Stillwater, OK Emerges as Extreme Sports Destination
K.C. Andrews remembers zipping around his backyard on a dirt bike almost before he learned how to walk. Twenty years later, when Andrews had the unexpected chance to snap up a 60-acre Stillwater property full of rugged hills and classic Oklahoma red dirt, he knew exactly what to do with it.
Today, the property is home to Area 51 Motocross Park, which attracts thousands of visitors from Stillwater and beyond each year who are passionate about the growing sport of motocross racing and recreational riding.
“It’s a great property with all kinds of elevation changes to the landscape and lots of hills,” says Andrews. “It’s a natural for motocross. It’s been a hobby of mine all my life, and now I kind of feel like a golfer opening his own golf course. It’s a great experience.”
Area 51 Motocross – named for its location along Highway 51 and Interstate 35, Andrews says – is one of three popular Stillwater area motocross sports destinations. Cooperland Raceway attracts competitive racers from across the country, and Stillwater Motorcycle Park, locally called “The 500,” is known for off-road motor biking. Andrews has seen the sport increasing in popularity in the nine years since he opened Area 51 Motocross and attributes that to a sport – whether it involves motorbikes or four-wheel ATVs – that is surprisingly family friendly.
“We see people of all ages participating, from 50-year-old women to 5-year-old kids,” he says. “It’s something that everybody can participate in. Unlike a traditional sport like football, mom and dad don’t get out on the field and do that with you. Motocross is something everyone can do.”
In response to the growing popularity of Stillwater’s motocross locations, retailers have opened up businesses to cater to riders. Riders can get their gear at places like Yamaha of Stillwater, which opened in 2002, and AIS Extreme Sports, which opened in 2008 in response to growing demand for new and used bikes, ATVs and racing gear.
Stillwater also lays claim to “Cowboy” Kenny Bertram, one of the best-known freestyle motocross riders in the nation. Bertram, whose career has spanned competitive freestyle riding, stock car racing, and Hollywood stuntman, continues to live in Stillwater while racing all around the country and appearing on shows such “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” With his signature black cowboy hat and down-to-earth style, Bertram also writes a popular blog about his trips around the United States, but always mentions how happy he is to return home to “some of the best riding in the country.”
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