PALA, Calif. --
Marines from Marine Corps Installations -West conducted off road motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle training while building camaraderie and forming new bonds during the Traffic Safety Program’s Military Dirt Days at the Pala Raceway, June 5.
Military Dirt Days is the Traffic Safety Program’s initiative to give motocross and ATV riders their required training in a controlled environment.
“We wanted to focus on the dirt side of riding, because we believe it’s a safe environment, and you can transfer some of the skills from the dirt to the road,” said Blaine Bromwell, traffic safety manager for MCI-W. “Focus has been on the sport bikes on the street and were kind of lacking on focus with the off-road riders.”
The push to educate Marines on motorcycle safety expanded three years ago to include off-road sports. This event is the second Military Dirt Day that provided course completion certificates upon fulfillment of the required morning clinics.
With different courses set up to accommodate a variety of riding levels, Marines learned basic controls and safety while others were separated into groups to go through skill specific, advanced clinics. This year advanced clinics for the ATV riders were included in the itinerary as well.
“The problem we had when trying to do this on base is that Camp Pendleton has limited space with a lot of restricted facilities,” said Bromwell. “[Pala Raceway] is a better venue for the professionals to teach these Marines how to ride.”
To help teach the Marines to ride safely, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation provided equipment and student dirt bikes, and instructors to conduct the courses.
“The first military class we did, we had three girls and they were so excited by the end of the day,” said Laurie Cary, an MSF certified dirt bike instructor with Coach to Ride. “One of the ladies told me she was going to go home, talk to her husband and get her kids involved. To me, that was super exciting because I was able to expose people to something really awesome.”
By taking advantage of opportunities to gain new experience and more practice time, Marines are more likely to retain and gain more safety skills.
“This is a perishable skill, so they need to continue to come out and ride,” said Bromwell.