The Schottenstein Center is getting dirty.
On Tuesday morning, workers removed the renowned Ohio State basketball court from the Jerome Schottenstein Center and replaced it with 1,000 cubic yards of dirt, 100 tons of rock and 1,500 feet of logs in preparation for the 2009 GEICO Powersports AMA Endurocross Series.
The Endurocross Race Series showcases leading off-road amateur and professional motorcycle riders from across the world, including racing stars Taddy Blazusiak, Damon Huffman, Ricky Dietrich and Geoff Aaron.
Endurocross presents off-road racing in an indoor arena. The track is constructed to duplicate an outdoor trail with hard-rock sections as well as wooden segments that replicate fallen trees.
In addition to the natural outdoor components of the track, there are also strategically placed obstacles such as ten-feet-tall bulldozer tires.
“We take the arena down to the bare concrete floor and use a rough sketch to lay out the track,” said Mike Karsting, vice president of events for Source Interlink Media. “From there we use our creativity to make the track exciting for the crowd and also challenging and safe for the racers.”
Endurocross, a hybrid of supercross and motocross, requires speed, skill and maneuverability.
In order to win a race, Karsting said “you have to be an all-around skilled rider. You can’t go as fast as most races but you need to be able to ride with skill and speed.”
Trevor Kline, a student at the Central Ohio Technical College, will be returning as a top local amateur competitor. Kline began racing competitively at the age of four after his father introduced him to the sport.
Although he lives the life of a regular college student, his time out of school is dedicated to training at the nearby motorcycle track in Logan, Ohio.
“Some of the stuff you can’t train for unless you have your own track,” Kline said. “You can’t prepare for big tires and rocks.”
While the racing is dangerous, no one has been seriously injured. Crashes are common and riders prepare for this added complication.
“The track is so technical that people wreck often and then you have to avoid them,” Kline said. “You have to maneuver around the down rider.”
Endurocross intrigued Columbus last year with its exhibition. Ohio has a large demographic of motorcyclists and is the birthplace of the American Motorcyclist Association, which is why Endurocross keeps returning to the area.
Endurocross encourages students to attend and witness something completely unusual to the arena.
“I promise whoever attends will not be disappointed,” said Lance Bryson, director of sales and marketing for Source Interlink Media. “You will be sitting at the edge of your seat.”
The amateur practice and qualification trials are free and begin Saturday at noon. The fourth round of the Endurocross Series will begin 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Student tickets are $10.