Sports

Belleville Supercross pro back on home dirt this weekend at the Dome

Mark Wishaar, a 2011 graduate of Belleville West and current graduate student at SIUE, will be competing at the Monster Energy Supercross event Saturday at the Dome at America’s Center. He’s in his fifth season as an AMA professional.
Mark Wishaar, a 2011 graduate of Belleville West and current graduate student at SIUE, will be competing at the Monster Energy Supercross event Saturday at the Dome at America’s Center. He’s in his fifth season as an AMA professional. BND File

Pro motorcycle racer Mark Wishaar, a 2011 graduate of Belleville West will be back on his home track at the Monster Energy Supercross event Saturday at the Dome at America's Center Saturday.

The Dome at America’s Center — the former home of the NFL’s now-departed Rams franchise — will open its doors this week to 500 dump trucks that will deposit 26 million pounds of dirt where there once was a football field. It will be molded into a uniquely-designed race track of high jumps and other obstacles.

The object for Weishaar and his opponents will be to circle the track as quickly as possible while maneuvering the kind of bone-breaking obstructions that so frequently send competitors to the emergency room. Weishaar says he has broken an arm, hand, collar bone, wrist, both ankles three times and had “a lot of concussions.”

The jumps will propel the dirt bikes and their riders 35 to 40 feet toward the Dome’s rafters and across up to 75 feet of floor space. That’s what separates Supercross from motocross and other off-road motor sports.

Weishaar started learning to ride when he was 11, earned his professional license by the time he was 19, and is now in his fifth season on the AMA circuit. He’s also in graduate school at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville studying kinesiology.

There are 17 events each Supercross season, which last from the start of July through roughly the end of April. Held mostly in pro football stadiums, AMA events last year drew an average of 46,000 fans in 14 cities.

There are 250cc and 450cc classes. Weishaar splits his seasons between both, but will be competing in the 250cc class Saturday in St. Louis.

Each class will usually draw 80 to 100 riders for timed practice rounds, Weishaar said. The 40 fastest lap times advance to the night program, which can earn a dirt biker a payday in that $750 to $1,500 range, depending on their finish.

The top 22 qualifiers from the night program advance to the main event.

Racing begins at the Dome Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Tickets range in price from $10 to $155 each and are available at Ticketmaster.

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