Family fun, loud and fast

Photos by Amy Lisenbe/Nevada Appeal

Photos by Amy Lisenbe/Nevada Appeal

By 5 p.m. Sunday, the air in northern Mound House will be filled with the roar of engines.

That's when the quads and dirt bikes start another spring of seeing who is the fastest of them all at the Thunder Bowl Speedway for the Flat Track Racing Spring Series. The track is located on Thunder Road off Industrial Parkway.

Brian Starbuck, of Pleasant Valley, said racing at the Mound House track was a family affair. He along with his 11-year-old daughter Lucia and 6-year-old son Joe all take their turns on the track.

"It's fun, and almost all the riders out there are kids," he said. "It's only $15 for a kid to race. Some people just bring their kids and don't ride at all, but bring the RV, barbecue and watch the kids."

He said that while some people work on their bikes or quads to make them faster, he and his kids took theirs right from the showroom to the track.

"On quads they have regulators so you can adjust the top speed," he said. His daughter Lucia will make the quad go as fast as possible, but first-year rider Joe doesn't go as fast.

"Everyone gets a participation ribbon and as long as he gets that, he's happy," Starbuck said.

Not just the racing but the whole atmosphere is conducive to families, he said, adding that Joe brings his Hot Wheels toys and plays with other children when they're not racing.

The track is a flat TT track, with left and right turns and a jump, said owner Ed Brandenburg, where dirt bike and quad aficionados have been racing for 10 years. He said he's going to have racing on the circle track this year and is working on installing an obstacle course.

Starbuck said on the TT track skill counts more than speed, but on the circle track, some bikes go up to 90 mph.

"On that track (TT) you can't be going that fast," he said. "When we go to the oval, then it's more about how fast."

Starbuck said his family prefers the track to pleasure riding around Nevada's hills.

"It's the challenge of the competition," he said. "Riding around the hills is fun but not as fun as having guys next to you that you're racing against."

The kids do more than race, they also help out after the race.

"They help me when I bring them home from the track," he said. "We clean the mud off and change the oil and check the tires."

Brandenburg said the number of racers at his track has risen sharply in the past few years.

"We started with probably 16 to 25 riders and we're doing 80 to 100 every event," he said. About 6,300 people raced last year and Brandenburg said he hoped for even more participants.

"The more the merrier," he said. "More are welcome."

The Brandenburg family has been into racing big time, he said.

"We were racing at the local track in Carson City, and knew it was going to be closing, so we decided to build our own dirt track," he said. "It's totally family-oriented. I have anywhere from 4 years old to 60. Grandpa will be racing in one division, son or daughter in another and the kids in another."

He said men and women race against each other.

"We try to encourage the ladies to drive with the men," he said. "They're just as good drivers."

It's also a safe activity, despite the speed and jumps, he said.

"We've had very few injuries," he said. "I'm the only race track in Northern Nevada that keeps an ambulance on-site while we're racing and Care Flight is only 18 minutes away."

The track is only open on weekends, and most of the spectators are kin to the racers, though Brandenburg hopes that will increase. He plans on upgrading the track as much as he can, and said he eventually will have things like a concession stand. Right now it's bring your own dinner.

There are short-track races, flat-track races on a 3/8-mile track with left and right turns and the one jump.

"This is a throwback to the '70s flat-track racing," he said. "The guys want to circle-track race and we're going to put a couple of those events on this year."

Brandenburg also hopes to add auto racing in the future, with mini-stocks and mini-modifieds.

"I'm seeing a real good race facility going on here," he said. "We'll accommodate cars, bikes and quads."

He said once the 3-acre obstacle course is open, he'll have three venues, TT, circle and the obstacle.

He hopes his track gives families an alternative to riding off-road and inadvertently going onto private property, he said, and the activity keeps kids from getting into other kinds of trouble.

Thunder Bowl has racing in the spring and summer, but not the fall, said Brandenburg. "It gets too cold in the fall," he said. "The little guys freeze to death and so do I."

People come from all over the region to race at Thunderbowl, he said, and some from out of state. They have all kinds of quads and dirt bikes.

"What I'm trying to do is accommodate all regardless of age or the size of their bike," he said. "Out here in the West, racing isn't as prevalent as it is, say in the South," he said. "But it's getting better."

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 881-7351.

2008 Spring Series

April 6 Round 1 TT (Right / Left)

April 20 Round 2 TT

May 3 Round 3 TT

May 17 Round 4 ST (Oval)

May 31 Round 5 ST

June 14 Round 6 ST

June 28 Round 7 TT

2008 Summer Series

July 12 Round 1 TT

July 26 Round 2 TT

Aug 9 Round 3 ST

Aug 23 Round 4 ST

Sept 6 Round 5 ST

Sept 21 Round 6 TT

Oct 5 Round 7 TT

Saturday Night Racing Under the Lights

Practice 5 p.m.

Racing Starts 6 p.m.

Sunday Racing

Practice 9 a.m.

Racing Starts 10 a.m.

Race Fees

Pro Entry: $35 (with First Entry)

First Entry: $35

Additional Entries: $15 (with First Entry)

Kids 12 & under Entry: $15

Spectators: $10


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