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Area racetrack plays host to national motorcross event

There's a hidden source of tourism revenue that lies just beyond the McDuffie County/Wilkes County border.

Luckily enough, it didn't take McDuffie County tourism officials too long to find it.

The AMA Grand National Cross Country motocross series will be holding its General GNCC event in nearby Aonia Pass on March 6 and 7.

While the track is located technically in Wilkes County, McDuffie County should end up reaping most of the financial benefits. Last year, 1,300 riders competed in the event.

"I think last year was the first time it was really a huge event," said Thomson-McDuffie Tourism Director Gerald Baygents, who said that race officials are promoting McDuffie County's hotels, restaurants and other amenities to racers and their families -- and not Washington's.

"We have all the motels here; we have the restaurants because of our I-20," said Mr. Baygents. "We have a little bit more to offer. It's made it more of a Thomson tourism product than Washington."

In fact, on the GNCC website, only Thomson hotels are listed as accommodations for the event.

While tourism officials will certainly welcome traffic from the race, one of Pine Top Farm's premier events -- the USBA and USAE Horse Trials -- happens to be held on the very same weekend as the General GNCC. Mr. Baygents said he figures the weekend of March 6 and 7 to be an extremely busy one for McDuffie County hotels and restaurants.

"We won't be able to handle the business from those two events," he said. "There's no way. We got caught with this one -- both of these events are set way in advance. We'd rather have too much business than not enough."

The purse for the nearly three hour-long General GNCC will be around $500,000. Not only will the race involve dirt bikes, but ATVs as well. The AMA GNCC will broadcast a one-hour television show about the race on the Speed Channel.



Web posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004


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