The cool chill of morning mist, the sounds of racing engines and the smell of burnt rubber filled the air at Camp Pendleton’s Marine Corps Air Station during the second “Fun Day on the Runway,” Sept. 24.
The motorcycle track day, training and safety event, hosted by Semper Ride, featured classes and clinics on bike safety, ramp and street freestyle demonstrations, a bike show competition and vendors to educate Marines, sailors and their family members about motorcycle safety.
The event catered to new and experienced riders who could reach top-notch speeds on the half-mile-long runway and practice drills learned during the beginner, intermediate and advanced riders’ courses offered on base.
“We have track days like this so our riders can test their speeds on the runway where it’s a safe and controlled environment rather than out on the highway,” said Jerry Ritschel, an instructor for the rider-safety courses offered on base. “It really gives them the opportunity to just ride their ride without the dangers of being out on the road.”
The event opened with a screening of the safety film “Semper Ride,” which continually played throughout the day. Semper Ride was created in response to the increasing number of motorcycle fatalities and accidents among Marines. The film features professional riders conducting stunts and challenging techniques while discussing motorcycle safety tips.
“The goal of this event is to educate our military personnel and raise awareness for motorcycle safety,” said Wally Trevains, deputy operations manager, Marine Corps Installations West. “The riders are really limited when they take the classes in the parking lot, but out here on the runway they can truly put the techniques they learned to the test.”
The 43 riders were separated into groups based on their skill level and were organized to reach speeds up to 100 mph on the straight-a-ways and conduct maneuvers and techniques that were observed by instructors.
“If you want to test out your skill and speed, this is the place to do it,” said Sgt. Dustin Woods, a chemical biological radiological nuclear defense specialist with 9th Communications Battalion. “Too often, we see Marines getting hurt out in town being risky on their bikes. The skills learned here really help you master riding techniques. Everyone should take these classes and come out for the track days.”