Supercross, Monster Trucks come to Petco Park

Dirt-racing events fill 4 of the next 5 Saturdays

Supercross, Monster Trucks come to Petco Park

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Since the end of the baseball season, Petco Park has been a golf course, a basketball arena, a concert hall and a winter wonderland.

Now, it's going to become San Diego's leading motorsports venue.

Over the next five Saturday nights, Petco Park will host four motorsports events geared to the young and old alike.

For the second straight year, Petco Park will be home to the American Motorcyclist Association's Supercross series. But instead of being an "annual" event, this year there are two Supercrosses at Petco Park -- this Satuday and Feb. 13.

In between the book-end Supercrosses, there will be two rounds of the Monster Jam series featuring Monster Trucks and other plus-size, four-wheel vehicles -- Jan. 23 and Feb. 6.

Approximately 500 truckloads of dirt -- or 26 million pounds -- have been brought into Petco Park to build the obstacles for the two events. After the four motorsports events, the dirt will be hauled out and a new playing field will be installed for the baseball season.

While this will be the 32nd year that the popular Monster Energy Supercross series has visited San Diego, this Saturday's event will be only the second at Petco Park. The packed house on hand for the 2015 event led tour officials to grant San Diego an additional date on the '16 schedule.

Oklahoman Trey Canard rode a Honda to victory in the inaugural Petco Park Supercross last year, with Ken Roczen second on a Suzuki and Ryan Dungey third on a KTM.

Leading the field into the second of 2016's 17-race schedule will be 26-year-old Dungey, who won his second season championship last season and is also a four-time outdoor Motocross national champion.

A native of Belle Plaine, Minn., Dungey has 22 career motocross race wins and 60 combined Supercross-Motocross wins to rank fourth on the career victory list behind Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath and James Stewart. He comes to San Diego riding a string of 18 straight top-three finishes.

Dungey is not the only Supercross attraction, however.

Husqvarna's Jason Anderson won last week's season opener at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, with Dungey finishing second following an early collision with former champion Stewart. Cole Seeley finished third on a Honda, with Eli Tomac fourth on a Kawasaki ahead of Roczen. Tomac finished second in the final season standings last year, while Seeley was third.

Another rider to watch is Chad Reed. The 33-year-old native of Australia has scored a record six wins in San Diego, although his most recent victory was at Qualcomm Stadium in 2011.

One rider who could be missing is Stewart, who is being tested under the concussion protocol following last week's crash. The former champion returned to the circuit last week after being suspended for the 2015 season.

Saturday night's racing starts at 6:30 PT, although the track opens to practice and qualifying in both the 450cc Supercross and 250cc support class at noon.

The Monster Jam events following the first Supercross will feature such vehicles as the Grave Digger, Blue Thunder, Wolverine and King Krunch.