EnduroCross brings elements of off-road racing into Supercross-style setting

In a race, winning isn't necessarily about how fast you are. It's about how smart you are.

That's certainly the case in EnduroCross, in which racers maneuver motorcycles along an indoor off-road course pockmarked with enough logs, earth-mover tires, boulders, rocks and water crossings to make merely staying on top of one's bike an achievement.

On Saturday, Southern Nevadans will be able to see what the still relatively young sport of EnduroCross is about when the Geico AMA EnduroCross finals come to Orleans Arena.

Mike Karsting, vice president of events for Source Interlink Media, which produces the event, says EnduroCross made its debut in 2004 in Las Vegas, making The Orleans "kind of the home of the EnduroCross."

EnduroCross is "indoor off-road racing," Karsting says, with riders who are among "the greatest off-road riders in the world.

"It's kind of everything you'd see in an off-road race jam-packed into one."

In this weekend's finals, riders will negotiate a dirt track that incorporates 50 tons of boulders, 50 tons of riprap (bowling ball-sized rocks), 1,500 feet of logs and water crossings.

Saturday's finals will include a pro class event and an amateur event featuring "the 12 best riders from around the country," Karsting says.

Las Vegan Gary Smith will be among those vying for a spot in the amateur event. Smith says he has been racing since he was 5 and that this is his third year competing in EnduroCross.

"We went to watch EnduroCross one time, and it looked really hard," he says. "I said, 'I might as well give it a shot.' "

EnduroCross involves a high degree of technical skill, Smith says. "It's definitely kind of the hardest thing you could really do.

"It takes slower speeds and, just technically, just trying to stay up on the bike and trying not to crash, compared to being out riding for hours at a time and really not seeing anybody close."

Smith was surprised at how physically taxing EnduroCross is. His first year, "after the second turn, I was out of breath, completely winded," he says. "It really tests how physically fit you are."

"I love it," Smith adds. "It's probably one of my favorite things, just because it really does test how good and how physically fit you are. It's not just how fast you are, but about how mentally and physically tough you can be."

This weekend's finals also will feature the debut of an EnduroCross women's class. Among the riders who are scheduled to compete are Maria Forsberg, who won the gold medal at this year's first X Games Enduro X event as well as a spot on Rolling Stone magazine's 2011 "Hot List."

"If you like any kind of racing or motor sports, you're going to like this," Karsting says.

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280.