I've built my fair share of motocross tracks over the years. Some were big, some were very small, but nonetheless, I've learned a lot about the building process along the way. In this post, I'll share everything I've learned and teach you exactly how to build a motocross track, from planning and design, to track maintenance.
How much space do I need?
When you're designing a track, it's obvious that a bigger space is always going to be better. But if you're lucky enough to have a piece of land, or even a back yard that's big enough to ride your dirt bike in, then building a motocross track will be possible. You'll be surprised at what you can do with just a single acre of land, especially if you're building the track for your kids to ride their 50's on.
Planning your motocross track
Neighbours and the surrounding area
Neighbours and locals can cause big problems for motocross track owners. The track you can see in the main image above was shut down by the local council for 10 years. This was simply because of noise complaints from the neighbouring village. The farmer was finally allowed to open it back up, but now we can only ride it once per month!
With this in mind, you need to give careful consideration to your planned track location. You don't want to spend hundreds of hours building a motocross track, just for it to be shut down in the first week of riding.
The thing most people forget to consider when building a motocross track is insurance. This won't be an issue if you're building the track for your own use, or for the use of your close family, but if you're opening the track up to the public, you'll definitely need it.
Accidents and injuries are bound to happen in our sport, but just because they're inevitable, it doesn't mean people won't try to hold you liable when it happens to them. Many riders will not accept responsibility for their mistake, and they will instead try to blame the track. This could cost you a lot of money, so cover yourself by getting a fully comprehensive liability insurance plan.
Depending on how you plan to use the track, insurance can get expensive, so it's worth looking into this before you start building the track. You should also have a waiver and release of liability that every rider signs before riding there. To make sure every rider signs, it's a good idea to make the track members only, they can sign the form when they create their membership.
It's also a good idea to install multiple cameras around the track, this protects you from false claims and fabricated allegations.
Access and parking
If you plan to open your motocross track up to the public, think about access and parking before filling the whole patch of land up with the actual track. Motocross racers love RV's and trailers, so you'll need lots of space, preferably on a flat part of the land.
Think about access for water trucks, bulldozers, and mini excavators, even after the track is finished. Leave enough space to get all the way around the track; and remember the track surface won't last forever, so you'll need to get large vehicles around the track for grading. This is best done with a large box blade pulled by a tractor, so the track will need to be fairly wide.
Designing a motocross track
The best way to get started with designing your track, is to get on your bike and ride around the land where the track will be built. Put ropes across the proposed parking area, and spend some time riding around the usable part of the land. Do you have trees or hedges that you can build berms around? Are there natural jumps that you can work with, or hills that you can build step-ups and step-downs into?
Any natural feature should be put to good use, as it will reduce the amount of soil needed. Remember, building any type of obstacle will require lots of dirt, so the less you have to dig up, or bring from elsewhere, the better.
When you have a good idea of how you want the track to look, measure the perimeter, and draw out a basic plan to scale. Include any hedges, trees, or obstructions; mark the parking area, and get creative with a design.
Keep the track wide enough for overtaking, and if you plan on holding races there, have a nice wide lane at the start for the gate. And don't forget that you'll need to allow access for grading machinery and maintenance.
Add some nice long straights, but be very mindful of jump placement. Remember, not every rider can hit a jump in 5th gear pinned, and you don't want riders braking before jumps, so put them shortly after corners.
Unless your track is built on the side of a hill, proper drainage will be essential. The dirt around the track can get very compacted, especially in high clay content soil, this means water won't soak in as easily. Just a small downpour can easily flood a track with no drainage, so think carefully as you're designing the layout.
The best way to get around this is to keep the track slightly raised so the water runs straight off. Consider leaving plenty of area in between lanes for the water to flow into. You can then add a culvert that will drain the water to a preferred area away from the main track.
How to build a motocross track
When you have a rough design drawn out, and some good ideas, you can begin the track construction. Start at the furthest point away from the entrance, this way you won't be needlessly driving heavy machinery over finished parts of the track.
Whether you're using the natural contours of the land, or building on a flat field, you'll probably have to bring in dirt at some point. You should use clay based dirt, the more clay the better, this helps to prevent rutting on jumps, which means less maintenance for you.
The clay itself is fairly cheap, but getting somebody to bring it to you can cost a lot. A good tip that we've used is to put a sign up near the track, or post to social media, to let people know they can dump their dirt on your land.
You'll be surprised at how much you get, especially if there are any new houses being built close by. Even if it isn't clay based, you can use it for the base, and use clay for the top layer. Try to use at least 2 feet of clay to coat your jumps and berms.
Larger tracks will most certainly need a bulldozer, you can cut out the shape of the track in a single pass (sometimes) and use the cut off dirt for jumps and berms. A smaller skid steer like the Caterpillar 287 C will also do a good job, and you can use these to cut down around the edges for drainage.
An excavator will also come in very handy. You can use a small excavator for building and shaping jumps and berms. And you'll need one for digging your drainage ditches and culvert channels.
Jumps and whoops can really eat up all of your dirt, if you have any large boulders or logs, you can use these to fill the jump and save on dirt, they'll also give the dirt something to cling too.
Make the jumps nice and long, so they don't throw you around, or buck you off as you leave the lip. And try to make them around 3:1 (3 length: 1 height); meaning if the jump is 5 feet high, it needs to be 15 feet long. With this ratio the jump will carry you a good distance, and you'll also get some good height.
Another good tip is to make the jumps as wide as possible. This means there will be more lines that riders can take, so they won't be tearing up the same part of the jump during every pass.
If you think this sounds like too much hard work, and if you've got plenty of money to throw at this, you could get the track built for you. There are plenty of professional track builders around like these guys.
How long will it take to build a motocross track?
This can depend on the soil, if the land needs clearing, the machinery, and who is operating the machinery. With a good size bulldozer like the caterpillar D6, and an experienced operator, you could build a 3 acre track on cleared land in 2 to 3 days if you worked hard all day.
You now know how to build a motocross track
With all of this in mind you should now have a good idea of where to start with your track, and how to get the project off to a start. Design and planning are the most important things to get right, take your time and you'll have an awesome track that you're really proud of.
One more thing to bare in mind: If you're still progressing in the sport, don't be afraid to build smaller jumps, or even a smaller track. You can always go back in a few months and make everything bigger as you gain more experience!
Thanks for checking out this post!