Steward Baylor is an off-road legend. Wait, actually after this conversation with him I’m upgrading his status to “legendary human”. He didn’t even know me and felt fully comfortable in saying what was on his mind in this interview. I was told to get his thoughts on the Vurb Shred Tour Offroad Bash at his track at the Shoals in Donalds, South Carolina. I left the conversation knowing that one day I have to have a Twisted Tea with Stew. The Offroad Bash is this weekend and we will see you there! Here’s why you should go…
vurbmoto: Coming up we have the Vurb Shred Tour Offroad Bash at the Shoals, which is a track that you own, correct?
Stew Baylor: Yeah, I’ve partnered with my uncle on this property and he’s kind of given me the reins to put a good facility together and they’ve done a ton of work. We’re trying to build it as a training facility/motocross track and have some races when we get a chance.
We had a Shred Tour with you last year, so you must have liked how it went. What makes a Vurb event at your track awesome?
It’s just something different. I think the biggest thing is that we want to try to capture the offroad side and the moto side. It’s something that when Vurb reached out they were like we don’t know what we want to do, but maybe an offroad race. For a long time I’ve been talking about wanting to do GPs, for about eight or ten years. I know the J-Days have been killing it in New England and we just really don’t have something that is like that down here.The GP series that we have is the same format, but it doesn’t actually have much moto. I wanted to make something where a motocross guy can compete as well as an offroad guy and just see who the best riders are. That’s kind of what we’re going after with the Vurb event.
So, it’s a Grand Prix style race, which will have a moto and offroad loop for the weekend.
This time we’re going to do it slightly differently. Last time we had roughly an eight minute loop and 3:45 seconds of it was moto and the rest was offroad. This time we’re actually going to make it a bit shorter. We’re going to go for about a 5-6 minute loop. We’re going to make it a little faster with more lines. The track should get a lot rougher with it being shorter. The first one we really didn’t know what to expect and there were things I felt we could do a bit better. I’m just hoping a shorter track allows a little bit better racing.
With the Shoals I’m sure that you have a lot of locals that come to your events. What kind of feedback did you get from the last Vurb event?
Our local crowd is more moto guys than offroad guys. The majority of my feedback was that the track was too long to memorize. Coming from GNCC, I can remember a 13 mile trail. Apparently there is a reason that they ride moto. They aren’t smart enough to remember more than 13 turns. [Laughs] We heard it’s too long, too much to remember, too tight and that was kind of funny because I drove a D6 around the entire trail. So, I think with the fact that having trees nearby that they thought it was tight and that was not the case at all. They’ve just never seen trees. Now, on that same point we have a motocross track through the woods that was done with the same dozer that I made the loop with last time. It has jumps in it and motocross guys don’t care about the trees because it has jumps. I’m not certain how their minds work. I’m still learning a lot about the moto crowd when it comes to trying to get them to run a GP style event.
With the offroad side, I have to figure out a way to capture that moto side of things. The plan is to make it more challenging and less challenging at the same time. I’m thinking we’re going to throw in some extreme sections and with those sections we will have a bypass section that won’t be challenging at all. It’ll give the offroad guys an advantage if they go through the extreme section. The moto track we are going to ride is a track that we didn’t actually touch at the first Vurb event. It’s got some pretty big jumps. It’s safe, but there is a jump out there that is over 100 feet. The goal is that is where the moto guys are going to make up their time when they hit that track. Then on the woods side of the track, I’ll have a brief single track section with everything else dozer width. Realistically, I think it’ll be fairly close on the woods side. If it’s a good moto rider I think he should do well enough with his surroundings that he shouldn’t put himself in a bad position on whatever we layout. I’m just hoping the feedback that we got last time will help relay properly and make it sick.
It is a race weekend, but at the same time it’s hot dogs, it’s drinking, it’s having a good time with your buddies at the track. For someone who hasn’t gone to one of your events what can you tell them to expect as far as the vibe goes?
Honestly we’re pretty laid back. Our bread and butter is the training facility side, and obviously I still race professionally, so events like this when I put them on it’s so that we’re having fun and everyone is having fun. Number one, we might be late if it has something to do with making that track perfect. I’m the type where I’ll be out there. If we have to be out there all not to make it right we’ve done that plenty of times. If it comes to one more pass to make the track go from good to great then we’ll do it. Last time, I think I had to push the race back 30 minutes, so we’re pretty chill and relaxed. I’m not going to put anyone on a bad track. Beyond that we’ve got a little kids track, the Stacyc race that happens, I’ve got a band coming, who also doubles as the announcer, which is pretty cool. They’ll play on Saturday night. Obviously, I’m known for the guy who lives a little and I like to drink beer at the end of the day, so we hang out by the shop, listen to some music, kick back and get ready to ride again on Sunday. It’s a pretty relaxed vibe. A couple beers will be consumed. That’s really what racing is all about, being there and having fun with everybody. We got into racing because we enjoyed going to the track with our family. Nobody got into it to become a pro. I don’t think anyone bought their first dirt bike and said I’m going to go pro. It was more or less something challenging or fun and enjoyable. It was something different on the weekend instead of going to a mall or what normal people do, I couldn’t tell you. I was never a normal person. It was always dirt bikes for me. We try to keep it fun, relaxed, and laid back.