Raising Auburn Hills with Tyson Hawkins – MXP Tuesday Chatter presented by Motovan.com

Tyson Hawkins may not be a name many recognize in motocross industry circles, but over the past year, he and his team have been re-building the legendary Auburn Hills Motocross Track.

Located just north of Auburn, Ontario, there has been no shortage of learning and hard work for the guys behind the vision. But after over a decade of no races at Auburn Hills, they are ready to welcome racers and families back to the facility for the 2022 season. We stopped by over the weekend to chat with Tyson and see what’s in store for this weekend’s AMO race and the 2022 season.

MXP: Hi Tyson, great to see you! First, let’s talk about you: who are you, where are you from and how did you get involved in motocross?

Tyson Hawkins: Well I am Tyson Hawkins and I am from Walkerton, Ontario. I started out riding as a kid and my home track was Paisley Rat Track. Ewald Rothamier would allow us to ride there throughout the week. He was always good to local kids. 

We have a business in Walkerton that has started to do well, and I used to love coming to Auburn. I had heard Auburn was on the market, so I got in contact with Bitzy (Tom Bitz) to see if it was really for sale. We got talking and worked out a deal on the farm about a year ago and here we are now. 

MXP: Now you are getting Auburn going again.  Ewald, especially, would do everything at his facility. He would jump from a dozer to a water truck and drop the gate minutes later. I bet you have a newfound respect for what Ewald used to do!

TH: If you went to Rat Track, you could always see their passion there and how hard Ewald worked. You didn’t need to know about motocross or putting on races; it was obvious.

He let us practice after school, and even then he would run around, making it good for us. He was a real beauty and looking back, we were lucky to have a guy like that in our area. 

MXP: It is obvious the investment you have made here at Auburn. Visually, there has been an incredible amount of work that has gone into getting this place back up and running. How has it been for you?

TH: When we bought the place right away we knew parking was going to be the big issue. There was erosion and not much flat land. So we started levelling land off. Josh Mann and Lloyd Collins came in and started grading the pits and the hills. The trees and scrub brush had grown in, so we cleaned them all out and dug some ponds out to get more water.

The track layout was still awesome, so we didn’t change much at all. Like I said there was a lot of erosion so we did have to reface and fix up places that had eroded away. 

Overall I have enjoyed it. All of my buddies have been helping, and we make it a good time. It has been fun.

MXP: We are a week away from your first two races. First AMO this weekend and then TVR here on the May long weekend. What are you looking forward to most?

TH: I am looking forward to seeing some familiar faces at the track that I haven’t seen in a while. I have been away from racing for 6-7 years now, and I am looking forward to seeing some friends I haven’t seen in a while.

I am looking forward to seeing racers on the track. This has been a year of work to get the place to the point we are racing, which has been the main goal. So seeing the first bikes on the track is going to be cool. 

MXP: Owning a track is pretty new for all of you. What have been some of the big surprises here?

TH: What has surprised us the most is the track prep. We thought it would be water, dozer work, and you are good to go! I thought it would be kind of easy, but it is a science, and each track is different. You need different equipment for different tracks and different preparation. It may work one way at Gopher Dunes or Walton, but that doesn’t mean it works at other tracks. Weather can throw all your plans out the window.  You need to build experience on how to prep areas, where to go, and where not to go. And it takes a team. There is a lot to it. 

Even something as simple as starting gates. You can line up behind gates a thousand times and never really understand how they work, why they are where they are or all the different things to consider for a race. 

I look at other tracks differently now. These other tracks have put a lot of money into their places, and people don’t see that always. They have worked really hard and made them good over the years. I have an idea now working here at Auburn, making some big changes in the past year, that it takes some cash and hard work to get things going. We are lucky as racers in Ontario to have so many good places to ride. 

MXP: You and the crew have been putting in a lot of hours here. You are the man who has the vision and has put this together, but there is obviously a team with you. Talk about them.

TH: Yes, So guys like Kelby Fisher have been out here helping anytime I have asked. One of my employees, Chill Murray, is here all the time. Josh Mann, who is a good rider and also an operator,  has been a big part of building things and giving different perspectives on things. Dallas Robertson has been facing sections and giving advice. Even the guys at Walton have popped over to help, to share some advice on things to think about and people to work with. 

It is a lot of work but a lot of fun to get to this point. And we are going to learn a lot in the first weekend for sure. I am sure we will look back in a few weeks and have many ideas on everything here. 

MXP: We know the focus right now is on the first few races, but what do you see for the future of Auburn?

TH: Yeah, we have put a lot of money into Auburn, so we hope to have events for the next 10 years at least.  We want to keep working on being better each year. We see the improvement each year at other tracks, and it is something we try to do in our own personal business. We hope we can get to a place where we can have more events. We are only allowed four events per year, so we would like to get it so that we have the option for the races and also some open practice dates.  

I would love to have some big practice days in the future with camping and weekends of riding. Those are some of the best memories I have as a kid.

MXP: Any last words?

TH: I just want to say thanks. Thanks to Hawkins Electrical Contracting – our own company. We used equipment, staff and time from the company to work on this.  Big thanks to Kelby (Fisher), Dallas (Robertson), Chill (Murray) and Josh (Mann) for sure.  There are no races without those guys. They have been awesome. There is more I am forgetting right now, but I really appreciate everyone.  AND Bitzy for selling me the place! (Laughs)

MXP: Are we going to see the man, the myth, the legend Tom Bitz at the races?

TH: I haven’t heard from him, but I hope so. We will see. I still remember him going from the skid steer to his old Suzuki and jumping the tunnel jump in a sleeveless shirt!!!

MXP: Thanks for doing this, Tyson and good luck.

TH: Thank you, I appreciate this! Thanks to all the riders, the crews at AMO and TVR who have been reaching out.  We are looking forward to this!

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