier Sports and Entertainment Facility.”
Pepsi Arena averages 165 events a year.
The arena used to be known as “Knickerbocker Arena.”
Renamed “Pepsi Arena” on Jan. 8, 1997.
Seating arrangements vary from 6,000 to 17,500.
It would take 228 Pepsi cans stacked end-to-end to reach the highest point of the ceiling.
8,000 gallons of water are used to create the ice surface for the Albany River Rats.
Local sportscaster Dan Murphy once took 26 hours to sit in every Pepsi Arena seat!
Sell-out concerts at Pepsi Arena have included: Billy Joel, U2, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Garth Brooks, Puff Daddy and the Family, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, The Dave Matthews Band, Phish, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Dixie Chicks, Britney Spears, Tina Turner, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart and the Grateful Dead.
This just in from Steve “TFS” Bruhn: “Experience pays off for Arenacross tuners like Junior Jackson. A few interesting changes he makes exclusively for Toyota AMA Arenacross are a narrower tire on the rear of Chad Johnson's RMZ450, as well as running less sag than Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross because they don't need suspension as soft because of supercross’ long difficult whoop sections.”
Bent disc dept: Brock Sellards didn't forget to turn Saturday at Des Moines in his heat race. He had no brakes! His front brake disc was bent and separated the pads, which left him with no way to stop. He changed it for the main. Look for Brock to make an instant impact on the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series. Last year Sellards was the runner-up in Toyota AMA Arenacross.
Chad Johnson is pumped to have DonJoy back as his official brand of knee bracing. According to DonJoy’s representative Brian Moore, “Chad Johnson represents what DonJoy is all about. Our company motto is ‘Never stop getting better.’ And that what we like about Chad. He does whatever it takes to get better and make improvements to be the best rider.”
Look for a cool advance story this week in the Albany Times Union newspaper. Reporter Rick Clemenson is doing a feature on some of the area amateur racers aspiring for greatness by racing Toyota AMA Arenacross Series’ Sunday amateur day.
Last year’s winners were: Shawn Clark (AMA Arenacross Lites) and Chad Johnson (AMA Arencross). Noteworthy: Keep an eye out for the No. 109 bike of fan-favorite veteran Barry Carsten! Barry barely missed the podium twice in the Lites class, going 4-4.
Big news for Reno! Newly crowned Dew Tour champion and Summer X Games medalist Mike Mason will be bringing the back flip to the Reno Livestock Events Center. In its 15th year of competition, this will be Reno’s first time showcasing the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series’ national-caliber talent like defending series champion Chad Johnson.
Also a bigger track! Reno Livestock Events Center boasts the largest track footprint on the Toyota AMA Arenacross Series tour. Says Hansen: “Bigger jumps, wider lanes and a chance for the top guys to really s-t-r-e-t-c-h their legs out this year!”
And don’t forget at Albany, Sunday’s amateur day counts as qualifying for next year’s Amateur Arenacross World Finals in Las Vegas!