Brett Konkin’s labour of love is finally about to get its baptism under fire.
His Transcanada Motorsports Moto Park is ready to host a provincial race for the first time when the sports comes to his track near Kemnay on Aug. 8.
Konkin, 37, who rode competitively until the last couple of years, was ready to host his first provincial race a year ago. In 2020, the provincial motocross series was able to stage seven events between July 5 and Aug. 22, but lost races on each side of that time frame due to COVID regulations. Konkin’s luck couldn’t have been much worse.
"We were supposed to be the first race in the Manitoba series and the season-ending race," Konkin said. "We lost two races since COVID started and obviously that hurts. We’ve put a lot of time and effort into this track and to have them cancelled on you, it hurts, to say the least."
With some recent rain, he and the track should be ready.
Races begin on Aug. 8 at 8 a.m., and typically last until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. There is an open practice for riders a day earlier from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As a youngster, Konkin always wanted to ride, and received his first bike around age 10 when the family moved to Kola, which is located straight west of Virden near the Saskatchewan border.
Since the family had a construction company, he was able to start building tracks as a youngster. He bought the property near Kemnay in 2017, and lives there.
The track is literally in his front yard.
"I grew up in the sport building tracks so obviously when I moved out here it was in my blood to put a track out here for myself and a few in my community and see where it goes," said Konkin, adding the track has a lot of elevation change and natural obstacles, while also being safe and rider friendly, he added.
Work began in the spring of 2018, and it’s been a hobby ever since for Konkin, who built his first track when he was 10.
"I just got bored around here and put a few little jumps together and hills just for myself, a corner track," Konkin said. "All of a sudden the kids starting coming over wanting to ride and it just kind of took off from there."
The circuit is just over two kilometres, but it’s by no means finished. And it might not be anytime soon.
"It never ends," Konkin said. "It’s a labour of love. You build a section and it turns out great and you go with it. The next thing you know, you’re getting bored with it so there are always changes. The point where … we felt we had a race track was the spring of 2020."
Since work began on the track, there has been a major shakeup in the sport in Manitoba.
The provincial motocross circuit is now run by 204 Grassroots Motocross, which took over from the Manitoba Motocross Association (MTA) after the organization’s annual general meeting in 2019.
The new sanctioning body is run by former Brandonite Jim Frederickson and former MTA president Ken Bentley, who is the head coach of the University of Manitoba Bisons women’s volleyball team.
They picked a challenging time to take over.
Earlier this month, the second race on the calendar had to be moved to the end of the schedule when 204 Grassroots Motocross learned it hadn’t been in complete compliance with provincial COVID regulations during the first event, which was held at Madesa MX in Virden on July 9.
Round 3 was scheduled to run on Sunday at Prairie Hill MX in Pilot Mound — its status is up in the air due to the provincial rules — with Brandon following on Aug. 8. The other events are at ZIR in Zhoda (Aug. 15), GMX in Grunthal (Aug. 29), Moto Park X in Altona (Sept. 12), GMX in Grunthal (Sept. 19) and the rescheduled race at Morden’s Shadow Valley Raceway (Sept. 26).
"It’s been a bit of an interesting challenge, to say the least," Konkin said. "Between the COVID restrictions and protocols, we’re trying to hit a moving target from week to week to keep things open for the community."
There will be paid admission to Konkin’s event, but with the COVID goalposts shifting, it’s impossible to say how many people will be allowed in.
Konkin said he already developed a site plan with the province last summer prior to Manitoba heading into Code Red, so now it’s a matter of reviewing it with local health officials to ensure it meets the new guidelines.
On race day, there will be about 30 different divisions, with the biggest bikes in the 250cc and 450cc classes. Anyone who heads out will see the province’s best riders in action.
"There will be all the top Manitoba pros," Konkin said. "A lot of these Manitoba pros have competed professionally across Canada."
The track is named after the Brandon business that has become synonymous with the sport in Westman. Konkin said it’s hard to imagine where the facility would be without the support of Transcanada Motorsports and Scott Harland.
"He’s been a very large part of this track to get it to where it is today," Konkin said. "He’s been the official dealer sponsor of this track to the point that we wouldn’t have the infrastructure and operate at the point we do without him. Scott has been very supportive."
It’s not the only help he’s received from inside the motocross community.
Konkin’s dealings with Craig Hargreaves of Farm Boys Raceways, located south of Brandon, have been excellent, and he’s friends with other track owners as well.
"He’s paved the way for a lot of us and he’s one of the pioneers of the sport in the area," Konkin said of Hargreaves. "He’s helped grow the sport to where it is today and tracks like myself wouldn’t be where they are today without his efforts."
"We’re all a tight-knit community," added Konkin, who often heads south with other Manitobans to Florida or Texas to get more racing in.
While that’s the case, he’s eager to see some motocross action a lot closer to home. To be exact, in his front yard.
"It’s been a long time coming," Konkin said. "We’re ready to have a race."
» Twitter: @PerryBergson