This is just crazy… before you even read any of the interview, scroll through the before and after photos and try and imagine the amount of cash and shovel time that went into this little project.Amazing… Basically, the deal with this was that Mike had just bought the house (and all the land that came with it). He wanted a track that he could ride pretty much year-round and not have to worry about getting bored. He got Billy Au to fly out, and with his help (not to mention a few tractors and some way-cool neighbors), the perfect beast was built. Keep in mind that the building was going on at the exact same time Mike was getting his first shipment of Elite shoes in and the exact same time he was getting married. All we can say is that Mike’s got a very understanding wife. Here’s what he had to say about his creation.

This is what Mike’s backyard used to look like…  credit: Mike Gentilcore

Did you do all the building yourself or did you have help?
I had tons of help. My neighbor Rick was a heavy equipment operator in the Gulf War. He and his right-hand man, Josh Burkette, did the initial excavation, which was a major job. Then I flew in Billy Au right after the X Games downhill build to actually build the track. After that, Matt Silvia, Phil Potosnak, and myself did months of finishing work by hand.

Was it Bobcat-built or did you do it by hand?
We started off the initial excavation with a 25-ton track loader. We carved into a hill and pushed about 2,500 cubic yards of dirt to one side to make a pile 11 feet high, 40 feet wide, and about 200 feet long, completely dwarfing everything around it. Then Billy worked his magic and put it all back with a slightly smaller wheel loader.

How much did it cost to do?
About eight grand so far, which really isn’t that much when you stand there and take in the size of the project. That’s about as much as you’d pay for a used car… Except dirt is a much better investment (laughs).

How long did it take from the time you broke ground until the time you were riding?
It took one week to excavate, four days to build, and a week to start doing some runs, but we’re still doing the finishing work: shaping, drainage, and dealing with all the settling. We basically dug almost every night from September to January, digging in the snow and wind until it got too deep. There were days I was out digging at 5:30 am before work and Phil and Matt were under the lights until 11pm on the same night. There are underground drains and everything. We even have drain caps on top of the doubles and tabletops so no erosion occurs on the transitions or sides. Then we applied a quarry dust surface to fighterosion and make it stay rideable into January. That’s why it’s taking so long… You either make it erosion proof from the start or you’ll never stay on top of it.

Did you have an idea of what you wanted before you started building or was it just something that evolved as you went along?
This thing was so planned out in detail that I drove Billy nuts. I put the whole design on computer and then followed him around with a scaled drawing and a tape measure to make sure it was just right. He was like “Okay, you can go back to work now, I don’t need you here” (laughs). The guy builds the best tracks in history and there I am being a pain in the butt.

Check the surface on the first straight; it’s not paved, just coated with this stuff that repels rain. Tech.  credit: Mike Gentilcore

What’s the best part about having a backyard traack?
Being able to go totally crazy and rent huge equipment and just move insane amounts of earth. After decades of doing it the hard way, it was such a release. I was like a drug addict with a 200-foot long mountain of cocaine in front of me…except it was dirt. And Billy is so good at what he does—jumps were just appearing at an alarming rate. It was surreal; I didn’t want to take him back to the airport. Hopefully we can get him back for the upcoming downhill stuff.

For the kids who want to get their yard running, what advice would you give them?
Computers and tape measures are for kooks… Wing it! (laughs). Seriously though, give it everything you’ve got… Go the extra mile to build what you envision. Work hard, ride hard, and live it up. You only live once.

A full size track, with plenty of straights resembling trails… Nice work, guys.  credit: Mike Gentilcore

Some Facts about the track:
-Footprint: 100X300 ft
-Straightaway length: 250 ft
-Turns: three 180’s, 45 foot diameter, 8-11 feet tall
-Straightaways: 4 main runs, with each split in half for a total of 8 straights, with two 8 foot wide lanes into and out of each corner.
-The track contains two first straights (one wide open, one super technical), three rhythm section straights, and two straights with big doubles designed to link to upcoming downhill runs that will jump into, out of, and over the existing berms, using them as hips.
-The starting hill has two eight-foot wide lanes, each with its own slope. One side is long and flat, the other short and steep
-A quarry dust coating allows riding well into January, minimizes erosion, and dries quickly after rain.
-Lights for night riding.

Random facts:
The first Elite Footwear shipment arrived during the track build, all of this two weeks before the Gentilcore wedding. “At one point my fiance ended up in the warehouse where the team was working, Billy and MCM {Mike McCafferty} were working on the wedding seating chart on the pool table, and I was outside yelling ‘Alright now, everyone back to your stations, we got work to do!'”

Amateur planes from a nearby airport have began to circle the farm out of curiosity. It’s not uncommon to see more than one plane circling overhead while you’re on the starting hill.

With the starting hills and a few of the berms built into a hill side, the amount of dirt needed to build the track was overestimated, leaving a mountain of dirt on the last straightaway and painting Billy into a corner between the track and the property line. At that point, it was uncertain as to whether the straightway could be cleared, yet alone built. Billy compensated by making some jumps taller and the rhythm extra deep and was just able to plow through to the finish line.

Mike: “Do you think that set is too far to clear?”
Billy Au: “Go big, or go home”, pointing at the back porch.