ATV riders count on national organizations like the AMA, ATVA, ASA and the NOHVCC to keep our right to ride and race. But, sometimes local ATV clubs are just as influential and active as these large organizations in the fight for riding freedom. Two clubs, one small and one large, are great examples of the big local effort to keep trails public and to crown fast racers.
Plenty of people meet on the Internet. Some look for companionship, some for camaraderie and others for advice. The 14 Mins club was formed by two grown men who only live 10 miles apart. Did they do it for friendship or advice? No, they did it via ATVConnection.com to figure out who had the fastest Yamaha 660R Raptor.
Mark Siegmund and Bob Craycraft quickly became race buddies and friends. To see them now, you’d think they were childhood pals. It was no surprise these two-speed demons both wanted a big motor, and they chose the 660R Raptor to supply their need for speed.
The club they formed has two key ingredients. Siegmund supplied the land, and Craycraft furnished the horsepower. Craycraft owns Craycraft Racing, which is a primary sponsor of the club and made the club possible. Most of the initial members had Raptors and Craycraft worked his magic on the quads.
Craycraft isn’t willing to share his secret, but he claims to have found a way to make Raptors come alive. He says the Raptors he doctors are faster than some of the bigger factory names. As you can imagine, when they started making these claims on ATVConnection.com, it started making waves. And we all know the only way to solve this kind of challenge is to hold a race; that’s exactly what they did.
A group of 75 racers from all over the region gathered on a weekend in the summer of 2002 to see who was fast and who was full of it. This was good ol’ boy-style drag racing. No lights, no bracket racing, just a few classes and the first to the end won. The first year, they had 125 spectators. The numbers have doubled to 150 racers and 300 spectators since the inaugural event.
There is another thing that was a little different about these get-togethers. It wasn’t the overwhelming number of Raptors or DS650s, or even the fact that they roast pigs all day. It was that the club paid for everything, and it was free to race! If that wasn’t enough, it also gave T-shirts and trophies.
Southern hospitality shines through on these events. “If people are going to drive from several states away, the least we can do is feed them and help them work on their bike,” Siegmund said. Last year’s race drew folks from California, New Mexico, Kentucky, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana and Mississippi, among others.
The 5-year plan for 14 Mins is to have a full drag track with all the latest technology. Because this club isn’t a business, and the expenses come out of personal pockets, the club is upgrading slowly. If possible, they’d like to have up to six drag events a year, with a big race featuring all the food and hoopla.
The 14 Mins club, even though it is serious about speed, encourages everyone to race and have fun, even if it’s on a six- or seven-second bike.
The SLTrailblazers group formed in the mid-1990s. It was a small club with a big idea when it partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Finally, in 1998, the club formed an official agreement with the Corps.
The club’s focus is the 1,000 acres of land on the Bonnet Carre’ Spillway, north of New Orleans. The Spillway is used for overflow from the Mississippi River and is perfect for ATV riding. The SLTrailblazers have brought order to the land, and many improvements have come since it took over. Riders in the area give a lot of credit to the SLTrailblazers and the good things that have happened since the club became a part of the Spillway. One rider said that before the club got involved, fights would break out in the area and anything could happen when large groups showed up. Now, the Spillway is a place family ride as local law enforcement patrol the area with ATVs.
The club has done a lot for off-road riding in the area. Having the Corps as a partner has allowed the SLTrailblazers to offer a controlled riding facility to anyone with an ATV or motorcycle. Because of this success, the club is searching for more places to turn into riding facilities. To become a member of the SLTrailblazers, $20 secures an annual membership. With membership comes a club newsletter, a free ATV safety riding course and networking with other club members. The club meets on the second Thursday of the month and makes trips to area riding facilities as often as possible. It even goes to Glamis on Thanksgiving!
If you live in the southern Louisiana area and would like to join a club that is doing good things, visit www.sltrailblazers.org.