So many of favorite summer events have been canceled or postponed this year as a result of COVID-19, but one of the most action-packed events to take place in the area is ready to roll. The Brick Mine Pro Hillclimb sponsored by the Eagle Ridge Motorcycle Club and the Pembina Gorge Dirt Riders is ready to tear to it up beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 3 near the Brick Mine Bridge in beautiful Wahalla.
“This idea has been in the minds of many individuals over the years being that the Brick Mine Hill is naturally long and steep; it has great potential for the sport of motorcycle hillclimbing because we are always looking for a challenge,” Shawn Jelinek shared.
While the history of the hill goes back a lot further in local history as it was formerly used as a site to mine bricks, hence the name "Brick Mine", the use for the 750 foot incline as a challenging motorcycle climb started in December of 2015. It was then that a few local riders contacted the landowners, the Hornung Family, to ask if a hillclimb event could be held on their land.
“Due to the size (750') and difficulty of the hill, it was decided to run it as a professional event instead of the amateur format used in Fordville. Professional hillclimb events run fewer classes and generally have more skilled riders that attempt to climb a more challenging hill than an amateur event,”explained Jelinek
Classes at a professional event include 450cc, 700cc, Open, and Verticross. Most professional events allow riders to run any sort of tires or fuel they wish to help them climb the hill faster. Some riders choose to run bikes that run on 100% nitromethane for added power and use tires that have metal chains or studs on them for added traction.
Spectators at the Brick Mine Pro Hillclimb will have a lot to see as Jelinek explained what classes will be offered to riders. The Brick Mine will have a 450cc - Modern 450cc which only allows the use of a four strokes engine, rubber tires, and race gas. The next class is 700cc - 451-700cc which includes either 2 stroke or 4 stroke engine and allows any fuel and any tire to be used. Lucky attendees will see the most exciting class – Open/Unlimited which has 600cc & up multi-cylinder and 700cc & up single cylinder bikes. This class allows any fuel, any tire, and typically these bikes are custom built. Jelinek shared that these bikes range from stock street bike engines to highly modified engines that are installed into a dirt bike frames. What makes this so exciting is that some of these bikes can put out 250hp or more and run on 100% nitromethane. The final class at the Brick Mine is the 450 Main Verticross/ X-Climb which will have the top 32 qualifiers from the 450cc class drag race up the hill.
“The event has been very well received by riders and fans over the first few years which allowed for us to see increases in both the amount of spectators and riders,” Jelinek said. “ Due to the event's success and the hill being claimed by riders as one of the biggest, best, and funnest hills in the nation, it was a natural fit for a professional hillclimb event.”
The Brick Mine Pro Hillclimb was first held in the summer of 2016 when the Eagle Ridge Motorcycle Club (ERMC) and the Pembina Gorger Dirt Riders (PGDR) teamed up to give this event a try. Now in their fifth year of holding it and third year as a part of the Motoclimb Super Series (MSS), the event is stronger than ever.
“There are many reasons for the continuation of this event, but we are trying to promote the sport of hillclimbing while creating a safe, family-friendly environment/event that people can come to enjoy. Over the years there has always been great support from the landowners, many sponsors, local and many surrounding communities, riders, and spectators, which we need to keep this event going. Without all of this positive support it would be challenging to keep this event going,” Jelinek shared.
The Motoclimb Super Series (MSS) is the first-ever professional hillclimb series that encompasses events from across the entire nation, from the east coast to the west and midwest in between. This series was created to try to unify all riders from other professional series into one full-blown national series so a true national champion can be crowned every year. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the three other rounds of the four-round series have been cancelled this season. The Brick Mine will be operating as an exhibition MSS event so all the MSS rules will be followed
“Some of the common rules are you must wear an approved DOT/SNELL helmet, boots that cover your ankles, and have a tether switch that shuts off power to the motorcycle if you fall off. We have a Motoclimb Super Series rulebook that describes all of the event rules (this can be found at the registration link at the end of the article),” Jelinek said. “Being that this is a professional hillclimb event, riders must be a minimum age of 16 the day of the hillclimb, and we have had a rider or two that are in their 60s. The majority of the riders are in their 20s and 30s.”
The event this year is expected to bring about about 50-60 riders to take on the Brick Mine. The bulk of the riders will come from N.Dak., Minn., Wisc., Mont., with quite a few trekking further to reach the event from across the United States. Some of these include the biggest names of the sport and are top professional riders. Logan Cipala, Harrold Waddell, Austin Teyler, Jay Sallstrom, Joe Shipman, and Logan Mead are a few of the many riders coming to create some very good competition.
“Our Canadian riders may not be able to attend this year due to the COVID restrictions,” Jelinek commented.
Spectators should be ready for an action-packed day watching many of the top hillclimb athletes from across the United States and Canada compete on some of the fastest hillclimb motorcycles from throughout the nation. This will all take place on one of the top hills in the country, featuring a giant and steep hill along the beautiful Pembina River just west of Walhalla.
The event space will be open to spectators starting at 7 a.m. on the day of the event with all guests asked to leave the area by 6 p.m. Attendees are directed to enter the property from the north road. Bikes are welcome to the grounds, and concessions will be available. However, no attitudes/knives/guns/explosives/or other weapons will be allowed. The event also does not allow dogs or other pets, glass bottles, and ERMC/PGDR reserve the right to refuse admittance to anyone.
“There will be two food/non-alcoholic beverage vendors, USS Subs & More and Nacho Bizness, at the hillclimb so there will be a good variety of food,” Jelinek said.
Jelinek said that alcohol beverages are welcome on the grounds but will not be available for purchase at the event. The beverages must be in aluminum cans or non-glass bottles/containers as no glass is allowed at the venue. Attendees will also need to bring their own form of chairs, stools, blankets, etc.).
“There isn’t too much shade available so if you want a break from the sun you can also bring your canopies or umbrellas,” Jelinek said.
While the event is still being put on for the enjoyment of everyone, there will be measures implemented to protect those in attendance. Organizers will be following the state and CDC guidelines closely for an outdoor event and have incorporated COVID-19 verbiage into their liability waiver. Social distancing will be encouraged at all times throughout the day, hand sanitizer stations will be available for public use as well placement of COVID-19 signage. In areas where lines are expected to be formed, 6’ spacing will be marked out so it is easy for people to maintain the recommended distance. There will be some other precautionary measures put into place to help everyone stay safe as well.
“Please use common sense and stay away if you or anyone in your group have COVID symptoms, you have come in contact with someone that has COVID symptoms, you feel sick in any way, you don’t feel comfortable being around crowds yet, etc. Our goal is to put on a fun, family-friendly event for the community to enjoy while staying safe and healthy,” Jelinek stated.
Both of the sponsoring clubs, Eagle Ridge Motorcycle Club and the Pembina Gorge Dirt Riders, are grateful to have access to the land to host the Brick Mine Pro Hillclimb. The clubs extend a special thanks to the Hornung Family for allowing the use of their land for the event.
“We are very fortunate and lucky to have access to this piece of land and are very appreciative of it,” Jelinek said. “This event would also not be possible without all the support from local businesses; we greatly appreciate all of our sponsors.”
The clubs goal in hosting these types of events is to provide something very fun and entertaining for the whole family. The event provide a great opportunity to relax and hangout with family and friends in an action-packed atmosphere - something anyone can enjoy even if they typically would not go to an event like this.
“We encourage people to get out and support their local riders competing against the best riders in the country. We are excited to put on a show,” Jelinek said.
COVID also brought a big change to how the riders can register for the competition. The 2020 Brick Mine riders can only register online. The entry fee is $100 per class. The following link is where riders can enter:https://eagleridgemotorcycleclub.redpodium.com/2020-brick-mine-hillclimb
Admission for the event is $10/person and ages 12 & under are free. Due to the COVID-19, organizers have also created a link for spectators to purchase their admission passes online prior to the event to help minimize contact. Admission can still be collected at the entry to the event. You can visit the following link to purchase your passes in advance. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2020-brick-mine-hillclimb-tickets-106823022536.