Craig Lew Memorial races set for this weekend

The Maui Motocross Association track in Puunene, site of this weekend’s Craig Lew Memorial State Races, is pictured. NICK SAUSSY photo

The Maui Motocross Association track in Puunene, site of this weekend’s Craig Lew Memorial State Races, is pictured. NICK SAUSSY photo

The Maui Motocross Association will host its 12th annual Craig Lew Memorial State Races at the MMA track in Puunene this weekend.

“Us, Oahu and Kauai host a state race, so we try to have a three-race series throughout the whole year,” MMA president Nick Saussy said Wednesday. “Oahu has one the Fourth of July weekend, Kauai has a race on Labor Day weekend.

“The Big Island is in the process of opening a motocross track over there on the Hilo side, so hopefully next year they will be in the loop with us, so it will be a four-island series hopefully.”

Racing starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Gates open at 6:30 a.m., registration runs from 7 to 8 and practice starts at 8:30.

Admission is $5, food concessions will be available — all of the proceeds will support MMA off-island travel.

“We’ve got bleachers and believe it or not, we’ve got a lot of shade,” Saussy said. “We planted a lot of trees six or seven years ago and they’re finally paying off now.”

Saussy expects more than 50 racers taking part in opening weekend of state competition. Friday will serve as a practice day, something that MMA emphasizes for safety.

“It keeps the injuries down,” Saussy said. “It adds a little work for us, but it’s worth it.”

The weekend will include races for adult riders on the large MMA track located behind the drag strip at Maui Raceway Park. Youth riders will also compete on the smaller, adjacent track.

“In my opinion, we have one of the best kids’ tracks in the country,” Saussy said. “We have a lot of families who race all weekend long.”

Two races per class will be held on Saturday and then one more per class on Sunday.

“We also have what we call an ‘iron team race’ where you get four riders from each island and we go out and we race and we average the scores for each team — that’s something cool that we started five years ago,” Saussy said.

The event has been going on for more than 20 years, but was named after Lew when he died just over 12 years ago after a battle with Crohn’s Disease.

“He was a former member, former rider, and mechanic,” Saussy said. “He actually got me into dirt-bike riding probably 15 years ago. It’s pretty cool to compete in an event named after him.

“Some of the people out here now never knew him, but he was the type of mechanic who would always go above and beyond to make sure your bike was perfect. He was a good friend to everybody.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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