Local Racer Earns Spot at Motocross National Championship from Loretta Lynn's Ranch
Laceyville's Shay Tewksbury just made his dream come true. The 30-year-old dirt bike racer has qualified for the largest amateur motocross race in the world, the 31st Annual Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Shay took on over 20,000 hopefuls from across America to earn one of just 1,386 qualifying positions.
"The Amateur Nationals at Loretta Lynn's is the event every motocross racer in the country wants to compete in," said Event Director Tim Cotter. "A win at the Amateur Nationals gives a rider instant national notoriety and can serve as a springboard to a lucrative professional motocross career."
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 as well as a fashion and talent show.
Most of America's top professional motocrossers, including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath, have won AMA Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn's. The race is so prestigious that in 2009, teenage stars Dean Wilson, from California, and Eli Tomac, from Colorado, were awarded premier professional contracts for the 2010 season.
With the help of sponsors such as his mom and dad, Bruce and Patti Tewksbury, his aunts and uncles, Wade and Carol Gray, Ben and Rena Tewksbury, Ralph "Damon" Tewksbury, his grandfather, Ruby Warner, Binghamton Honda, Dave and Jen Brown of RG Brown Refuse, Josh and Michelle Hanley and Ty Space of Forever Young Clothing, who help pay his way to the races or contribute in some way, Shay has had the opportunity to pursue this life long dream. He has won several races in the last 12 plus years and competes or practices nearly every weekend at Miles Mountain Race Track in Elkland, Pa., Hurricane Hill Race Track in Clifford Pa., Broome Tioga Raceway in Binghamton, N.Y. and Jackson's Track in Owego, N.Y.
Shay will make the long journey to Tennessee along with his mom, dad, with some of his family, including aunts, uncles and cousins and some of his faithful friends joining them during the week. The race runs July 29 to Aug. 4.
Shay is just one of the over 20,000 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 at Loretta Lynn's. 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 50. There are also classes for women and classes for both stock and modified bikes.
Shay will be competing on his Honda 450 in the 30 plus age category. He earned this spot by qualifying at the Area Qualifier in Englishtown, N.J. after failing to compete in North Carolina after a start line crash, which left him with injuries that did not allow him to continue to compete. His faithful companion and helper, his dad, Bruce, joined him in this quest, as well as his Uncle Ralph (Damon) Tewksbury of North Carolina.
He and his father then travelled to Englishtown, N.J. to compete for a qualifying spot and there he was able to capture his spot in the Regional Qualifier.
Shay, along with his mother and father, and Josh and Michelle Hanley, travelled to Steel City Raceway in Delmont, Pa., (just east of Pittsburgh) for a 3-race qualifying event at the Regional Level at the beginning on June 1, 2, and 3. He was able to capture a hole shot start (which means he was the first one off the line to the first corner) to take the lead and finish first in all 3 races. This earned him is spot at the coveted National Amateur Race in Tennessee, later this summer.
While in Delmont, Shay and his group were joined by his Uncle Ralph (Damon) Tewksbury, of North Carolina, a faithful supporter of Shay in his quest for the Nationals, his uncle and aunt, Wade and Carol Gray of Laceyville and their friend, Cole, who surprised Shay by showing up at the track on Saturday to cheer him on, and his faithful friends and fans, Vincent Latini, Tiffany Belcher, Jake Latini and Betheny Taylor who also surprised Shay when they showed up on Sunday.
Shay began his racing career at the tender age of 2Â½ years old when he would compete on a 4-wheeler that he shared with his sister, Morgin. They would take turns racing at tracks in Millville, Pa., Wellsburg, N.Y., and Monroeton Pa. It was here that his love turned to motorcycles â¦ a passion that he shares with his father, Bruce, who raced competitively for years at tracks in Pennsylvania and New York. Bruce raced flat track and motocross but his passion also returned to motocross in the latter years.
Shay has racing in his blood as his father not only raced motorcycles, but also raced snowmobiles and quads for years. Shay's mother, who admits that she was even drag racing snowmobiles across the ice when she was 7 months pregnant with Shay, has also raced quads in the past.
Shay raced for many years at local tracks and got his share of bumps, bruises and several broken bones, which is commonplace in the racing world. The most serious was at the age of 16 when he failed to complete a jump at a track his father had built for him in front of their home on Spring Hill. Shay broke his femur and required an operation where a rod and screws were put in his leg and put him in the ICU for 24 hours because of the amount of blood that he lost.
It was at this point that his mother, Patti, had had enough. She sold his motorcycle, trailer and all equipment and put the racing to an end for Shay. A few years later, with the passion of motocross still racing in his blood and his eye on making it to the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals one day, he bought another bike after graduating high school and once again began competing.
His attempt last year to qualify was not to become true. So he made a promise to himself and his parents that he would begin training and practicing so that he could make, not only his dream come true, but a dream that his parents and his family and friends would share with him.
Shay and his family would like to thank everyone that has supported him with all your phone calls, Facebook comments and in person congratulations. The support, either by helping financially, loaning trucks and campers, coming to a race or practice, and by keeping up with live feeds during his race qualifications, has been greatly appreciated and Shay could not have gotten where he is going the end of this month without each and every one of you!