Helper supports plans for off-road race event
Helper's city council pledged to support plans to host a race for off-highway motorcycles and four-wheelers in early June and approved an overnight camping permit for the event.
Race promoter Ken Kirkwood approached the council in 2006 to let city officials know about his plans and appeared again before the council on Feb. 15 to give an update and make preliminary arrangements for the event.
"I think Helper's committed to it," said Mayor Mike Dalpiaz. "We want to make it a good first event so we can say it's the 15th year one of these years, just like we do with the arts festival and light parade."
Kirkwood indicated that he has charted a course which stretches across a 40-mile loop beginning June 2 and ending June 3 in Helper.
The majority of the course will be on United States Bureau of Land Management property located east of Helper. However, before the BLM will address the matter, Kirkwood said he must work with private property owners to gain access across a mile or so of their land.
Once completed, the local event will be part of the Utah Sportsman Riders Association's desert race circuit.
Kirkwood said he expects the race to attract between 200 and 300 riders. With support crews, more than 1,000 visitors could spend a weekend in Helper for the event.
To host the event, race organizers will need space for possibly hundreds of travel trailers, trucks, cars and off-highway vehicles.
The city council approved a five-night camping permit for the event for May 30 through June 4.
The mayor explained the extra days are to allow organizers and vendors to arrive and set up before the event and clean up after the race.
Most participants will not arrive until June 1 or June 2. After racing on Saturday and Sunday, most riders and support crews will leave by Sunday night, with some vendors and race organizers possibly staying until Monday.
The council suggested possible locations for staging areas. The sites included the space outside the home run fence at the American Legion baseball and locations farther up Spruce Street closer to the city cemetery.
City officials added that event goers should be kept from parking in cemetery parking lot and should keep their distance from the cemetery.
Kirkwood said one of his biggest concerns was getting from the staging areas in Helper to the city's old landfill, where the trail heads east. The council suggested two possible routes - including 200 East and 500 East. Kirkwood said he was willing to impose a speed limit on riders in the city and planned on restricting speeds in the staging areas.
The mayor said in most cases, the city has an easement which is wider than the paved surface of its roads. He suggested it may be possible to barricade a portion of the road and use the city's easements to provide race participants with a route from staging areas to the start line.
Racers are split into classes, with each class running separately. Kirkwood said with the number of classes, start times would be staggered throughout the day. As a result, the route selected for the event will be closed during most of the two-day event.
Dalpiaz assigned Councilmember Kirk Mascaro to work with Kirkwood to develop a plan for the event in the city.
That plan will include the various sites where race participants can part vehicles and trailers, staging areas, locations of portable toilets and routes for riders to and from the race course.
Kirkwood also asked the city's position on vendors. Though he has contacts with vendors from outside the area, Kirkwood explained that he is willing to get local vendors as well.
"I would hope you would contact local businesses and give them the first opportunity," said Dalpiaz. He added that if Helper's business community fails to meet the needs of the event, Kirkwood could bring in outside vendors.
The council reminded Kirkwood that vendors would need to comply with local and state taxing and health ordinances.