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24-hour motorcycle race set for Maplesville

The buzzing sound of a slew of motorcycles ripping their way through the Maplesville woods shouldn’t alarm you well into the Saturday night. Rest assured, it’ll dwindle by Sunday morning, but it will hardly bother the night owls and motorheads who wait all year for the annual racing event.

The Perry Mountain Motorcycle Club will hold its Ninth Annual KTM/Husaberg 24-Hour Challenge in Maplesville starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning and ending at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

More than 50 teams are locked and loaded for the popular event, which draws entrants and motorcycle buffs from all over the country, including California, New Hampshire, Texas, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois and several other states looking to get a piece of the type of tournament you rarely see in the country.

PMMC president and Selma native Glenn Hollingshead is pleaed with the amount of entries so far, as well as the fan turnout. Compared to last year, it’d be hard for attendance and participation to go anywhere but up. The troubled economy hindered folks from participating, putting a slight damper on the otherwise popular event.

“We’ve got a pretty decent turnout so far,” Hollingshead said. “The economy sucked last year, but everything’s looking a little better this year. Last year was down from the previous year. This is year is probably up 25 percent.”

Starting their engines and hitting the gas right at 10 a.m., riders will compete for a cash prize based on whoever gets the most laps and time in before the next morning. Teammates will take turns and stop whenever they need to rest, refuel or fix any mechanical problems with their bikes.

Hollingshead has been a member of the PMMC since 1980 and, along with a few others, helped kick off the 24-hour race nine years ago. He visited California about a decade ago to participate in a similar event and felt like it could work in Maplesville. He competed in the first four here. Even if he wasn’t so successful actually racing in the event, he says he’d do it again in a heartbeat if he weren’t organizing it.

He’s pleased with the evolution of the event in his hometown and is especially happy to see so many out-of-state competitors join the fun.

“You have to be really enthusiastic to go out there and ride 24 hours,” he said. “We’re lucky enough we’re the only ones doing it here. I really don’t understand why someone else doesn’t do it.”

He said by the end of the event, the near-50 club members who work the event will be pretty wide-eyed. But it’s totally worth it, he says. Any money the club makes from the event is somehow given back to the community through donations to local charities.

Hollingshead said there are roughly two or three motorcycle clubs in the county, suggesting a substantial popularity in the sport around these parts.

“It’s in our blood for some reason or another,” he said. “I don’t understand why either. The people keep coming. It’s a racing attitude.”

He said riders will race through all sorts of terrain, including uphill, downhill, rock and sand.

Racing this weekend is Bill Edenfield, 37, who traveled to the Reynolds Pasture from Columbia, S.C. Along with five others, Edenfield will race for KORE Sport Cycles, a leading South Carolina Polaris dealer. He owns a car rental company and body shop in Columbia.

He arrived in Maplesville via RV on Thursday evening to get a jump on the motorhome traffic, which will have filled up the entire pasture on Saturday morning. They set up camp around 7 p.m. after staying at a nearby Hampton Inn the night before, which he said spoiled him compared to the hot, dirty and sweaty weekend ahead.

He’s ridden a motorcycle since age 7 and began racing shortly after college. He loves the PMMC race because it not only offers new terrains riders like him rarely see due to limited land resources for dirt bikes, but he also appreciates the fellowship among riders.

“I like it because it brings the same type of people together,” he said.

Singing that same tune is Randy Crump, a Jasper native who wouldn’t miss the PMMC 24-hour race for anything, even if he recently broke his right leg in three places. Crump previously raced the Reynolds Pasture for four straight years prior to injuring himself on a road in Clanton.

He also arrived on Thursday and landed a prime spot where he pitched a roof for shade and relaxes out of the sun until the racing starts.

Crump, who sells cars in Jasper, said the PMMC race is precisely the reason he races in the first place. It almost kills him that he won’t get to share the feeling with this year’s riders, tearing through the track one more time.

“Everybody’s got a common bond here,” he said. “I’m going to miss it a little bit, for sure. It really is a big deal. It’s something special.”

Given his leg injury should end up taking nearly a year to heal, Crump will be back on a bike to race this fall.

For those who have never seen a race like the 24-hour showdown, Hollingshead encourages them try something new, something they won’t see anywhere else in this part of the country. Those used to catching a two or three-hour race simply won’t be the same after spending all day and night watching these dirt bikes rip and roar through the wooded terrain.

“There’s nothing else like this on this side of the United States,” he said. “If you like motorcycles at all, this is a different way to see it. Once you’re out there, it just gets in your blood.”

The PMMC started as early as the 1940s by several local motorcycle enthusiasts who leaned more towards traditional models like Harley Davidsons, well before dirt bikes entered the scene.

It quickly evolved into a club that frequently entered races in Montgomery, Selma and other surrounding areas. Maplesville native Millard Reynolds, along with several others from Plantersville and other nearby towns, spearheaded the group and molded it into the organization it is today.

Today’s race is friendly to both expert and novice riders. Teams will ride through 10-12 miles of wood trails, fields, fire roads and creek beds, as several family members and friends gather to watch.

Riders are eligible for cash prizes from an overall purse of $7,500. First prize is $2,500, second is $1,500, third is $1,000, fourth is $750 and fifth is $500.

First prize for single riders is $500, second is $300 and third is $200.

The PMMC is a non-profit club that has donated to several area charities. Its members are always pleased when local people lend a hand with events like the 24-hour race, helping to run checkpoints and concession stands, among other things. Racers will compete on a 10-12 mile course. Of course, because the race lasts well into the night, headlights are required on all motorcycles.

The PMMC is located at Reynolds Pasture, 20 miles west of Interstate-65 on US-Highway 22.

Teams are allowed a maximum of six riders and two bikes. Pre-entry for each team was $350, as post-entry was $450.

No impound bike will be allowed for single riders. Their entry fees were $75 (pre) and $100 (post).

Duo squads are not eligible for cash prizes. Each rider is allowed to have his or her own bike. No impound bike will be allowed. Entry fees were $150 and $200, respectively.

The race begins on Saturday at 10 a.m. and ends at the same time Sunday morning. The gate fee is $15 per person for the weekend, free for Children under 12-years-old.

For more information, call Glenn Hollingshead at (334) 872-4286.