Track Time: Chuckwalla Valley Raceway

Chuckwalla Valley Raceway Gives Southwest Sport Riders Another Place To Play

By Ari Henning, Photography by Cali Photography

After 15 years of dedication and effort, Mickey Grana has his racetrack. "There were a lot of naysayers and rumors, people who said we weren't going to build a racetrack," Grana said at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway's inaugural event in early April. "Well, I think we've proved them wrong!"

Grana couldn't have done it without Matt Johnson and Guy Evans, the primary investors on whose property the facility sits. The pair's interest in flying prompted them to buy the old World War II airport outside Desert Center, California; but aside from the airstrip, the 1100-acre property had little value. Meanwhile, Grana had been dreaming of creating a racetrack, and as the long-standing operator of SoCal Trackdays had all the financial and demographic data to convince his friends it was a worthwhile endeavor.

Race school proprietor Ed Bargy, who'd previously designed tracks in Talladega, Alabama, and Jennings, Florida, worked closely with Grana and former AMA Pro Jason Pridmore to put the final touches on CVR. While most tracks are designed with cars in mind, CVR was developed for riders by riders, and puts motorcycles foremost. "Our number-one priority was rider safety," said Bargy, "but we also put a lot of focus on making the track fun and challenging."

The black-and-yellow paint on the curbing had barely dried before the press was invited to sample the new 2.7-mile, 17-turn circuit. The layout features an even balance of short straights and turns, with everything from off-cambers to the 10-degree-banked Bowl Turn and mini-Corkscrew Turn 8/9 downhill chicane. The freshly paved surface offers excellent grip and is very smooth, except for a few areas that we're told will be ground down in the near future. The track is all about corner speed, and favors rhythm and finesse over horsepower. It's an easy track to learn, but there are undoubtedly many secrets still to be discovered.

And Grana claims more pavement is coming soon: "We've been approved to build two more racetracks, and we'll continue to gather input to see what the riders want." Garages, observation decks, a 20,000-square-foot club- house and a 1.5-megawatt solar farm are also in the works. The plan sounds grandiose, but Grana remains confident, saying they have the permits, funding and ambition to pull it off.

Weekends are already booked through the end of the year, and track-day providers are quickly snatching up the weekdays. Visit www.chuckwallavalleyraceway.com to see the schedule, and check out www.motorcyclistonline.com to view onboard footage from the media day.

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