Edwardsburg youth makes national race
Published 8:51 am Monday, August 16, 2004
EDWARDSBURG - Dillon Finley just made his dream come true.
The nine-year-old dirt bike racer has qualified for the largest amateur motocross race in the world, the 23rd annual AMA/Air Nautiques Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Tennessee.
Dillon took on over 17,000 hopefuls from across America to earn one of just 1,400 qualifying positions.
Most of America's top professional motocrossers, including Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and James Stewart, have won AMA Amateur National Championships. A victory at this race is so valuable that two teenagers, Georgia's David Millsaps and Pennsylvania's Broc Hepler, were rewarded with six-figure pro contracts after winning Amateur National Championships last year.
Dillon Finley, who attends Edwardsburg Elementary School, has been riding since he was four years old. Sponsors such as Midwest Timber, Pine Lake Farms, Moose Racing, 50ccparts.com, Alpinestar, and Smith Goggles help pay his way to the races.
He has won over 50 races in the last few years, and competes nearly every weekend at Red Bud in Buchanan, Dutch Sport Park, and Log Road MX, in the 50cc 7-8 year-old class.
Dillon's parents, Doug and Kim Finley, packed up the family motorhome and headed to Tennessee for the race, which was run Aug. 2-7.
Dillon is just one of the 17,000 who spent the last four months qualifying for the event. The top finishers in area and regional qualifiers earn a birth into the national championship race. Racers may enter a wide variety of classes, from minicycle classes for children as young as four, all the way up to a Senior division for riders over 40. There are also classes for women, and classes for both stock and modified vehicles.
The track is built on a section of Loretta Lynn's Ranch and Campground in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.. The course contains a variety of jumps, corners and other obstacles designed to test the skills and stamina of the racers.
Most riders attend the event with the help of their families. In fact, many groups consider the event their family's summer vacation. Besides races, the ranch provides family-friendly facilities including a game room, swimming pools, arts and crafts activities, and a fashion and talent show.