With its acquisition of a permanent racetrack, the Marianas Racing Association will be able to continue the legacy of the people who made the sport a significant part of the community.
The land (former CowTown Raceway Park in Marpi) where the Marianas Motocross Park will be built was officially signed over to MRA via a memorandum of understanding. Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, Department of Public Lands Secretary Marianne Teregeyo, Department of Community and Cultural Affairs outgoing secretary Robert Hunter, and MRA officials Steve Sablan and Cuki Alvarez signed the MOU in a brief ceremony yesterday at the Kan Pacific grounds.
Alvarez, whose father Raymond Sr. founded the Saipan Motorcross Club that introduced the sport to the Commonwealth in the late ’70s, recalled how motocross races were moved from one place to another in a span of nearly four decades and had its last event in 2007. He added that no matter how many times the sport had to cease holding races, it always finds a way to make a comeback. Now, with the sport’s revival along with getting their old home back, Alvarez, the MRA vice president, said they will be carrying on the motocross legacy in the CNMI.
Sablan, who was among the first dirt bike riders on the islands, echoed Alvarez’s sentiments, saying that though motocross races took repeated breaks, the people’s love for the sport was never lost.
“It’s in everyone’s heart over the years,” said the MRA president, as he thanked the Torres administration and various government agencies for their consideration and generosity in signing over the Marpi land to MRA to serve as venue for their events and other motocross activities, such as ATV races.
For future generations
The MOU signing was witnessed by several government officials and MRA members and supporters, including young riders.
“This is for the kids, for the younger generation and I hope when it’s their time to lead, they will do the same in keeping motocross alive in the CNMI,” said Torres.
Twelve-year-old Nanaka Celis is among the young riders excited to race at the Marianas Motocross Park and she sees having a permanent racetrack as a big opportunity to improve their skills faster. Celis and the other young riders currently utilize the make-shift course at the baseball field at the Kan Pacific and although they are sometimes allowed to use the course for adult riders, MRA believes a track appropriate for their age and skill level is a must.
“I’ve never been to CowTown before. All I see are videos and pictures of my dad,” said Celis, whose father Dave was among the top riders on island before motocross took a break in the late 2000s.
Shane Alvarez had been to CowTown and in fact used to ride dirt bikes and ATVs at the raceway when he was still in grade school.
“I can’t wait to come back to CowTown. It’s such an awesome track before and I know it’s going to get better now that we will have the Marianas Motocross Park,” Alvarez said.
MRA volunteer Eleanor Cepeda, whose husband Melvin and their daughters used to race at the Marpi facility, is also upbeat on the prospects of watching regular races at the Marianas Motocross Park and seeing families gather together to support the riders and have fun.
“Returning to CowTown brings back a lot of good memories on and off the racetrack,” Cepeda said.