A different kind of horsepower will be on display this weekend at the Darby Rodeo Grounds.
With this year’s bull and bronc riding season done, the focus will turn from hooves to wheels as Darby hosts its first Moto Round Up on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22 and 23.
The event will bring outlaw karts, motorcycles, quads and side-by-sides to the arena for a variety of races, including a motorized version of the same barrel race that’s an integral part of any rodeo.
“They’ll be running the exact same pattern that they do at a rodeo,” said event organizer Sean Jackson. “I think it’s going to be exciting to watch. I bet the people who come will be on their feet.”
Spectators on Saturday night will also get a chance to watch an exhibition race featuring the winged outlaw karts that will zoom around the straw-lined arena at a dizzying pace.
“Outlaw cart racing is really popular back east,” Jackson said. “The Wild West Shootout race in Missoula in July attracts racers from as far away as California, Oregon and Washington.”
Jackson has spent most of his life around dirt sprint car racing.
“Outlaw kart racing is about as close to dirt sprint car racing as you can get,” he said. “This is the real deal. There will be people my age out there racing. My grandkids will be there racing, too. They started when they were 4-years-old.”
The proceeds from the event will benefit the Darby High School shop program and the Darby Volunteer Fire Department’s effort to build a cadet program.
“This is an opportunity to give those kids who enjoy motorized sports to get excited,” said Darby High School shop teacher Max Fielder. “We’ve received a huge amount of help from the community to help make this happen. It’s hard to say where it might go from here.”
The event starts at on Saturday. The gates open at 9 a.m. and practice runs will start at 10. There will be a qualifying round at 1 p.m., with the Outlaw Kart race to start at 6 p.m. Live music by Billy G will happen after the race at the Quonset hut next to the arena.
The wheels will get quite a bit smaller around 4 p.m. on Saturday when the action will shift to the nearby skatepark for the second annual Darby Skate Jam.
Last year, the event attracted skaters aged 6 to 42, said organizer Bryan Dufresne. Skaters came from as far away as Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to participate in the two competitions that include the High Ollie and Best Run, which gives competitors a minute to show off their skills across the entire park. Prizes are awarded to the winners.
“It should be a great family event,” Dufresne said.
There are free raffle opportunities for everyone who attends. Those who choose can kick in a few bucks to buy raffle tickets for a chance to win skate decks and clothing. The funds will go toward the beautification and upkeep of the park.
Dufresne said fundraising continues toward the purchase of sod and a gazebo.
Practice rounds for the motorized barrel racing will get started on Sunday at 10 a.m., with finals at 1 p.m.
Sunday also features a car show between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Jackson said he expects a wide variety of vehicles ranging from race cars to mud boggers.
The cost for admission is $10 a day or $15 for the two days. Kids under 10 get in free.
“All the kids from the Darby school will get in free,” Jackson said. “We’re focused on helping out the school however we can … This will be a non-alcoholic event.”
Jackson hopes that outlaw kart racing is something that will catch on in Darby. The arena is just right to host races in the future.
“I would love to see five to 10 events next year,” Jackson said. “These things are noisy. We’ll have to wait to see what the world thinks before we start planning for anything in advance.”
The plan calls for races to be done by 7 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.
“All the noise will be over by then,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that we weren’t keeping people up too late. We did get the support of the city council. Everyone we’ve talked to so far seems real enthusiastic. It should be a lot of fun.”