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Riders fly high as Garmin Arenacross wows the crowds in Newcastle
IT'S probably among the more unusual requests made of bosses at the Metro Radio Arena.
Forget M and Ms with all the yellow ones taken out.
Before the stars of the Garmin Arenacross Tour were able to rev a throttle in anger 10,000 tonnes of dirt had to be shipped in to the venue.
It might have sounded like a recipe for an unholy mess, but those in charge of creating the track for some of the world's best motocross riders and freestyle performers have turned their work into an artform.
Designed by a crack team from New York State, spine-jarring moguls preluded huge jumps and banked corners and all within the confines of an arena more used to playing host to the world's biggest pop and rock stars.
In addition, a ramp at an angle that only Pythagoras could fathom meant the roof was almost within touching distance for the most daring of those on show.
Such events have been commonplace across the pond for many years, but are a fairly new phenomenon here. When you see consider the crowd that queued in the cold - some of whom were still outside when the action began - you wonder why it has taken so long.
Part sport, part theatre and with more drama than you find on your telly on any night of the week, Arenacross fires the adrenaline as soon as the starting gate falls and doesn't let up until the end.
The smallest arena in the seven round series, the crowd at Sunday's event sat, almost like in the days of the Roman Colosseum, as the riders - onboard powerful motorbikes rather than chariots - duelled to the flag. In such tight spaces, spills are inevitable - an occupational hazard - and a number of riders were left nursing battered limbs and bruised egos as they ended up in a heap in the dirt.
With Tow Law's Brad Anderson doing his best, but unable to threaten the elite from across Europe in the pro category, it was left to Newcastle's Buster Hart - never was a child more aptly named - to steal the show. The ten-year-old junior rider led his race from start to finish and had the audience on their feet as he took the chequered flag.
Around four hours later, and with the smell of petrol having seemingly seeped into every pore, the victor - on this occasion Steven Clarke from Stourbridge - was crowned.
As we melted away into the night, we, and thousands of parents like us, prepared ourselves for the inevitable.
"Mam, dad, can I get a bike?". If just a small percentage of the answers were 'yes' then for Arenacross, and motocross in general, the sky might be the limit.
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