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Motocross riders prepare for racing season with groomed practice in Aztec Wochit

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AZTEC — A crowd packed the parking lot March 7 at the Aztec Motocross track as more than 100 riders took turns riding over the hills and jumps.

The riders took advantage of the groomed practice one week before the start of the motocross racing series, which begins March 14.

The track will be closed for the week leading up to the opening race of the season. Aztec Motocross President Andrew Gallegos said the closure will allow the crews to make several changes, including reversing the track and adding new jumps.

Gallegos worked to start a racing series at the Aztec Motocross track last year following four years of no races. His efforts proved successful. Racers came from as far away as Colorado Springs and Phoenix to compete at the Aztec track. Gallegos said the races usually have 160 entries.

Last year, a total of 739 racers participated in the series. People coming in from out of town to race contributed to the local economy, according to Joshua Large, from the Aztec Chamber of Commerce and general manager at Presidential Inn and Suites.

Large told the Aztec City Commission in February that nearly 530 rooms were rented by motocross racers during 2019. He said the rooms were filling up by the end of February for the March 14 and 15 races.

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James Wagner and his son, Cole, 13, traveled up from Albuquerque to take advantage of the free practice opportunity at the prepped motocross track. He said they anticipate being at most of the Aztec races, although they will be skipping opening weekend because they’ll be racing in Tularosa that day.

Cole said he has been racing for 10 years and has made a lot of friends at the track. His favorite part of racing is spending time with his friends.

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“I like the jumps here and the hills,” Cole said about the Aztec track.

Aztec’s course is built on tall hills, which Gallegos said means the hills have more altitude changes and allow for larger jumps than many other courses.

Keilee Leeds, 16, began racing four or five years ago when her dad introduced her to the sport.

“I like the competition part of it,” she said.

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The City of Aztec has provided Aztec Motocross with additional support this year, including approving $5,000 for updates and maintenance of the course.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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