Motocross gets fair crowd revved up
The dirt has been piled, the bikes have been lubed, and now only the National Anthem stands between a dozen motocross riders and a engine-roaring thrill ride.
It is Sunday night at the Lawrence County Fair, and the Wolf Creek Raceway has brought all the excitement of dirt-bike motocross to the fairgrounds.
The audience knows they will be treated to a high-octane show, full of all the proverbial thrills and spills.
What's more difficult to figure out is what the racers will be getting out of the night.
Aaron Heck, 20, one of hundreds of racers who would soon be vying for the top slot at the race is lucky when it comes to injuries - he has never been hurt badly.
"Yeah, nothing major," Heck said with a small smile. "Just a couple of broken bones."
Heck continues to ride though, a little less than he'd like to thanks to work. For him, motocross is all about the adrenaline rush.
Chase Sifford, 14, of Chesapeake has been racing for about three years. Though his friend Eric Reilly, also of Chesapeake, is three years his junior, Reilly has actually been racing for a year longer.
An 11-year-old often may not have much in common with a 14-year-old, three years can be like a lifetime in the pre-teen years, but the two are joined by a deeper bond -the ability to look danger in the eye weekend after weekend and come out smiling.
"It's how it feels when you cross the finish line without crashing," Sifford said with a laugh. "Winning helps it out, too."
Sifford and Reilly have the same attitude as Heck in terms of injuries, though not as many broken bones between them. The elder of the two has gotten off easier.
"I screwed up my shoulder last year at Old Timers' Days, but other than that I haven't been hurt," Sifford said.
Reilly, however, hasn't had the luck of his older friend.
"I broke my arm at Wolf Creek (Motocross)," Reilly said. "It took about eight or nine weeks to heal."
Not one to be deterred, Reilly somehow found a way to still ride his bike with a cast.
So what could make otherwise healthy and sane boys put their limbs on the line for motocross?
At this level, the boys are not competing for fabulous prizes, no cash awards are handed out after the race is over.
For example, on this balmy Sunday evening, Sifford will be racing for a trophy. And Reilly?
"A pat on the back from my dad," Reilly said.
Seeing the smile on the little racer's face as he talks about receiving the admiration, people might think that maybe these boys aren't so crazy after all.
The anthem is coming to a close, and as the teens rev their bikes with grim determination behind their visors, the final line seems all the more appropriate.
"Šand the home of the brave."