Rain this week has certainly put the damper of outdoor activities in and around the city but it's just what the doctor ordered for organizers of this weekend's Rockstar Energy Triple Crown motocross at Blackwater Motocross Park.
Prince George is the only B.C. stop on the nationally-televised pro national MX tour this year and some of the world's top riders, including hometown favourite Jess Pettis, a 250cc pro rider, will be vying for the podium Saturday.
There's been enough rain to keep the dust down and that's made it much easier for track volunteers who haven't needed to get out the hoses to soak the dirt. Unless a significant downpour happens over the next couple days the riders should avoid the mud bog which plagued the Prince George race the past two year and race conditions should be close to ideal.
"The track is shaping up very nicely for a good weekend of racing," said Troy Wilson, vice-president of the host Prince George Motocross Association (PGMA).
"For the last couple years we've put all that sand down and the track actually needs a lot more water because the sand absorbs it all. With a few showers, the track is going to turn out really good."
Qualifying in the 250cc, 450cc, women's pro and pre-mix pro-am 125cc class starts Saturday at
9 a.m. and the flag drops on the first race at noon. Only the top 40 riders in qualifying in each class get to race. The races will be shown live on Fox Sports, the first time ever the eyes of the world will be watching Blackwater in a live telecast.
"That's why they've moved to Saturday because Sunday is NASCAR and football and it's a pretty big deal for our sport, we've never been on live TV before," said said Kourtney Lloyd, national co-ordinator for the Prince George race and a PGMA director.
"Our sport has never gotten the attention it deserves, it's not a stick-and-ball sport and it just shows where the sport is going."
The design of Blackwater makes it one of the most spectator-friendly motocross tracks in North America.
The viewing area is set on a berm overlooking the track, with its steep hills and wide-open terrain which offers unobstructed views of most of the course.
"People are excited to come here because this track is the only one like it in the country with the elevation and being able the entire track we're pretty spoiled," said Lloyd.
"We have riders who ride all over Canada and the U.S. and they say this is their favourite track and that's pretty special to us as a board of directors.
"There's not many events that come town and impact the city so much. The Pomeroy Hotel is our sponsor hotel for this event and it's booked solid. To bring about 1,000 people to our town has a big impact on our community - it's the hotels, the restaurants, it's everything. We're extremely lucky."
Lloyd advises racing fans to get there early. The track is a located off Blackwater Road, 23 kilometres south of Highway 16, about a half-hour drive from downtown. Parking for as many as 1,000 vehicles is available at the Clear Lake sawmill site and shuttle buses will be used to bring spectators on a 10-minute ride to and from the track.
The Prince George race in 2018 drew more than 3,000 spectators who were forced to park up a logging road and depend on side-by-side quads to shuttle them to the track, resulting in long wait times. The Clear Lake lot and buses used last year alleviated the congestion.
The Rockstar Energy series began last weekend in Calgary, where Pettis finished fifth in the first moto and seventh in the second, after gaining the hole shot in each race.
Other stops on the MX tour are in Minnedosa, Man., June 18; Courtland, Ont., July 13; Ottawa, July 20; Moncton, N.B., July 27; Deschambault, Que., Aug. 13; and Walton, Ont., Aug. 17.
On Sunday, a full day of racing is planned for the Future West B.C. amateur event with riders expected from all over the province. Those races will count for points in the 12-stop series and that will attract a large field of riders.
Admission prices for Blackwater this weekend are as follows: Saturday only - $35 adults, $20 kids; Sunday only - $20 adults, $10 kids; Both days - $50 adults, $30 kids. Campsites are available for $20 night (make sure to bring the bug spray).