Listen closely and you’ll hear an economic engine – actually more than 1,000 engines – revving up north of Rochester this week.
Thousands of spectators and riders are making the annual pilgrimage to Spring Creek Motocross Park, near Millville, for the Toyota Motocross Championship’s amateur and pro races this weekend.
That means a shot of an estimated $4 million of financial fuel to fill the tanks of area businesses and nonprofits.
“ It is our biggest week of the year… by far,” says Fran Graves, who owns Fall’s BP gas station in Zumbro Falls. Throughout the year he tracks the races closely to plan his supplies and staffing. For this weekend, he “stocks up on pretty much everything” and adds extra staffing to selll food for campers and gas to fill up cars and RVs.
Spring Creek General Manager Mike Quinn is expecting about 1,000 amateur riders for the Donny Schmit Memorial races on Friday and Saturday and 150 professional riders for the big event on Sunday – the finale to professional races. The track opened its gates Wednesday for fans and riders.
Last year the Sunday race brought in about 30,000 spectators, Quinn says.
Those kinds of numbers, coupled with thousands of RVs camping on the track grounds during the four day event, means lots money and not just for businesses.
Several nonprofit organizations, like Elgin-Millville prom committee, Plainview Soccer Club and the Lake City Kiwanis Club, sell food to raise money or do chores like parking cars in return for a donation from Spring Creek owners Greta and John Martin.
“We have a captive crowd that is hot and hungry,” says Jolyne Rutz of the Kiwanis Club. “We clear $3,000 to $3,500” in one day of selling sweet corn and hot-dogs in a stand next to the track on Sunday, she said.
That money funds Kiwanis projects such as a reading program and a Christmas toy giveaway.
Rochester businesses, as varied as Ziegler Cat and Herold Flags, also get a piece of the action. Ziegler provides machinery like a bulldozer, skid loader and lighting systems.
Herold Flags is the source for the track’s display of 50 state flags plus international flags representing riders’ home countries. Owner Lee Herold says the track spent about $1,000 this year replacing and adding flags.
Though Quinn estimates about 1,000 to 1,200 RVs camp at the track for the event, many spectators and racers stay at area hotels, like Holiday Inn South at 1630 S. Broadway in Rochester.
The hotel sets aside its north parking during the events for teams to park their trailers and work on motorcycles, General Manager Georgianne Johnson said. That in turn attracts fans to visit with the riders and eat or stay at the hotel.
“We are booked up and the bulk of the rooms for the next few days for the motocross,” she said. The hotel has 195 rooms.
“We’ve got a long history with them (race teams and fans),” Johnson say.