Oakland Coliseum, 2/03/18
The festivities began the night before, with East Bay Motorsports in Hayward hosting a rider meet and greet, bbq and giveaway. Families began arriving around 3PM, and were given raffle tickets to win goodie bags, autographed gear, VIP tickets for the main event, and even a 2017 Kawasaki KLX 110.
We arrived around 5:30, and were told to stand in an immense line that stretched throughout the store. It took about an hour to receive our tickets. This line would also lead us to the autograph and photo session with roughly 10 riders.
There were easily 200-300 people in attendance at the time of our arrival. Parking was terrible, and like many others, we parked in other local business’ lots, despite the warning that our vehicles might be towed.
Parents stayed in line, while the kids were free to roam and grab free snacks and swag. It seemed a perfectly fun family-type event, with many children happy to have autographs and posters of the riders.
The main raffle was supposed to happen at 7, but they decided to wait until everyone received a ticket. By 7:30, most families had gotten their autographs and went home. This meant that there were only 100 or so people present and valid to win the grand prize motorcycle. All-in-all, it was a fun little celebration, and the odds of winning those prizes was pretty good.
The Main Event
Our group of six decided to take BART, because the Coliseum is just a walking bridge away from the station. Our 7th friend chose to drive and park, and it costs $40 per vehicle.
For admission to the pits, you could pay $10 per person, or bring a can of Monster. Since you can’t carry them in, you either slam them, or toss them.
Security was difficult, as they didn’t allow backpacks despite the email sent to us that said we could. Upon entry, we immediately lost The Kid because of his backpack, and he had to walk around the outside of the Coliseum to rent a locker. I wanted to join him, but I was afraid of the no re-admission clause. Fortunately, he met up with our friend in the lot, and was able to leave the backpack in his car.
His long legs found us swiftly, and he was able to join us for a cool beer inside the ballpark before we headed back outside to the pits. Unfortunately, security strikes again. We’re not allowed to bring beverages purchased inside the venue to the outside area. We joined the others near the entrance to the Pit Party, and finished our drinks as quickly as possible. (By the way, at $12 a beer, they’re really encouraging our reckless drinking and stimulating the economy, all-in-one, because they do the same the other way around.)
The Pit Party area was full and fun. We had to speed through pretty quickly, but were able to see all kinds of bikes, see the swag, and managed to spot the stunters as they stopped with panache. (The Kid caught Jason Britton, and he kindly took a photo.)
It appeared that there were many earlier opportunities for photos and autographs at the different tents.
It was now time to head inside for some ballpark food and entertainment. It might seem frustrating to some people to attend events with seven people, but I always find it’s a more convenient experience. It’s true, sometimes we have to wait on each other. This time The Kid and I fell behind, as the rest of our crew wandered off. We easily found The Professor, and he lead us to our friends. They had found a magnificent round table within a bar, and were enjoying a round or two before the racing.
I thought our seats were pretty amazing. We were in row 19, and even during qualifying, we could easily see the racers catching air above us. I can’t exactly say whether I’d prefer to be closer and really experience their acrobatics, or have a better aerial vantage point of the racing from higher up. We could certainly smell the exhaust from our seats and enjoy the racing atmosphere.
We all indulged in standard ballpark fare; corn dogs, hot dogs and churros. All-in-all, it was a great night with friends, but it passed very quickly. Soon, we were headed to the parking lot to reunite with The Kid’s abandoned backpack. Mostly filled with pickup trucks, the lot was representative of the many dirt biker riders present at the event.
True to Oakland Coliseum form, the lot was filled with after-hours revelers enjoying refreshments from the coolers in their cars. We visited with a handful of them, fearful for their drive home, but mostly grateful that we had traveled by train.