Motocross Racing: Flying High on 2 Wheels - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Motocross Racing: Flying High on 2 Wheels


NEAR KELLOGG, Minn. (KTTC) -- If you've never been introduced to the sport of motocross, hang on tight. We're going to take you behind the scenes of this action packed ride, as we cruise dirt tracks built for racing. So what is it that draws people into this family sport, full of clean fun and competition?

For these full-throttle, high-flying adrenaline junkies, it's just another day at the race track.

"I love riding my dirt bike and I love the competition," exclaimed Ben Graves, a racer from Dover.

 Graves was cruising on two wheels, by the age of 6.

"My dad use to ride back in the 70's. He got myself and my brother into it just for fun to begin with. One day he took us to a race and we were hooked from there," recalled Graves.

Now, 26 years later, Graves is often leading the pack.

"I'm not the best guy at getting over the gate, but I'm a lot of times the first guy to the first turn," stated Ben Graves.

On race day, racers from across the region gather at the starting line including teen, Conner Cunningham. A camera mounted atop his helmet, gives you an idea of what it's like to race motocross. Riders say there are different obstacles, which make up most motocross tracks.

"Some tracks have doubles and triples, where you got two jumps and you jump both of them or you got three jumps and you jump all three at once," said Graves.

"It's a whoop section. The nickname of it is the "dirty dozen" cause it's so difficult to get through. It's 12 reasonably sized bumps that you need to kind of blitz through to get faster through that," said Lee Theis, Midway Motocross Track's Owner.

The aggressive sport can be physically demanding, but it knows no age limit. Lee Theis, said racers from 4 years old, all the way to 60-some - hit the track.

"We have guys that will get into it when they're in their 40's, saw it on TV, or some buddies did it and they want to try it," exclaimed Theis.

Brad Cunningham, Conner's dad, grew up riding dirt bikes, but he didn't take up the sport until later in life.

"When I was approximately 37'ish I had some friends from work that were racing motocross and I bought one of their used bikes, that was in 2004 and I've been going strong ever since," said Brad.

It didn't take long for Brad to buy Conner his first bike, but the family affair wouldn't stop there.

"My brother and dad have been doing it for so long and I just thought it was cool and I decided I wanted to do it, so my dad bought me a bike for Christmas," said Kari Cunningham.

This tough chick, is Kari Cunningham. It was just 2 weeks ago she competed in her first race ever, even placed second in her class.

From novice to expert, this individual sport offers athletes a chance for personal growth as well.

"You think inside your own head a lot. You're doing a lot of calculations and a lot of figuring, so it's really fun. It's very individual," said Ron Heppner, a racer from Hastings.

Heppner has seen a lot of changes in the sport during his 38-year career. Needless to say, he has also had his fair share of doctor's visits.

"Starting from the top down. Concussions, skull never broke. A broken jaw and teeth, collarbones, thumbs, toes and a cracked foot," explained Heppner.

To help prevent serious injury, head to toe gear is available for all ages. Now that you're hooked: how much is it going to cost you?

"You can get going for $1,000 dollars on a machine, you can buy gear off craigslist or some used gear for $500 dollars or less. I'd say for $1,500 dollars you could get going in this sport," explained Theis.  

For the Cunninghams, the benefits far outweigh the cost.

"We race together, we enjoy doing it together. It's good quality family time, there's a lot of families out here," explained Brad Cunningham.

Dirt Bikes range in size and power. Typically youngsters between the ages of 4 to 8 will ride 50cc bikes... those 15 years and older, will typically ride a 125 or 250cc bike, which will get them up to about 35 to 40 miles per hour. Besides just a race track in Kellogg, Motokazie also holds other races across the region.

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