Extreme earthmoving

By: Ron Horner

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Behind the scenes of the Australian Supercross Championship is a team of operators working to the highest standard to build and dismantle the course in difficult conditions. Ron Horner was there watching a Cat earthmoving machine fleet do what it does best

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Cat Rental fleet ready for action

A couple of months ago, my videographer Michael Grassick, who has a passion for motorcycle sports, suggested we take a look at the upcoming Australian Supercross Championship to be held at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre – an event that requires a huge amount of precision earthmoving to quickly build and then demolish the track.

During the preliminary discussions it was stated that the crew were struggling to secure a sponsor/earthmoving equipment supplier and that’s when my name was put forward as a possible contact.

Now, for a broken down Kangaroo Shooter from Cobar who has never been involved in motocross, super bikes, moto GP or supercross, I had little interest other than being a support for Grassick’s passion of filming anything that is deemed exciting.

However, that all changed when the word ‘earthmoving’ was mentioned so I gave them the nod and took up the challenge.

When you are in this earthmoving game and you are placed under self-imposed pressure to secure half a dozen machines varying in size and capacity from the same brand, where would you first turn?

I have always said that when you eventually reach your limitations and you have to secure someone to move your dream, passion or project forward, always look for the best in the game and pay them the money accordingly.

That has never failed me in 40 years of business.

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Getting some practice in before the crowds arrive

THE SOLUTION

A phone call to Hastings Deering senior marketing manager Chris Symons, outlining the proposition for Hastings /Cat Rental to come on board as a full co-sponsor of the event and supply the selected equipment to build the indoor supercross track was acknowledged.

Within three days Hastings/Cat Rental had jumped on board and the rest is history.

Working closely with the management team, Hastings Deering/Cat Rental were able to supply a full wish list of gear required to make the event not only successful but extremely memorable for everyone in attendance, both in front of and behind the scenes.

The earthmoving equipment required by the professional motocross track builder, Josh Proctor of ProTrax, was extensive and included a 323F and two 315F excavators, two 279D tracked skid steer loaders and a brand new 962M loader.

The gear was dropped off well before time and sitting on the pavement, in such pristine condition, made it look more like a line-up of a Ritchie Bros Auction than a few day and night shifts of work.

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PRESSURE BUILDS

The 3,500 cubic metres of material required to build the undercover track was already onsite and in close proximity to the stadium. The lovely Cat 962M loader was immediately put to work, loading trucks through the night and early into the next day as the heavens opened.

Mother Nature’s effort was timed to perfection and made the timeframe for the build a touch more difficult.

As everyone watched in anticipation, Proctor and his dedicated and skilled crew worked tirelessly to create a magnificent track in a very tight arena and under extreme pressure and timeframes.

The two Cat 315Fs were involved in shaping up the track whilst the 279D tracked compact loaders were busily levelling the base materials, compacting them and shaping up those high jumps.

To achieve this was not all about just "chucking some dirt on the ground and shaping it up".

The indoor arena houses numerous performances and is spotlessly clean on acceptance and in the same condition upon handover. Thousands of square metres of Marine Plywood overlaid with black plastic and sheeting was placed over the existing floorboards to ensure no damage occurred to the flooring during the event and was carefully and painstakingly removed after the show.

The lighting, signage, audio and cameras, safety concerns, precise measurements of distances, gradients, berm construction, start and finish mechanics and electricals and medical services were all meticulously checked and rechecked before given the green light to proceed.

The behind scenes activity and scrutinising was really an eye opener for me. To witness first-hand the crew’s efforts, teamwork and co-ordination to create this visual spectacle, none of which is seen by the public, for a four-hour event was amazing.

To make it even more amazing was the fact that the minute the last member of the public had left the building at 1am the ProTrax team, again led by Josh Proctor, climbed aboard the Cat Rental fleet and commenced ripping the track apart in an effort to meet handover deadlines for the following day.

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SUPERCROSS

Not everything was under pressure as I noted whilst getting a quick run-through of how the Series had progressed by talking with the CDR Yamaha Monster Energy Team owner and former motocross champion Craig Dack.

Dack won four consecutive Mister Motocross Championships before retiring and now heads up the most successful dirt bike team in Australian history, claiming over 30 titles thus far.

Australian supercross is becoming popular for overseas riders; Brisbane had six Americans and an Englishman competing in Australian factory teams for the season. The final round in Melbourne will bring 10 overseas high calibre riders whom use our Australian Series for training for the American AMA Super Cross which starts in January.

Justin Brayton (US) riding for Penrite Honda Team has won the last three Australian Supercross Championships and is going for his fourth title. He had his full American Honda Factory bike in Brisbane and it was significantly different to the opposition.

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Josh Proctor (ProTrax) and Ron Horner

IT’S A WRAP

I witnessed the crew build the track in record time and under extreme timeframe and weather pressures, maintain the track through the breaks in the race events, pull the place apart (again overnight) in an effort to meet deadline and handover targets, then leave the place spotlessly cleaned in readiness for the next live show.

I keep using the word "amazing" because that is what I witnessed and experienced but none of this event could have proceeded without the intervention of a fleet of Caterpillar Equipment supplied by Hastings Deering and Cat Rental of Brisbane.

In our world we use and see our jobs progress on a daily, monthly or even yearly basis and take for granted that the earthmoving equipment we use can only complete tasks of which we can undertake.

Rarely does the public get to witness the behind the scenes efforts of the operators and machinery utilised to create a spectacle such as this, as if it were magic the indoor arena appeared out of nowhere and then disappeared just as quickly and all under the cover of darkness and stealth.

I often refer to the analogy of old Cat gear by stating: "Cat … built to be rebuilt."

Maybe we can entice the Caterpillar distributors Australia-wide to be involved with this sport and continue the platform and standards set by the boys from Hastings/Cat Rental and we can say :

"Cat tracks … built to be rebuilt."

 

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