Fast & Safe
Kauai Motocross Association (KMXA) is putting safety first. Since inheriting responsibility for Wailua Dirtbike Park Jan. 1, the nonprofit has helped create a safer environment, including updating the track.
Brian Barretto, president of KMXA, actually would like to put the word “safety” into the organizationâ€™s name “because thatâ€™s really all we want is to make sure our kids have a good time and keep it safe,” he explains.
“That is our purpose here. All weâ€™re here to do is to give people a nice, fun place to ride because a lot of us have to go back to work the next day.”
Currently, the group boasts a record number of members, which Barretto attributes to its new mission and philosophy, which includes clinics offered on a regular basis to teach proper riding skills, especially for small keiki.
“Knowledge is power,” he says. “If you teach them everything they need to know about the possibilities and how you have to respect the motorcycle and what it can do — you can get seriously hurt — theyâ€™ll be more cautious,” he says.
Barretto even talks to kids about the responsibility of taking part in the sport, as it takes time and money to facilitate it.
“Kids who get to do this in the first place are lucky to have the opportunity,” he says.
Barretto, a Kapaa High School graduate, instills citizenship into the clinics as well, such as encouraging good grades and completing chores around the house.
“Mom and Dad work hard to give you this opportunity to ride, so obviously you need to work hard to earn it,” he says.
The ambitious Kauai native, a full-time contractor who voluntarily runs the organization in his free time, also has plans for the park to encompass more than just motocross — a sport in which people race dirt bikes on a regulated track that varies with jumps and turns, and can be muddy or dry and dusty. Aside from the already existing dirt bike tracks — a regular track for more experienced motorcyclists and a keiki track for beginners or ages 3 to about 9 — he would like to add a BMX (dirt bicycle) track to the grounds.
His lofty goals require that he spend most weekends at the track.
“Because I love it that much,” he admits.
Barretto used to ride motorcycle dirt bikes, but jokes, “Iâ€™ve since then wised up.” He started riding at 15, when he was old enough to purchase his own motorcycle, a used Yamaha. He earned it by bagging groceries at just $3 per hour. It may have taken a while, but as soon as he could afford it, he got his bike and was riding as much as he could.
“I had the greatest time,” he recalls, “and from that point on, I was totally hooked.”
He reached expert level by the time he was a senior in high school and recalls being only about 19 years old when he was selected as one of the three best riders on Kauai to participate in Aloha Supercross on Oahu.
“It was like a dream come true,” he says.
He also won a championship at a motocross event on Oahu, but that was before he had a family and his priorities changed. Now his 16-year-old son Treysen has taken up the sport. A chip off the old block, the Kamehameha student was only 3 when he first hopped on a motorcycle and was competing by the time he was 5. Barretto recalls that, at less than a year old, Treysen would want to ride with him on his motorcycle when he came home from work. Heâ€™d put his sonâ€™s foam helmet on him and drive in slow circles around the neighborhood culde- sac while Treysen slept.
“And as soon as Iâ€™d stop the bike, he woke up,” says Barretto, who with wife Shari has two more children, Cheyenne and Cienna.
Barretto is excited to pass on his passion for motocross.
“The kids just make me smile when theyâ€™re out there enjoying themselves and theyâ€™re not getting hurt,” he says.
Races, in which classes are broken down by age groups and engine size, are held regularly at Wailua Dirtbike Park. The Super Spring Race Series Finale is set for Saturday and Sunday (May 23 and 24) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Round one of the Sizzlinâ€™ Summer Race Series begins June 14. For more information, visit the nonprofitâ€™s Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Kauai-Motocross-Association/1395818447382802.