Craig native Gregg Kolbaba stands Wednesday near the oval dirt track he dug as part of his project to build Thunder Ridge Motor Sports Park south of Craig. Kolbaba has moved more than 55,000 yards of dirt to revamp the land that was once the Moffat County Motocross Track. He plans to host races there starting in June.

Photo by Brian Smith

Craig native Gregg Kolbaba stands Wednesday near the oval dirt track he dug as part of his project to build Thunder Ridge Motor Sports Park south of Craig. Kolbaba has moved more than 55,000 yards of dirt to revamp the land that was once the Moffat County Motocross Track. He plans to host races there starting in June.

Dirt developments: Craig native making progress on motor sports park

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Gregg Kolbaba works in late March to sculpt the oval dirt track he dug as part of building Thunder Ridge Motor Sports Park south of Craig. In addition to the dirt track for racing stock cars, Kolbaba also constructed a motocross track, which he plans to open up to the public through a membership program.

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Gregg Kolbaba stands Wednesday near a bulldozer at the site of Thunder Ridge Motor Sports Park south of Craig.

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Gregg Kolbaba works in late March to sculpt the oval dirt track as part of his project to build Thunder Ridge Motor Sports Park south of Craig.

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Gregg Kolbaba talks Wednesday about his project to build Thunder Ridge Motor Sports Park south of Craig.

Gregg Kolbaba said he heard a lot of feedback last winter when he announced his intention to turn a hillside south of the Moffat County Landfill into a large-scale motor sports park.

But, that community chatter died down quickly after, the Craig native said.

“It’s been pretty quiet — people here have an ‘I’ll believe it when I see it’ kind of an attitude,” he said. “Well, it is there for them to see now.”

Since mid-March, Kolbaba has kept busy transforming the field he gained control of through a deal with the Moffat County Commission into the idea he calls the Thunder Ridge Motor Sports Park.

After about 250 hours behind the controls of a bulldozer, Kolbaba and friend Joe Bower have moved 50,000 yards of dirt to rough in an oval dirt track for stock car racing. And that’s not including the dirt work for the motocross track he created, he said.

“Since the dirt really started moving, yeah, I’ve noticed quite a difference,” he said of others’ attitudes toward the project. “People are like, ‘Oh wow, he really is doing it.’ You can hear it in their voices.”

But, the tracks aren’t quite ready to ride just yet, he said.

For the three-eighths mile oval dirt track, Kolbaba has the dirt work finished and a top layer of clay placed, but the land is still too wet to pack the dirt in, he said.

“There’s a process there — it won’t be completely done until we near race time,” he said. “We’ll keep working the dirt until it’s race-worthy.”

However, the oval track isn’t an exact replica of what Kolbaba had envisioned, he said. During construction, he hit hard rock north of the track and had to make a slight reduction in size.

“I had to pull the straight-aways in a little bit just because of all the rock that I ran into on the hillside,” he said. “So, we kind of squeezed it in a little bit, but the length is the same as far as end to end.”

Soon, Kolbaba will start fine-tuning the features and jumps of the motocross track with a smaller bulldozer.

The shapes and jumps of such a track will “make or break it,” he said, adding there was a bit of “science” in the molding of a good track.

“You can’t shape stuff with a dozer that big,” he said. “You can try, and I did — I’m cutting a berm with a blade and it looks real nice and then you look around behind you and the tracks just destroyed it.”

Kolbaba has scheduled the first motocross race at the newly sculpted track for May 21. However, he plans to make the track available for public riding through a membership system in mid-May, he said.

“I don’t have to do near as much to have a motocross race as I do to have a stock car race,” he said. “There is a lot of stuff that has to be in place for a stock car race.”

Kolbaba is eyeing June 4 for his first stock car race, but he first has to add a section of bleachers, concrete barriers, safety fencing, a concessions stand, announcing booth and other amenities.

“If it is not a real wet spring, I won’t have trouble getting things finished and I should be able to make that June 4 race,” he said.

Despite the hundreds of hours of work he has put into revamping the track, which was once the Moffat County Motocross Track, he won’t get to enjoy racing on it this summer.

“I’ve got to focus on making sure this thing gets running smooth,” he said. “It is not going to run perfect right off the bat. I mean you’ve got to know what you’re dealing with before you know what you need.”

Kolbaba said he simply doesn’t have the time to sit back and admire his creation on the hillside.

“Right now, it is, ‘OK, this portion is done, move on to the next portion,’” he said. “You don’t stop and admire what you’ve done, you just keep pushing.”

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