An open letter to the Iowa motocross community:
My name is Tony Wenck, I own and operate Riverside Raceway in Winterset, IA. When I first started the racetrack in the early 2000’s, I did it because I loved dirt bikes and wanted a cool place for everyone to come race.
I bought the place back in 2015 for the same reasons. I wanted to help grow the motocross community and give Iowa motocross families a place to be proud of. Since then, we’ve brought in national coverage from Racer X, Swap Moto, Vurbmoto, and more to showcase our riders worldwide. In recent years the track and entire facility has gotten many facelifts, always trying to improve. I’ve always done my best. Most importantly I wanted to see smiles on everyone’s faces every time they come down the driveway and when they leave.
We host so many bonus activities which we don’t charge extra for like the bounce house, playground, sandbox, pit bike track, pit bike races, fireworks, celebrity appearances, toy track building competitions, bags tournaments, dunk tank, video game tournaments, trails, firewood, and more; all to make sure our guests have a fun-filled, family weekend. We pride ourselves on providing value on and off the track.
On the race track we put in endless hours to make it the best we possibly can. Mother Nature likes to toss us curveballs, but our dirt crew stays up through the night burning diesel and destroying the facility… the result though is almost always an awesome race track. We do this because we know you chose to spend the weekend with us, filled your tanks with gas to get there, and we owe it to you to give you the best conditions possible.
We have created some awesome events and continue to add to the facility with improvements. Most recently, the free wash bay, a new podium, and infrastructure to make the experience better.
When the tornado ripped through the valley this Spring it caused a ton of damage at the track and completely leveled my acreage and home that sat adjacent. The following day was the Iowa Moto Kickoff party at Pole Position. I kept my promise to have a bucket of cheeseburgers delivered and expressed that I didn’t want my situation to disrupt the progress and momentum building for the upcoming season. We have worked hard to help rebuild Iowa Moto and somehow we were going to get the place together to hold our race. We didn’t ask for charity, we just asked that the moto community support the efforts to rebuild by coming down our driveway for our events this year.
At our last event; the Justin Brayton Shootout we brought Brayton, Bradshaw, Nicoletti, Stephenson and even Davey Coombs (the “mayor of motocross” in the USA) to see Iowa motocross first-hand. Unfortunately the facility was left with more damage… A group of kids broke into a campsite, entered a stranger’s tent and proceeded to pour out many of their beverages, ketchup, and mustard from their cooler all over their blankets and mattress. Their clothing was put into their cooler and then overflowed with beers, water, and condiments. Some of the kids decided to urinate all over everything inside the tent.
After a few of the kids were caught, it was discovered my dad’s old van parked at the property had also been vandalized. All the windows were knocked out and the mirror was ripped off. While not a Rolls Royce, the van was one of the only things I had left that survived the tornado. My dad is very special to me, and it was his daily driver. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us and one of the only things I had left is destroyed.
When we have big events like the Justin Brayton Shootout and Loretta Lynn’s Qualifiers we have a recognized, national level AMA referee on staff. He sent the names of the kids who were discovered to have taken part in the vandalism to the AMA headquarters, which is standard procedure. The AMA decided on a 60 day suspension for all the riders who admitted to being involved in the vandalism. Even though I was extremely disappointed by the situation, I spoke with the AMA about reducing the penalties because I knew more riders were involved that weren’t caught.
After penalties were sent out to the guilty parties, one of their parents published a very skewed statement online. Some of it was untrue entirely. Sadly, this parent is also the president of the Iowa Moto Series. I sat back and watched myself and the race track get bashed, more lies flooded out, and tons of unwarranted and unfounded personal attacks mounted. Many were from people I thought were friends (some for decades), other track promoters I thought were partners, and even strangers who have never met me.
Yet most of the Iowa motocross community that my staff and I have dedicated so much to either sat silent or joined in on the public bashing. Not a single one of our partners in the Iowa Moto Series even picked up the phone to call me and find out what was actually going on. They didn’t reach out to offer support, or lift a finger to end the destruction of the series’ most attended track. The smear campaign continued for weeks allowing the destruction of the Iowa Moto Series as well. In fact, some of those “partners” even participated with the bashing. When I went racing at another track shortly after the letter went out I was treated like a stranger by many racers that would normally go out of their way to say hello to me. One morning I got a threatening phone call from a restricted number saying I better not show up to the Waterloo race or I’ll get my ass kicked. Of all the organizers in the state I’m the one that goes racing and riding at other tracks the most and now I feel I can’t. I really hoped our motocross community valued their race tracks more than this and we had created a true unified series within the state.
Weeks went by after the statement was released with no response from the Iowa Moto officers or other series’ tracks. We repeatedly requested a meeting to address the situation before one was finally scheduled.
Moments before the meeting was set to begin, the Iowa Moto Series President cancelled the meeting and it was never rescheduled. I guess I’m just supposed to forget about it and let it go.
Like everyone else, I can choose to spend my time doing anything. For several years I chose to operate this facility because I enjoyed giving people a solid place to ride/race with their families and friends. No matter how much I do, it’s seems it’s just never enough. If this is the result of spending countless hours of hard work and lots of money, then I’ll go a different direction. I’ve invested so much of myself over the years to better the sport I love. We’ve endured plenty. After the way I’ve been treated the emotional appeal for me is gone. I’m tired of being the punching bag.
Due to these circumstances, Riverside Raceway will be closing its gates indefinitely and will no longer be part of the Iowa Moto series. We are cancelling our scheduled Fall events and will re-evaluate the future of the facility at another time.