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Races get back on track for Bike Week

Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on July 19, 2018 10:49AM

The green light is on for another round of motorcycle racing during Pendleton Bike Week.

And a new promoter said some hard work and luck could generate a pro racing series.

Boise-based organizer and promoter Ron Dillon canceled short-track motorcycle races in the Round-Up Arena after humdrum attendance for two events in 2017. Pendleton Bike Week, meanwhile, saw a 25 percent increase in attendance last year with about 20,000 participants. Dillon’s move opened the door for 41Live! to put on Saturday’s “Summer Chute Out in Pendleton.”

Bob Richards and his son Max Richards operate 41Live! from Rancho Cordova, California. Bob Richards said a fellow promoter caught wind of the opportunity in Pendleton and suggested 41Live! should give it go. He said the company is not large but handles 22 motorcycle-related events a year. About five weeks ago, he said, 41Live! started the engine on racing in Pendleton and “had to put our heads down” given the short time frame. The father and son team drove nearly a full day to Pendleton to meet with the Round-Up representatives and check out the arena. That trip sealed the deal.

“Once we saw the venue, we said OK,” he said.

Since then, the Round-Up, city officials and community leaders extended their hands to help. The Summer Chute Out runs concurrent with Bike Week and features flat track races for local pro and amateurs, plus live music, food and beverages. The races are “outlaw,” meaning no racing association is sanctioning the event.

“This event is a combination of competition and entertainment,” Richards said.

Round-Up General Manager Casey Beard said Richard’s operation came with high recommendations for the ability to take the races to another level.

“The goal was always to try to get this to a major, national event,” he said, “and this is an operation to do that.”

A TV station specializing in motorsports covered last year’s races, and Beard said the crew praised the venue as a “gem” and unique to the sport. Clearly the site can handle thousands of fans hungry for music or rodeo, he said, as the long-standing Pendleton Round-Up and burgeoning Pendleton Whisky Fest demonstrate, and the Chute Out could be another good fit. Beard said the association will evaluate the event to determine if it has a future here.

Beard also said the races are another way for the Round-Up Association to grow the range of activities for the arena and grounds, draw more people to Pendleton and further the mission to benefit the community.

Richards said he hopes to build on the work Dillon started and aims to surpass 2,000 in ticket sales. Some good races on fast bikes, decent ticket sales and solid photos of the show, he said, could be enough fuel to entice a pro series to take off in Pendleton.

The Summer Chute Out in Pendleton is Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. at the Pendleton Round-Up Arena. Tickets cost $25. For more information, visit 41live.com.


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