Riding dirt bikes and making a living in the pro ranks is difficult on so many levels. Talent is key of course, but a lot of riders simply run out of time and money to pursue their dreams beyond regional racing. Most ride for life but settle back on traditional jobs to support their habit.
But John Steiner figured out how to keep his Motocross dream alive by combining his passion for riding and love of the sport with a technical intellect that's given him a dream job. After racing competitively in his early years and then learning the art of earth moving through a job in excavation, Steiner started MX Track Builders eight years ago.
Today, MX Track Builders is one of the leading Motocross track construction companies in the nation. Steiner designs and builds Motocross, Supercross and Arenacross tracks internationally with more than 100 private and dozens of public dirt bike racing tracks developed under their name.
MX Track Builders provides full service construction from track concept to completion with a focus on form, function and aesthetics. The end result? A work of art sculpted from the earth, created to get ridden all over, and worthy of throwing roost.
Business Name: MX Track Builders
Year Founded: 2006
Who Founded: John Steiner
Where Headquartered: San Diego, California
Notable tracks built: In addition to the hundreds of private tracks we have completed throughout the United States, here are a few of our favorite projects to date:
Average construction time: Site topography, project scope, and budget vary from project to project and therefore, so does the duration of each build.
- Motocross: One to two weeks and sometimes more depending on the scope of the project. Most private tracks are one-week builds. Public tracks typically require more dirt moving and will therefore require more time.
- Supercross: One week
- Arenacross: Two to three days
Contact email: email@example.com
1. How did you get into the Motocross track building business?
From a young age, I grew up racing Motocross very competitively. I was working for an excavation company when I realized that my knowledge and experience in both Motocross tracks and excavation could be integrated to form a Motocross track construction company. It was perfect, my love for racing and passion for earth moving forged the ultimate "Dream Job." In 2006, I started MX Track Builders and the rest is history.
2. Your company builds and designs dirt bike tracks, can a client design their own and give you the plans for the construction side?
Yes, absolutely. Although more often times than not our customers give us free reign over the design aspect. We see a lot of private construction plans come in the form of a squiggly sketch on a napkin. Even with these we are able to collaborate with our customers to combine our skillset, and their squiggly napkin sketch to still arrive at the same conclusion; an extraordinary track that is as spectacular to ride as it is to look at. For those customers looking for a more professional design plan, we offer professionally rendered conceptual design services. This allows our customers the ability to visualize track concepts prior to the construction process. These plans also ensure that the track is designed efficiently and accurately to the site.
3. Are you limited to local resources, i.e. dirt, to build or do you truck in what you need?
For most projects we excavate on-site to generate dirt for the track. The methods and resources used to generate dirt on-site vary from job to job based on site topography, project scope, and budget. One thing that remains the same is that we always want to build with a, "rock free" soil. Importing dirt is always a last resort because of the combined trucking and material costs. For projects where the dirt is unfavorable, we will still typically construct the core of the track with the existing dirt on-site and then import a, "top coat" to provide an optimal riding surface and reduce the amount of material to be trucked and purchased. It is very common to import dirt for indoor track construction.
4. Are all Motocross tracks more or less made up of the same type of soil percentages or can you construct one primarily of sand and another clay?
Soil composition varies greatly based on location. Specific styles of tracks favor different soil types. When we construct a Supercross or Arenacross track, we want a hard packing, yet water-shedding surface. A mixture of 25 percent sand and 75 percent clay is best. The sand allows for water drainage and the clay provides the hard pack aspect. Most dirt bike tracks we build are limited to the natural soil on-site and so we very rarely get to choose. From my experience, the optimal soil composition for a Motocross track is personal preference. As a builder/rider I like to ride and build Motocross tracks that have a higher percentage of sand than clay, these tracks get rough and develop lines.
5. Do most Motocross tracks have similar blueprints or can whoops, jumps, etc. go anywhere within the track design?
Every track that we build is as unique as the environment it's created in. Before we build a Motocross track, we survey the topography of the area we are about to build and identify unique areas that can be created into fun track features. We use track features such as whoops and jumps to control the speed, flow, and the degree of difficulty of a track.
6. What's harder to build - an Arenacross track, Motocross track or Supercross track?
I wouldn't necessarily say that one track is more difficult to build than the other. At this point, we have a really good system in place for each style of track we are building. You could say we have it down to a science now. The challenge usually comes from the conditions we contend with on-site. We take on the elements of nature every time we set out to build a track and they don't always pan out in our favor. Freezing temps, rain, unfavorable soil, and rock are just a few factors that can slow down progress and make for a challenging build.
7. When you're done and you see perfection is it hard to accept your creation is going to get ridden all over?
That is a great question, and the answer is Yes! A lot, and I mean a lot, of working hours goes into creating a dirt bike track that is aesthetically pleasing. There is definitely an artistic aspect that goes into the creation of these tracks and they truly are a form of beauty to look at once they are all shaped up and complete. But, I also know that one of the coolest feelings for our customers is that opportunity to ride onto a brand new track, untouched by a motorcycle, and get to spin the first lap. For that reason, it's worth it to me!
8. What does maintenance and upkeep entail?
For the riders looking to keep their track in tiptop shape, they will need to spend some time maintaining and preparing their track. The preferred condition of a track's riding surface, soil composition, and annual precipitation will determine the amount of maintenance necessary to maintain its quality. Track surface preparation may include cultivating to break up the hard packed soil (we avoid jump take-offs and landings). Then, watering the cultivated soil for dust prevention and optimal traction. Lastly, raking/dragging the track surface to break up any large chunks of dirt. If the jump take-offs and landings are in need of some attention, fill the holes and ruts with dirt and compact. The occasional use of weed killer might be necessary to prevent the nuisance of weeds taking over your track.
9. Do you or the track builders get dibs on who rides the first dirt bike on a newly constructed Motocross track?
(Laughs) We leave that privilege to our customers!
Interview with John Steiner
Written By: AndrewT