By Michael Stewart / Executive Editor
The Meridian Star
The Meridian OHV (off-highway vehicle) Park was ground zero for motocross enthusiasts this weekend as dirt bike riders from throughout the region descended on the park for two major events.
On Saturday, 80 adults and 19 children from Mississippi and Alabama competed in a dirt bike race sanctioned by the Southeastern Cross Country Association (SECCA).
Sunday, close to 100 adults and about 25 children raced in an event sanctioned by the Southeastern Riders Association (SERA), which drew riders from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. A few riders made the trip from Arkansas to compete.
In addition to the riders, more than 400 spectators attended. Many of the visitors stayed at local hotels and ate at area restaurants, said Jerry Corley, president of The Meridian Motorcycle Association, which sponsored the races.
"It is a positive economic impact for the area," Corley said.
Both races were hare scrambles, which are typically 8-12 miles long courses through the woods in which competitors are timed through multiple laps and are separated by age, said SERA President Debbie Rudder.
There is a Pee Wee Beginners classification open to children 4-6 years of age and a 55-plus age bracket, with multiple age classes in between. There are separate competition classes for girls and women.
"It is a definitely family-oriented," Rudder said. "We have husbands, wives, sons and daughters who all ride."
The race course is challenging, Birmingham, Ala., resident Trent Whisenant said.
"You are dodging trees, other riders and dealing with the sand, which is tough here," Whisenant said.
The Meridian OHV Park where the races took place is comprised of roughly 800 acres of land managed by The Meridian Motorcycle Association with help from the city of Meridian.
The city donated to The Meridian Motorcycle Association (MMA) use of the land located off Lakeview Golf Course Road, between Causeyville Road and Highway 19 South.
In return, MMA operates and maintains the park. MMA membership fees fund a $2 million liability insurance policy for riders on the property.
"You do have to be a member to ride in the park, but is open to riding year around," Corley said.
Trails are open to dirt bike riders and all terrain vehicles.
The group also sponsors several events at the park, such as the one this past weekend.
"I think it is great," Andalusia, Ala. resident Chad Johnson said Sunday as he prepared for the race. "I am an old motocross enduro rider and this is my first hare scramble. I think it will be fun."