Virginia City's first motorcycle event of the season is this weekend and it has nothing to do with Harleys and everything to do with family and tradition.
The Virginia City Grand Prix will get started in a roar of engines and a cloud of dust and exhaust on C Street at 10 a.m. Saturday, for its 35th year.
Several generations race in the Grand Prix, a 25-30 mile course that goes through town along Union Street and Six Mile Canyon Road, then follows trails and old dirt roads from the Comstock days and even hits SR 341, the truck route.
Six Mile Canyon Road will be closed and the truck route will be open, but with controls, according to Storey County dispatch.
Cliff McCain, owner of the Washoe Club usually rides, as do his wife, children, nephews and nieces.
"There's about 800 participants in the race itself, and about 3,000 people that will hit town," he said, adding that he'll be too busy working in the bar to race himself this year.
"It's a good family event all the way around, with a lot of support from the town," he said.
McCain's teenage son, Jake, who finished 12th overall in novice class and third in open novice class in 2007, will hit the dirt again and hopes to better his marks.
"I think I'm going to be in the top 30 out of experts and amateurs and that will be really good for me," he said.
Jake rides a YZ 450 Yamaha, and will race in the amateur classes. He said novice, amateur and expert are like small, medium and large, with amateur being the medium class.
"I'm really just trying to beat my best friend, Matt Zulim," he said. "He's been faster than me every year. Beating him is my main goal."
Local families join riders from all over the country to compete in Professional, Amateur, Novice, Bomber (vintage), or Women's classes.
The family theme extends from the organizers, husband and wife Don and Jane Bird, of Virginia City, to the racers.
Last year John Brain, 19, a member of the R. Kaiser Engineering team of Newcastle, Calif., brought his family, as did team member Robin Kaiser.
"This is where we get our biggest crowds," Kaiser, 16, said. "It's our family vacation; we all come up for the weekend."
She raced her Kawasaki to a 13th place finish in the women's category in 2007, and ended up 235 overall.
Brain, who finished second last year in the Novice Class, called the race quick and challenging.
The races begin on C Street, turn east on Union, then head out to old mining roads that circle around the historic town, from Six Mile Canyon Road to the SR 341 truck route.
Organizers of the event donate proceeds to area causes, including the Storey County School District, Jeep Posse Search and Rescue, volunteer fire department and sheriff's reserve.
The event is put on by the Virginia City Motorcycle Club, which also produces the Virginia City Motorcycle Marathon each fall. Both events raise funds for Storey County needs, including the school district, the Jeep Posse Search and Rescue, volunteer fire department and sheriff's reserve.
And even though the races begin Saturday, it's still not too late to sign up.
Registration will be from 4 to 8 p.m. today and Saturday at the Washoe Club, and 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. in the pit area on Saturday and Sunday.
Riders need spark arrestors, which will be checked before and after the races, and racers much pass technical inspections.
Most of the Virginia City-area hotels and bed-and-breakfasts are booked for the weekend, so race-goers who want to spend the night should call around before coming to town, said Patrick Gilmore of the Virginia City Visitors Center.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 881-7351.
If You Go
WHAT: Virginia City Grand Prix
WHEN: 10 a.m., Saturday and Sunday
WHERE: C Street, Virginia City
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