Yadkinville resident, Eli Pendergrass, just made his dream come true. The 14-year-old dirt bike racer has qualified for the largest amateur motocross race in the world, the 37th annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, presented by Lucas Oil, to be held this August at the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch. Pendergrass took on more than 22,000 hopefuls from across America to earn one of just 1,446 qualifying positions.
“The Amateur National at Loretta Lynn’s is the best of the best motocrossers in America and around the world,” said Tim Cotter, director of MX Sports. “Just being here makes you an elite racer and a top athlete. A solid finish at Loretta’s would you give you instant National recognition and a possible professional career.”
Most of America’s top professional motocross racers, including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Ryan Dungey, have won AMA Amateur National titles at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
Pendergrass, who will be 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,” Pendergrass said.
With the help of sponsors such as Victory Motorsports, FTI Racing, FMF, Cor Moto Graphics, DT-1 Filters, Gaerne Boot Co., Leatt, O’neal, who help pay his way to the races, Pendergrass has had the opportunity to pursue his dreams. He has won many races in the last nine years and competes nearly every weekend in races locally and across the east coast.
“I just got back from two weeks training with ‘The Jammer’ Jimmy Weinert in Maysville, NC,” Pendergrass said. “I’m in the best shape of my life. Chad Atkins with Victory Motorsports in Mocksville has my motor running great. This is the first year I’ve really made it, so I’m excited, looking for good starts, fast turns and the checked flag.”
Pendergrass will make the long journey to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, along with his family. The race runs July 30 through Aug. 4. Pendergrass and his family will be camping onsite for the week-long event, and will participate in many non-racing evening activities.
Pendergrass is just one of the over 22,000 racers across the country who spent the last four months qualifying for the event. The top finishers in Area Qualifiers and Regional Championships earn a gate position in the National Championship race at Loretta Lynn.
Racers may enter a wide variety of classes, from minicycle classes for children as young as 4-years old, all the way up to a senior division for riders older than 50. There are also classes for women and classes for both stock and modified machines. In total, there are 35 different classes of competition. Pendergrass will compete in the highly competitive 125C class.
The track is built on a section of Loretta Lynn Ranch and Campground in Hurricane Mills. The course contains a variety of jumps, corners and other obstacles designed to test the skills and stamina of the racers. The motocross track is used only once a year for motorcycles, so there is no hometown advantage. Racers compete in three 15- to 20-minute races over the course of the week per class, sometimes in grueling temperatures. Proper training and preparation are paramount.
Most riders attend the event with the help of their families. In fact, many consider the event their family’s summer trip, nicknaming it the “World’s Greatest Motocross Vacation.” Besides the races, the week-long event hosts many family-friendly activities, including swimming, talent show, concerts and live entertainment.
The race action will be broadcast live daily at www.RacerTV.com, July 30 through Aug. 4, for a total of 40 hours of live coverage. In addition, two highlight shows featuring the event will air on NBC Sports Network in the fall.
For additional information on the Amateur National, visit the official website at www.mxsports.com or call 304-284-0101. Also, follow the official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for exclusive content and to catch the latest news.
For updates from Pendergrass, find him on Facebook and Instagram at PX2 Racing.