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Syracuse Stadium Cross to hold its 1st indoor motocross racing event

Courtesy of Syracuse Stadium Cross

Motorcross racing is typically held outdoors, but the Syracuse Stadium Cross decided to hold their event indoors to make the sport more accessible to spectators.

After five years of motocross racing, David Mastropietro can recall his favorite part of the sport with confidence. It’s not the high-flying jumps or bumps across the dirt track — it’s the moment he starts his engine.

“I’ve had my fair share of gnarly wipeouts,” Mastropietro said. “But there’s no other feeling of lining up on the gate with 30 other bikers and waiting for the gates to drop, all of us trying to rush into the corner and get there first.”

Mastropietro, a sponsored racer of OPE Kawasaki, a motorcycle dealership in Auburn, will be participating in the Syracuse Stadium Cross this weekend. The indoor motocross-racing event will take place in the Coliseum at the NY State Fairgrounds, where hundreds of racers from the Northeast are expected to race.

For years, motocross racing has typically been held outdoors, but with large buildings available in the area, the Syracuse Stadium Cross moves motocross racing inside. Rob O’Connor, the event promoter for Stadium Cross, said it’s similar to outdoor racing, “with the same jumps, dirt, berms and the whoops,” but it’s indoors to make racing more spectator-friendly.

“Normally, an outdoor motor cross track is spread out over acres and acres of land so you can’t see the whole track,” O’Connor said. “But this is confined to a coliseum where you can sit in the grandstand and watch the whole race.”

At this time of year, weather is also a factor in moving motocross racing indoors. O’Connor said the stadium cross is a chance for racers to practice with their bikes before the outdoor season starts.

Races are open to all ages, with registered participants ranging from 6-year-olds to 50-year-olds. There will be 20 classes available depending on the participant’s age, the size of the motorcycle, and his or her racing ability — beginner, novice, or expert. Racers will participate in the classes they pick from, and cash prizes will be offered in the expert races while amateurs race for trophies.

O’Connor grew up riding dirt bikes and saw the Syracuse Stadium Cross as an opportunity “to mix together my job as an event promoter and something that I’ve really loved.” But considering this is the first ever Stadium Cross, he said it’s been a challenge to put the event together.

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Courtesy of Syracuse Stadium Cross

“We’re working closely with the local moto cross tracks and promoters to pick their brain,” O’Connor said. “We’ve also been promoting very heavily on social media, Facebook, billboards, radio, to get the word out — so we’re ready for a good event.”

Mastropietro, who raced in the SwitchbackMX in Butler, Pennsylvania, is looking forward to participating in an indoor track that’s close to home. He will be racing in the 25 and 30-plus-year-olds amateur races during both days.

“This is the first time that we’ve had anything like this in the area,” Mastropietro said. “It’s really family oriented, it’s something new, and people just love coming to watch bikes flying through the air.”

On Friday, racers will check-in at the coliseum and practice in the afternoon, riding on the tracks to figure out which type of tires work best for the venue’s dirt track. On Saturday, races will start in the morning and continue throughout most of the day. The average race runs for five to 10 laps, and depending on how many classes they take on, racers could be doing six to 10 races per day.

OPE Kawasaki, the title sponsor for Syracuse Stadium Cross, will donate vehicles for the races. Chris Osmun, the dealership’s store manager, sponsors many of the racers in the event, including Mastropietro.

“I’m not really looking for a return out of this,” Osmun said. “One of the main reasons I’m doing the event is to give local riders an opportunity to ride throughout the offseason.”

O’Connor plans to make this race a yearly event. Depending on this weekend’s turnout, he hopes to have two annual indoor races in the future, one in March and another in January.

In addition to racing, there will be a free “Pit Party” Friday night with live music, door prizes and contests. There will also be a free viewing party of the AMA Supercross race in Detroit Saturday night, with a DJ, food, beer, and wine.

“It’s not just a race, it’s an event that’s going to be fun for everybody, really,” O’Connor said. “It’s exciting, it’s loud, there’s motorcycles flying through the air, racing handlebar to handlebar — and there will be some crashes too, of course.”

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