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Green Acres MX: Saying goodbye to a Kansas Motocross Track

For more about Jason Kruse Photography, please visit http://jasonkrusephotography.com/

Green Acres MX is the place to be!

Farm livin' and Kansas motocross is the life for both Ron and Shelli Hardey. October 4, 2015, however, will be the last Central Kansas Motocross Series (CKMS) race held at their track. Next year they will try to schedule practices between the CKMS events but, for now they going to start taking more vacations and enjoying more quiet time together. When the Hardey's bought this farm land from the Greenemyer family they carried over with it the nickname they had referred to it as. So, the name Green Acres just stuck, hence the name Green Acres MX. So there you have it!

Almost smack dab in the middle of Kansas is a small town called Marion, Ks. Nestled just outside of town along Mud Creek and highway 56 is a motocross track that has been in operation since 1990. It has been a memorable 25 years since Ron and Shelli Hardey first started running MX races out of their backyard so to speak. This track was litteraly created by the excavation of farm land and river bottom to build up highway 56 and the bridge that crosses in front of their farm to the north. They have had several young riders out there that are now grown up and riding Pro MX/SX like Tommy Hahn,Will Hahn, and Josh Grant. We will have to see if any more home grown Kansas riders make it to the pro level as well.

Their history with the track the and stories of past race seasons were endless and so full of heartfelt memories. I could easily tell that their absence was not only going to be felt by the MX (motocross) community but by them as well. They spoke of events and antics that would make themselves laugh and at the same time fill their eyes with tears. There have been countless laps ridden out on their track and many days filled with the sounds of race announcements and motorcycle engines filling the air. At every race the riders would gather to drop their head for a prayer and place a hand over the heart to honor the national anthem. This was part of the glue that bonded this group even closer on race days.

"...looking down the road outside there home and seeing cars lined up along the road as far as the eyes could see."

Jason Kruse Photography


Jason Kruse Photography

A few weeks ago Ron and I met down at the starting gate to visit for a bit and get some more photos of the track. I wanted to be mindful of time and the hours left before the sun went down. I've grown up around farms enough to know that he would likely have chores that needed to be done and I didn't want to take up any more of his time then I had to. I quickly discovered though, that Ron is a conversationalist and had a lot of stories to share with me so I just let him talk. Shooting a few special pictures near the starting gate with Ron and Shelli was a priority because I felt that the old, original, manual, starting gate seemed to symbolized both the beginning and ending of this couples long dedication and journey through this sport. I just wanted to capture that moment for the two of them.

 


Jason Kruse Photography

After we grabbed a few fun shots we headed back up to the house to chat. We all sat down at the picnic table on the back porch and I listened to them reflect and recollect about the good times that they had out there. As I listened I found myself growing more and more fond of this great couple. They were very kind and welcoming to me and I could tell that they also truly regarded the riders and their families as part of their own "moto family".

 


PC: David Wallace Jr.

Before I ever had a chance to photograph a race at Green Acres MX I had heard riders boast about this track. Earlier this year I met a rider down in Ponca City, Ok. He was telling me a story about this tracks "big triple jump" and about how you have to "watch out for the creek". This creek had become famous for swallowing up bikes "if you didn't hit that back corner just right". I don't think anyone ever was ever injured because of this corner but I imagine a few bikes didn't run the same afterwards. Well the story goes like this. If your bike landed in the drink they would pull it out with a winch and then you got to sign your autograph on a life vest that they kept up near the garage. This was a right of passage for some. Either way those riders are now famous in there own right.

"it's time to take a vacation".


Jason Kruse Photography

Another historical piece of information was that during the 1995-96 race season all of the race tracks had rained out in the surrounding states. So, they all came to Green Acres MX to race instead. One of Shelli's most memorable moments was looking down the road outside there home and seeing cars lined up along the road as far as the eyes could see. There were 404 entries with actually 396 that raced. They held the record for highest racer participation until it was finally surpassed by Jeeps Motorcycle Club 3 years later.


Jason Kruse Photography



Jason Kruse Photography



Jason Kruse Photography



Jason Kruse Photography

There have been several riders over the years that have suffered serious accidents doing the sport they loved the most. One young rider in particular lost his life in a motorcycle accident. For 10 years Green Acres MX has hosted a race in memory of Justin Anderson who loved riding out at their track the most. Ron and I talked about a close friend, "Gumby", that lost his life because of a motocross accident. I could see through the tears in his eyes that the loss and sorrow is not buried very deeply. Through this sport genuine friendships have been which makes it the hardest part of leaving the motocross race scene for them, but as they shared with me "it's time to take a vacation".


Jason Kruse Photography

I spoke again with Shelli the week before their final race and asked her if she would like to say anything to the riders and motocross families and this is what she had to say:
"We have seen a lot of racers grow up here. Now they are adults and their children are growing up riding here. I'm in awe of how much they have grown...We have met and made life long friends here. Will miss the motocross community"


Jason Kruse Photography

--I'm sure you will be missed too!

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