Dirt bike Grand Prix brings family-oriented fun to Comstock | NevadaAppeal.com

Dirt bike Grand Prix brings family-oriented fun to Comstock

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
Photo Submitted by Cory Wood George Haas of Mound House (No. 294) races Chris Bailey (No. 22), of Virginia City, in the Virginia City Grand Prix on Sunday. Haas ended up 128th overall, while Bailey finished 198th.

The roar of motorcycles in Virginia City is a common sound, but most often they are Harleys parked out in front of a watering hole.

This past weekend, however, the vroom, vroom came from the sound of dirt bikes and family fun.

The 34th annual Virginia City Grand Prix brought more than 700 motorcycle-racing enthusiasts and their families to town, in addition to the regular visitors and concert-goers in town to see country singer Lacy J. Dalton.

Reece Honea, of the Virginia City Highlands, placed first overall for Saturday’s races, and Paul Vanhorsen of Scotts Valley, Calif. took top prize Sunday. But the town was the winner in some folks’ eyes.

“It was a very positive event, and it gets bigger every year,” said Susan Sutton, executive director of the Virginia City Convention and Tourism Authority. “It was more family-oriented. A lot of these young people that do dirt biking, they come with their families, and a lot come up every year.”

All the Virginia City-area hotels and bed-and-breakfasts were booked for the weekend, and there were RVs parked over nearly every empty space east of C Street.

The family theme was evident, from the organizers, husband and wife Don and Jane Bird, of Virginia City, to the racers.

John Brain, 19, a member of the R. Kaiser Engineering team of Newcastle, Calif., came with 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, and ended up 235 overall.

There were categories for professional racers, experts, amateurs, novices, women and “bombers,” who race older or vintage bikes.

Brain, who was at the Grand Prix for the fifth year, called the race course quick and challenging.

He finished second in his Novice class and 20th overall, and said he did well, as long as he and his team weren’t hurt.

“We all did good,’ he said. “We’re all back and healthy.”

Most could say that, as the Storey County Fire Department reported 12 calls for accidents, with none being life-threatening.

Doug Wotherspoon, 42, of Reno, admits the pounding he took over the 231Ú2-mile course will come back to haunt him.

“I’m a little stiff and sore now, but I’ll really feel it tomorrow,” he said.

The races began on C Street, turned east on Union, then heads 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 the Storey County School District, Jeep Posse Search and Rescue, volunteer fire department and sheriff’s reserve.

Sgt. Chris Parsons of the Storey County Sheriff’s Office said the deputies were busy, but other than a domestic dispute and some alcohol-related arrests, there were no major incidents.

“It’s just more of crowd control, just more people. And when you increase the population, you increase our business.” he said. “The nice thing about this event is, they stay here the whole weekend so we don’t have a lot of people driving on and off the hill.”

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@ nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 351.