SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – The Western Reserve Motorcycle Club in Salem is a place where generations of families race and where one professional flat track racer from Ohio got his start.
The flat track and the volunteers at WRMC have given racers and families an opportunity to have fun and accomplish their professional dreams.
Professional racer Jarod Vanderkooi has competed at tracks all over the country, but he has fond memories of the track in Salem from when he was 10 years old. Vanderkooi said the volunteers at the nonprofit are there because they have a common love.
“They’re there because they have the love of the sport and the love of motorcycling, and I think that shows when you’re there,” Vanderkooi said.
The racer is excited to return to his old stomping grounds on Saturday, April 15, where the Western Reserve Motorcycle Club will hold its first flat track race of the 2023 season.
Vanderkooi, 25, of Edison, Ohio near Mansfield said racing has been a family atmosphere. His grandfather raced, and Jarod’s father, along with his three uncles also raced. Jarod said that his father was his greatest influence.
When he was a young racer, he met who would eventually be his sponsors and longtime friends, Bob Davis and his son Robbie Davis. Bob has been a member of the Western Reserve Motorcycle Club for the past 15 years. His son, Robbie, has been around the club his whole life and he has been a member since 2021. Bob originally heard about the club from one of his employees at his business Fairway Ford in Canfield.
Bob said that he was impressed with Jarod and that he and his family were great people to get to know.
“He was an impressive young man and his dad and his family were just real, real, genuine people, and for whatever reason, we stayed in touch,” Bob said.
Bob, Robbie and the Davis family would help sponsor Jarod and cover travel expenses for his races so that he could compete. Vanderkooi was able to turn pro at the age of 16 and won the Saddleman Seats Rookie of the Year in 2015.
He is a competitor in the American Flat Track (AFT) series. The AFT series consists of 18 rounds. In 2022, Jarod won his first pro twins race in Volusia, Florida. Vanderkooi took second place in the SuperTwins class race at Daytona International Speedway in early March 2023
The Davis family has also shared many memories together at the track.
Robbie Davis remembered heading out to the track with his father, Bob, and trying to beat him in a race. Bob jokingly said Robbie has only beaten him in a race once or twice.
Bob, Robbie, and Robbie’s son, Ryder, now have over 30 years of combined racing experience at the club. Gabbie Davis, Bob’s daughter, used to race at the club as well.
“We were together every weekend there at the club riding, and if we weren’t at the club riding, we were riding somewhere else. So we’re doing something else that had motorcycles involved. So my dad and I both really, really grew close to each other around the club, and now it’s great because I’m doing the same thing with my son,” Robbie said.
The flat track also serves as a place where racers and volunteers work together to maintain the track to give racers opportunities to compete. Bob said that it takes at least a week of preparation to get the track ready for race day. The team mows the grounds, has a big cleanup, and takes care of everything that needs maintenance. A total of 18 race days will be held at the Western Reserve Motorcycle Club this year.
The club consists of 50 members, with 20 of them being life members. The club has a waiting list for those who wish to be members. If people who want to be members show interest in joining the club, they go through a probationary period for a couple of months in which they must volunteer at races before they can be voted in. Bob said that the volunteers get together and help for the good of the sport.
“There’s nobody at our club who gets a paycheck. It’s all for the good of the sport and to be a part of that. It’s about being a part of the camaraderie of motorcycle guys and having a place to go and ride dirt bikes and being around people that like to do the same thing,'” Bob said.
The WRMC was first formed in 1957. After decades of being a flat track, the track became a supercross track in the 1990s. A short time after Bob became a member, a fellow member Tom Morgan led the charge to bring back the flat track to WRMC.
The 100-acre facility includes a one-quarter mile dirt flat track, an outdoor motocross track, a separate pee wee motocross track, and several hare scramble wood courses.
Jarod Vanderkooi will be signing autographs at WRMC from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on April 15, and he will be racing at night. Tickets are $15 for adults, and children under age 6 get in free.
Anyone who is interested in becoming a member or racing at the track should call 330-332-0818 or visit the Western Reserve Motorcycle Club’s website.