Dirtbike Disneyland | Track Time

By John L. Stein, Photography by John L. Stein & Brian Catterson

Rod Huss, MD, is an obstetrician with a secret: He's got one of the world's most beautiful motocross tracks, built and landscaped mostly by himself, in his backyard. He maintains it as well, sometimes at 1 a.m. in the pouring rain. But what is even more remarkable about Doc Huss is that instead of keeping his track to himself, he opens it up to his friends every Saturday.

At 20 feet wide, “Doc’s Place,” as the locals call it, is narrower than most MX tracks. But it can be, because there are seldom more than 10 bikes on-track at a time. There’s a long front straight offering a choice of three intermediate-level double-jumps or an alternate rolling straightaway. Then comes a series of uphill and downhill switchbacks with high berms, more small doubles, some drop-offs, whoops and rhythm sections, all set under specimen oak trees.

A long-time street rider and occasional off-roader, Huss moved onto a bucolic 20 acres near the Central California Coast in 1989. The property was blessed with rolling hills and featured an area that looked like it would make a fun dirtbike loop, so Huss hopped aboard his Honda CT110 trailbike and rode through the weeds, letting its tires carve out a simple single-track course. But after seeing a real motocross race in ’93, he knew immediately what had to come next.

Huss also owned a little 19-horsepower Kubota tractor, complete with a 5-foot bush-hog attachment. With some help from friend and experienced motocrosser Shawn Wynn, he laid out a more formal track between the oaks, with Wynn’s racing experience improving the flow. They then used a larger tractor to properly shape the jumps, berms and whoops. Attending the ’94 Anaheim Supercross was pivotal, as well. “When I saw Jeremy McGrath fly over the finish-line jump, a light bulb went on for me,” Doc says. “I’ve worked on the track every day since.”

That meant taking on three significant challenges over the years, starting with adding native clay and a sprinkle of cement to create more stable jump faces. He also added various species of native flora, including flowery Escallonia shrubs and ice-plant trimmings donated by friend Don Thuren, along with wild pampas grass alongside the track.

An effective watering system proved to be the most vexing improvement. At first, Doc and his friends took turns hand-watering different sections with garden hoses and, later, larger 2-inch irrigation hoses equipped with fire nozzles. But the water supply could handle only one big hose at a time, which meant long breaks in the action.

Doc needed a better system, starting with irrigation trenches and a half-mile of PVC pipe to crisscross the entire track, creating an eight-circuit sprinkler system. As further evidence of his dedication to the project, the good doctor spent every Friday night in his truck for nearly two years, activating one circuit, sleeping in the cab for an hour, then awakening to turn on the next.

“I got tired of it,” Huss admits. The track needed a reservoir. So in ’04, Doc and friends scooped out a 30x40-foot basin and lined it with concrete trucked in by Ed Guajardo of Zaca Station MX. It worked. With larger delivery pipes and a new 65-horsepower John Deere diesel generator, Doc can now water the entire track in 5 minutes with the flip of a switch. There are no flags or signs displayed when it’s time. You might notice Doc park his Honda CRF450R and amble over to the generator shed. Moments later, the spray on your goggles will tell you it’s time to pull off and let the magic happen.

Scenic, scientific and thoughtful, Doc’s Place is a working model of how motocross tracks can be: aesthetically beautiful and functionally superior. While this one isn’t open to the public, hopefully someday someone will create a commercial track with the same qualities. It could be a game-changer for the sport.

By John L. Stein
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