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The following article was taken from today's edition of the the Press-Enterprise

SOBOBA RESERVATION: Park operators say there's a lease. An international competition is at stake.

SOBOBA RESERVATION - The Soboba Tribe of Luiseno Indians has voted to shut down a motocross track recently built on tribal lands.

The operators of Competition Park say that their lease means the tribe's action will have no effect on the track or a prestigious international competition scheduled there this month.

The vote to close the track comes a little more than three months after Competition Park moved to the nearby reservation from San Jacinto.

Concerns about dust control, sanitation and water led the tribe's general council to vote last weekend to shut down the park, effective immediately, said Robert Salgado, the tribal chairman.

But the track remained open Tuesday, with riders on the course and workers pouring concrete to prepare for the Motocross des Nations, the international competition scheduled Sept. 27-29.

Competition Park has a valid lease to operate the motocross venue on reservation land allotted to tribe member Ernie Salgado, said Jim Facciuto, one of the owners of the company that operates the park.

Tribal Chairman Robert Salgado said part of the track spills over onto land controlled by the tribe.

"They never had permission to use the tribal part," he said.

Facciuto said Competition Park is entirely on Ernie Salgado's land, adding that the controversy appears to be between brothers Ernie and Robert Salgado.

"We had this surveyed and staked out and everything before we signed the contract," he said.

Ernie Salgado did not return phone calls Tuesday. Robert Salgado said duty requires him to carry out the wishes of the general council.

International event

The dispute clouds the prospects of one of the most prestigious events in motocross racing. This year, teams from 27 nations on six continents have entered the Motocross des Nations.

It's a big event for the sport's dedicated fans, said Eric Johnson, editor of the motocross magazine Racer X Illustrated.

"The race coming here in America will draw people from Europe and around the world," he said.

He said a cancellation would reverberate throughout the motocross world.

"We're only three weeks out now," he said. "There's people and race teams and trucks and tools and motorcycles coming from around the world. Logistically it could be just a debacle."

Johnson said the choice of an unfinished track in an unfamiliar location had raised questions.

He said the local promoter, Malcolm McCassy, is doing a good job, but added that the Switzerland-based sanctioning body for motorcycle racing passed over established American tracks to award the world championship race to the unfinished Competition Park.

"Other promoters did want the race desperately," he said. "If this race would have been held at Glen Helen International Raceway I honestly believe there would have been 40,000 or 50,000 people." That raceway is in Devore.

Local riders

When not preparing for international competitions, Competition Park is a popular recreational outlet for local riders.

Chad Jensen of Rialto rode there Tuesday with his 14-year-old son, Blake.

Jensen, who said he rides motocross once a week, said Competition Park has courses with different ability levels.

"There's something for everybody," he said.

Competition Park had a precarious status in San Jacinto, where some neighbors opposed it. It operated on a year-to-year conditional-use permit that came with the risk that the City Council could refuse to renew it.


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