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Rev Up: The Mini O's

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Hello everyone and welcome to the Rev Up. I'm not sure why the days go by faster as we age, but when I looked over at my calendar this morning and saw that next week is Thanksgiving, it really bit me. I mean, I can close my eyes and go back to this date in 2008 like it was 10 minutes ago. 2009 is a vapor trail, folks! I do not like time moving as fast as it is for me now. On the other hand, I didn't like sitting in my classroom watching the clock tick towards 3:00 p.m. On this week in 1987 I was 10 years old and I remember staring at my teacher and wondering what she may have been talking about. I held my eyes on her so I wouldn't get in trouble, but the only thing on my mind was my family’s motor home and trailer that was loaded with a half-dozen dirt bikes. It was our first trip to the state of Florida and I would be looking at the ocean for the first time after a two-day drive. More importantly, my brothers and I would be racing in the "Mini O's" for the first time. 

"Why won't that clock tick a little faster...?"

Right now thousands of the fastest amateur motocross racers in the world are sitting in their classrooms thinking similar thoughts. Next week marks the 38th Annual Thor Winter National Olympics. It’s an amateur motocross tradition and one of the biggest races in the world. Motocross is the greatest family sport for many reasons, but spending Thanksgiving together at the races is awesome. 

This race has changed over the years. It used to be TT, SX, Motocross and then a grueling Grand Prix event, but now it is only supercross and motocross. That said, the racers will still be vying for the coveted Fox Bronze Boot. There is also the Pro Circuit Platinum Pipe, Scott Golden Goggles, Dunlop Silver Tire and CTI Iron Man awards. But, the Bronze Boot award always stuck out to me. I remember standing along the fence line watching Damon Bradshaw for the first time. His skull and cross bones helmet and #68 number plates were the most ominous icons in amateur motocross. I remember a kid watching next to me saying, "That's the Beast of the East. He's gonna win that Bronze Boot again this year." That week I learned names like Bobby Jay Mann, Colin Edwards, Ezra Lusk, Tony Haynes and Brian Swink. 

The race is also very cool because, while it takes place at the end of the year, most of the kids have next year’s bikes and riding gear. I remember it was always the biggest intimidator to line up next to a rider who had the new bike. Even if it was only "Bold new graphics,” the new bike was somehow faster and better. The event is also unique in that it has a bunch of off the track activities. The old Gear Racewear volleyball tournament and Scott Goggle tug of war were always my favorites. We used to even have a gong show where we would sing and dance like fools. It was such a cool scene to see all of the motocross riders just playing and being "normal" kids after the motos were done. 

But, the coolest thing is the Thanksgiving feast. All of the families bring a covered dish to add to the enormous buffet tables. Back in the day we would wear our coolest clothes and comb our hair then line up to stack our plates. Bevo Forti would always be at the end of the buffet line waiting for you with a big slice of Turkey. Then all of the families sit down together and celebrate Thanksgiving.

Just sitting here writing these words today gave me such a warm feeling about our sport and how lucky I was to grow up with my motocross racing family. I'll never forget that first trip to the Mini O's. We stopped by Daytona Beach a couple of days before and dipped our feet into the salty ocean water. For Kansas folks that was pretty amazing. Motocross can reward a kid with everything he needs to grow up right. You learn to socialize with kids from different parts of the country and different countries altogether. We met Ernesto Fonseca at the Mini O's. He was so cool, and I liked talking to him with his Costa Rican accent. There were Mexican racers, African-American racers, female racers, and just about every type of kid in the world. We even met a chubby, freckle-faced kid named Ricky Carmichael. He sure did crash a lot...

Those times were before message boards, personal trainers, and agents. It was a different scene than what we'll see next week. Times have changed and the sport has grown and evolved, but I think the soul is still very much intact. 

It almost brings down a happy tear when I think about all of the kids sitting in their classrooms right now watching that clock. 

Thanks for reading, see you next week.
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