No ‘Short Track’ series at Portland International Raceway this year

Racers and fans at a PIR Short Track event in 2011.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic the 2020 bike racing season was nearly wiped out completely. This season has gotten off to a very promising start with huge field sizes and lots of enthusiasm; but this morning we got some bad news. The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association has announced that the Portland Short Track Series will not happen.

2021 would have been the 17th season for the beloved, weekday, off-road races that are held at Portland International Raceway (PIR) just north of downtown Kenton. Short Track is a discipline where people use mountain bikes to compete on a course that offers a mix of grassy double-track, tight singletrack through roots and trees, and the big highlight: whoops, berms, and drops on a motocross course. One of the best things about Short Track is how close it is to Portland, which means many people are able to bike to the event after work.

Interestingly, Short Track organizer Tony Kic said the cancellation happened due to a mix of factors (not just Covid). “After a long month of planning and deliberation PIR management has decided not to allow STXC [short track cross country] this summer,” Kic shared in an email to OBRA members. “Various issues and conflicts with the venue and other users have compounded over the years, the pandemic and some changes in leadership prompted new restrictions and priorities that squeeze out our little bike party.”

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Dirty fun for all ages: Dispatch from the Short Track MTB series finale

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Kids love short track.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last night was the end to another great season of “Short Track” mountain bike racing out at PIR (Portland International Raceway, adjacent to Delta Park and north of the Kenton neighborhood). About 300 people of all ages and abilities found their way to the venue for some good, old-fashioned, elbow-to-elbow racing action.

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Respected Portland bike rider Ken Pliska suffers major stroke – UPDATED

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Ken Pliska leading a ride at Sandy Ridge.
(Photo: Ken Pliska)

Ken Pliska, known to many people for his involvement with cycling in the Portland area since the 1970s, is currently in the hospital recovering from a major stroke.

Pliska, who just celebrated his 50th birthday (at The Lumberyard Bike Park of course) on February 8th, was found unconscious in his home three days later. He was rushed to Oregon Health and Science University where doctors performed considered brain surgery to relieve hemorrhaging but were able to get it under control with non-invasive methods. After several scary days, friends and relatives report that he’s doing much better now although he faces a very long road to recovery.

Pliska is most well-known in the BMX scene where he’s been a competitor for decades and now helps introduce young riders to the sport. He’s a beloved figure among BMX promoters, riders, and the industry — many of whom are flooding the Internet with positive thoughts and prayers for their friend. He has also raced mountain bikes at the Short Track race series at Portland International Raceway, completed century rides on the road, and has also ridden his bike to work. According to The Oregonian he rode in the first Portland New Year’s Day Ride in 1978 when he was 12 years old.

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In Portland, there’s a local bike race every night of the week

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The racing season has arrived in Portland.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s national reputation for cycling has more to do with commuting than any other type of riding (with naked riding a close second).

But what many people don’t fully appreciate is the local racing scene. With the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) providing a dedicated and competent backbone, Portland is full of race promoters and volunteers who put on a variety of excellent events. Add in a local business community eager to sponsor and support them and you’ve got the makings of a healthy racing scene.

In fact, starting this week, it’s possible to join an organized race event within a few miles of downtown Portland Monday through Friday. And on some nights there’s more than one option!

Scroll down to learn more about all the weeknight racing action available in this city…

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Rider left paralyzed after ‘freak’ crash during Portland mountain bike race – UPDATED

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Mat Barton before the start of a race last year.
(Photo: Kris Schamp)

Offers of help, positive thoughts and prayers are pouring in from the community tonight as we learn that 31-year-old Portland resident Mat Barton is paralyzed from the chest down following a crash during a mountain bike race at Portland International Raceway on Monday night.

Barton, a skilled and experienced racer, was competing in a singlespeed race at the Portland Short Track series when he hit a series of large bumps, got thrown off balance, and fell head first at high speed. Kenji Sugahara, executive director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association, says Barton suffered a serious spinal cord injury. He underwent surgery at Legacy Emanuel Hospital last night to remove broken vertebra. The surgery was successful, but doctors believe his paralysis will be permanent.

According to a journal being kept by a family member, Barton remains in the Intensive Care Unit and is already working on his physical therapy and recovery.

Sugahara told us that injuries of this sort are extremely rare. The last spinal cord injury that happened during an OBRA race, he said, dates back to the 1980s. “As with any athletic event there are certain risks that we take. What Mat experienced was an atypical event.”

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Back in the (racing) saddle at Short Track

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Flames to make me look faster and
circa 1995 bib shorts to muster
up my glory days.
(Photo: Tomas/Team Slow)

Last night I ventured out to Portland International Raceway (PIR) to take part in the weekly Short Track MTB race series. It’s been over five years since I last raced, so I was long overdue.

Portland is lucky to have such a great facility like PIR so close to the city, and to have such a healthy racing scene.

PIR was full of bikes, racers, families, and fans. Not only was the dirt track and infield buzzing with mountain bikes but there was also a criterium race going on at the main track.

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‘Short track’ race series begins tonight at PIR

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This man has been infected
by Short Track.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Tonight is the kickoff of the Portland Short Track Series, an off-road racing event that takes place for the next seven weeks out at Portland International Raceway.

Short Track is an addictive mix of mountain-biking, cyclocross, and BMX-style racing. Event promoter Kris Schamp of Portland Racing and his crew of staff and volunteers route the course on the PIR motorcross track and through the trees and trails on the race track’s infield to create a type of racing that’s just as fun to watch as it is to race.

The Short Track series consists of seven Mondays from tonight through August 2nd and there are races for kids, men, and women of all ages and abilities.

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Bike racing rules at PIR on Mondays: A Short Track slideshow

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Whooping it up at Short Track.
-Slideshow below/Gallery
(Photos © J. Maus)

Made it out to the Short Track MTB Racing series at Portland International Raceway last night.

It was a very healthy scene. Organizer/promoter Kris Schamp is getting nearly 400 participants each Monday and it’s easy to see why. The vibe is fun and welcoming and the course is a real treat (although last night’s was pretty tough on folks).

What’s even more amazing about Monday nights at PIR is there’s also road racing going on. Jim Anderson’s River City Race Monday Night series brings in a solid crowd of masters and women racers. To see them flying around the track just yards from mountain bike racers kicking up dust, is a real testament to the health of Portland’s race scene.

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Popularity of ‘Short Track’ race series skyrockets

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Short track MTB racing

Short Track series organizer
Kris Schamp.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Portland Mountain Bike Short Track Race Series, which wrapped up its six-race series at Portland International Raceway (PIR) last night, has tallied a record number of participants.

Event founder and organizer Kris Schamp reports that for the first time ever, there were over 400 entries into last night’s event and that he tallied a 65% increase in the amount of unique racers (some folks race more than once per event) from last year.

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‘Short Track’ off-road race series begins tonight

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Short Track MTB Racing at PIR

The Short Track course is long on fun.
More photos here
(Photos © J. Maus)

Mountain bikers will be the main event at Portland International Raceway (PIR) tonight when the Mountain Bike Short Track Series kicks off. The series will continue each of the next six Mondays through the end of July.

Organizer Kris Schamp says given the event’s popularity he’ll keep the racing format the same as previous years. Racers and spectators love the motocross-style courses (which change each week) with their double-jumps, roller-coaster whoop sections, sharp turns, berms, and even a bit of singletrack.

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