|Motocross gains traction with local racers|
|Written by Darci Tomky|
“If you like stuff that goes fast, this is your sport, definitely,” said Gunnar Kroeger, a junior higher with an ornery grin and a need for extreme sports.
Motocross isn’t a typical afterschool sport, but a few brave souls from Holyoke are getting in on some of the high-flying action.
Gunnar and his dad Bryan Kroeger have both gotten involved in motorcycle racing in the last few years. So has 7-year-old Kayden Porter, a little boy with a huge excitement for the sport.
The Kroegers got their first taste of motocross from Gunnar’s cousins. His older brother then got a motorcycle, followed by one for Gunnar when he was around 8 years old.
What fun would racing be without the jumps? HJHS
Bryan, who does all of the mechanic work for Gunnar, got started so he could learn more about the sport to help his son with his racing.
Remembering his first race in Sidney, Neb. at age 10, Gunnar said he got “dead last,” but “I knew right when I got off the gate I loved it!”
It’s always his goal to hit those big jumps, and this is one sport he’ll never get tired of. “When you’re on the track, it’s just you,” he said.
Bryan certainly doesn’t mind catching some big air either. “When you’re flying that bike, there’s no greater feeling,” he said.
With a need for speed, Kayden loves racing. “I try to gun it right away,” he said. “You’ve got to get the lead out of the starting gate.”
This second-grader got his first electric dirt bike when he was 2, upgrading to a real dirt bike and getting some race experience under his belt at age 4.
Kayden Porter, pictured at left, goes head to head with another racer during some motocross action in Benkelman, Neb. this summer.
His mom, Cindy Porter, said they knew it was time to get him a bike when their 3-year-old couldn’t be pulled away from motocross racing at the Benkelman, Neb. fair.
“It’s scary seeing him out there, but I’m so proud of him,” said Cindy. “I want him to follow his dreams.”
Young racers start out with small bikes and work their way up to larger, faster, heavier bikes as they get older and stronger.
Both the Kroegers and Porters encouraged others to get involved with motocross, but they emphasized the importance of safety. It is a dangerous sport, but they wear all the protective gear they can get.
Gunnar got a concussion once when he was riding near Holyoke, but otherwise these racers have only seen bumps and bruises from their crashes on the racetrack. The boys appear to be fearless, but when Bryan considers a big jump, he has to remind himself he still has to go to work the next day!
Going to racing workshops to learn about safety and motocross skills has been very beneficial, in addition to their practice time on the track.
Kayden has a little track he practices on at his house, but otherwise the closest places to practice motocross are at Wauneta, Neb., Sunol, Neb. and the Pawnee track by Sterling.
Bryan said it’d be nice to have a track closer to Holyoke, that way more racers of all ages could try it out.
The racing season from April to October is what fuels their excitement for motocross, with trophies, trophies and more trophies to show for their accomplishments.
There’s no doubt 7-year-old Kayden Porter loves the thrill of the
“If I get first place, I get ice cream. Right, mom?” explained an excited Kayden, looking to his mom for reassurance. Kayden races in his age division in the Nebraska Cornhusker Motocross Association, which has events in Nebraska and Kansas.
Racing according to skill level, the Kroegers mostly compete in the Tri-State circuit in Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado. Gunnar races with the kids while Bryan is in an over-35 division.
“It’s crazy how much commitment we put into this sport,” said Gunnar. Both families try to make it to 10-15 races every year, and there are overall awards at the end of the season for each of the circuits.
“It’s a good family outing,” said Bryan. “It’s important to spend time with your kids. What a good investment that is!”
Kayden’s parents, John and Cindy, are always there to cheer him on, and his older sister, Kassidy, gets to help wave the racing flags and serves as Kayden’s pit crew.
Gunnar said his mom, Tammy, is the one who is always cheering the loudest, even if she has to cringe and close her eyes at the start of the race. “It’s awesome having that fan support with you,” he said. “I’m so thankful for the support.”
The junior higher said he loves getting to race with his dad, since they can give each other advice and encouragement. Gunnar might show his dad how to do a big jump, while Bryan can show his son how to do the mechanic work.
Motocross racing has become a family affair for the Kroegers, with Gunnar Kroeger and dad Bryan both racing (pictured above) and mom Tammy supporting and cheering from the stands.
“Gunnar is one of my heroes,” said Bryan, noting his amazement at his son’s natural talent for the sport.
They’ve also gotten some good insider tips from Bryan’s son-in-law Nick McConahy, who is a professional motocross racer in Washington.
Neither Gunnar nor Kayden would mind if they could go pro someday, with that high-speed, high-flying racing blood running strong through their veins.
They both said it’s a super fun sport, and they hope more people will catch the motocross buzz!
Holyoke Enterprise Aug. 23, 2012