2015 Red Bull Straight Rhythm Q&A

James Stewart at 2014 Red Bull Straight Rhtyhm
James Stewart, the 2015 Red Bull Straight Rhythm winner

Last year, a different type of motocross race debuted at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif. – the Red Bull Straight Rhythm.

It was the first of its kind, pitting two racers against each other in drag-racing style duel. During the 2014 Red Bull Straight Rhythm, two riders went head-to-head down a straight, 3,000-foot-long rhythm section. The course was laid out on the Pomona drag strip, and included a 300-foot whoop section and 80 jumps.

Winning the inaugural race, which is part of the Red Bull Signature Series, was two-time Supercross Champion James Stewart (Suzuki) in the open class, and KTM’s Marvin Musquin in the 250cc class.

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The Red Bull Straight Rhythm returns in 2015, but this time on the raceway’s horse track instead of the drag strip. The 2015 RBSR will feature 24 riders broken up into two classes – 16 in the Open Class and eight in the Lites Class (250cc and less). The race is set for October 10, and will air on NBC November 29 (as part of the Red Bull Signature Series).

Just ahead of this year’s second-annual Red Bull Straight Rhythm race, we caught up with the track’s designer Jason Baker, who founded the Florida-based Dream Traxx back in 2003. Baker has built tracks on five continents, and is known for making “dirt look good.”

Following is a Q&A with Baker.

2015 Red Bull Straight Rhythm | Q&A with Track Designer Jason Baker
Jason Baker – the Red Bull Straight Rhythm track designer

Q. Where does the inspiration come from design? And who are your major influences when it comes to designing tracks? Does Ricky Carmichael inspire?

Jason Baker says: “Being a creative person, I rely on my artistic side to come up with unique ideas that will be challenging to the riders. I also get inspiration from the riders that I have and continue to work for (Trey Canard, Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto, James Stewart, to name a few).

“Watching how they can handle the track and piece together different sections, helps me to come up with new ideas that require more skill and are more fun to ride. Through the years I have enjoyed watching the likes of Jeremy McGrath, and his smooth flawless style, and the way that he rode a track almost like a BMX rider would. I have also enjoyed watching the natural talent and raw speed of James Stewart and how he viciously attacks the track with his unprecedented speed. I draw a lot of inspiration from these two riders.”

Q. Did you design the 2014 Red Bull Straight Rhythm track?

Jason Baker says: “Yes I have been involved with Red Bull Straight Rhythm since its inception in 2013. The first one that we created was a test just to see if the riders liked it. Then we designed and built the first public event last year in October of 2014.”

Q. How much different will this year’s track be from last year’s? What will be the most challenging element?

Jason Baker says “Obviously, with the track just being a straight line there are only so many changes you can make. The footprint can not change, it is a straight line. So, what we tried to do with this year’s track is to change up where the different obstacles of the track are placed.

“We moved the whoops around. Also, straight out of the gate is a real technical rhythm section instead of like last year where it was a high speed start. I would say the most challenging element for this year’s track is the rhythm section that I designed. This year it has multiple lines, and the challenge will be to try to find the fastest line the quickest. That is the rider that will have the advantage. “

Q. Regarding dirt, what type do you use? Is it a mix? Will sand be incorporated into the layout?

Jason Baker says “The type of dirt that we tried to find to use at Straight Rhythm is kind of a mix of topsoil and clay. The topsoil helps allow us to get moisture into the track. Due to the fact that the race is in the middle of the day, getting enough water into the track is our biggest challenge. As far as incorporating sand into the track, we had about 200foot sand section last year, and we plan to implement a couple sand pits into this year’s track.

Q. From a designer’s perspective, do you have a favorite track layout or certain sections of other tracks that you like to mimic at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm track?

Jason Baker says: “The unique thing about Red Bull Straight Rhythm is that it truly has its own dynamic. With that said, as the designer, I try to challenge myself to make it as different from all the other tracks as I can. Red Bull prides itself on individuality and hosting events that set itself apart from others. So for this event, I try to come up with as many unique and creative ideas for the course that riders may never get a chance to see elsewhere.”

Q. More on you – any favorite riders?

Jason Baker says “It is hard for me to chose a favorite rider since I work for so many of them and they have become such good friends. I think I cheer more for a good race than I do a particular rider.”

Q. Can you tell us about Dream Traxx and how you go about designing?

Jason Baker says: “I started Dream Traxx after retiring from racing in 2003. It started in the backyard of the home where I was born and raised in Lakeland, Fla. We are now based out of Winter Haven, Fla. Over the past decade I have designed and constructed hundreds of tracks all over the world. I have had the privilege of building tracks on five out of the seven continents and the coolest part of my job is meeting so many awesome families, racers, and fans. Many of our customers have become great friends over the years. I always say that the one thing we build better than tracks is relationships.

“As far as designing, I rely on my racing experience to help me design and construct from a riders perspective. I can speak the language with the riders and I am also able to watch them and know how they and their bike are reacting. This helps the riders have faith in what I design, and know that their safety is my number one priority. As far as my pro guys, each time I design a track, I design it for that particular racer.

“I study them, I learn their strengths, and their weaknesses, and I construct each track to help make them a better athlete. When it comes to designing and building for families and amateurs, these are some of my favorite builds. I love to get to know the families and young riders, and build them a track that is safe, challenging, and keeps a smile from ear to ear under their helmet lap after lap! I look at my business more as an artistic job than construction. The land is my canvas, and the equipment I run are my paintbrushes – from that ‘we make dirt look good.’”

Stay clicked to Ultimate MotorCycling for a recap of the 2015 Red Bull Straight Rhythm.

Red Bull Straight Rhythm Photo Gallery