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Sgt. David Wong, administrative specialist with the Wounded Warrior detachment, tests his limits on the turns at the Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, in Desert Center, Calif., during the Jason Pridmore Star Motorcycle School Oct. 15, 2011.

Photo by Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn

The Need for Speed: Combat Center riders hit the track

21 Oct 2011 | Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Combat Center Marines and sailors from across southern California traveled deep into the heart of the Mojave Desert to improve their riding skills at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, Desert Center, Calif., for a day of riding and classes Oct 15, 2011.

The event featured the Jason Pridmore’s Star Motorcycle School, and was sponsored by the Combat Center’s Base Safety.

This is the second time Marines and Base Safety have traveled to Chuckwalla.

“The biggest thing is control,” said Jason Pridmore, the school’s owner and operator of Star Motorcycle School. “The bikes now a day are so powerful, it is almost like giving a kid a gun. We have to train them and that is what we are trying to do here.”

The rider instructors from both the school and the Combat Center hope the class does more than just teach bike control, though.

“We also want them to get into the appropriate mindset that speed is not for the street. Speed is for the track,” said Frank Santiago, a safety instructor with the Combat Center. “At the school, they don’t want you to go fast. They want you to learn technique and maintain total control of your motorcycle.”

The Marines who had participated during a previous similar event said they decided to come back again this time because of how much they learned.

“It’s excellent, it’s absolutely valuable for Marines who want to go fast,” said Sgt. David Wong, an administrative specialist with the Wounded Warrior detachment. “Well number one Marines want to go fast but they don’t have the place to do it and this is the place to do it. Number two, it absolutely gives them the skill to do it. A lot of what they teach us here helps out on the street.”

“I have already been in a course with them,” Wong said. “After the first time I took the course with them, the next day I was out riding and going onto the onramp for the highway when all of a sudden the vehicle in front of me stopped. We were going 60 mph at least into a dead stop. Instead of doing what a lot of riders would do and hit the brake, I went and straightened up real quick, downshift real quick, got around.”

Before participating in this class, the riders attended additional courses aboard the Combat Center and had a wide range of experience riding on the street and tracks.

“A lot of these guys have never been to a track before, so it is something new for them,” Santiago said. “But some of these guys are veterans and know the exhilaration of being on the track and would rather test themselves out here than anywhere else. This is a good place to test your skill and really become a better rider”

The Chuckwalla track is not built for speed but for handling practice.

“It’s not a very fast track, but it is a technical track, what I mean by that is a lot of bank, decreasing radius corners and blind corners,” Santiago said. “You are really going to get your skills pushed a little more and more each time. It is an outstanding track for the riders who are trying to develop what they know.”

For more information on military motorcycle courses or upcoming classes call 830-6154.

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms