Local teen competes in national motocross race

By Kitsey Burns Harrison - kburns@yadkinripple.com
Eli Pendergrass, 14, of Yadkinville, competes in a national motorcross race on the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee. - Submitted photos
Eli Pendergrass and his father Neal at a national motocross race in Tennessee. - Submitted photos

Last month, Yadkinville teen Eli Pendergrass competed at the 37th annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motorcross Championship. The event was held July 30 through Aug. 4 at the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

Despite facing challenges during the event, Pendergrass said it was a good experience.

“Making it to Lorettas has been a goal of mine for the past few years,” Pendergrass said. “I wish I could have had better luck, but I had trouble with my starts and spent my motos chasing the pack. This is a tough sport, and I’m happy to say I made it there.”

Pendergrass, who is a freshman at Forbush High School, has been riding dirt bikes since he was 6-years old.

“I’m not really into ball sports, but I am really competitive. Dad got me into racing early on and I’ve never looked back. I like the speed, I’ve always preferred more extreme sports,” he said.

Pendergrass was joined at the race by his family, including his mother Cindy, who said she enjoyed the beautiful weather and beautiful scenery.

Though Pendergrass did face some challenges, including a wreck with another racer where his dirt bike flipped end over end, he still managed to salvage a 27th-place finish during the second race of the event.

In the third race of the event, Pendergrass went into the first turn in the top five but was bumped off the track in turn two. He managed to come back to place 17th in the 125C class.

“Although his finishes don’t show it, Eli was running lap times with the top riders in his class,” said Cindy Pendergrass. “He rode hard and strong, and we consider it an honor and privilege to have been there. We are very proud of him for this accomplishment and having the strength and desire to overcome the obstacles presented in his starts.”

Pendergrass is recovering from a fractured shoulder blade, but he is far from finished with dirt bike racing. He plans to compete in the 2018 AMA Southeast 2-Stroke Pro-Am Championship at Club MX in Chesterfield South Carolina this month and possibly the Thor Mini Olympics (Mini O’s) at the Gatorback Cycle Park in Alachua. Florida in November.

Cindy Pendergrass said they wanted to say thank you to all their family, friends and neighbors who have supported them.

“This is a family sport, something that gives kids that aren’t into ball or school sports an outlet, a hobby,” she said. “Check out your local MX track, East Bend MX has just started their fall series which runs most Saturday nights into November. MX421 has started having races too. Check these tracks out and see the future of motocross right here in Yadkin County. You might just fall in love with something new.”

Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-518-3049 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.

Eli Pendergrass, 14, of Yadkinville, competes in a national motorcross race on the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_38600136_2362235047127469_5284777281418428416_o-1-_formatted.jpgEli Pendergrass, 14, of Yadkinville, competes in a national motorcross race on the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee. Submitted photos

Eli Pendergrass and his father Neal at a national motocross race in Tennessee.
https://www.yadkinripple.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_39868547_2389691651048475_5873299263961694208_o_formatted.jpgEli Pendergrass and his father Neal at a national motocross race in Tennessee. Submitted photos

By Kitsey Burns Harrison

kburns@yadkinripple.com