When it’s state motocross in Kenai, age restrictions go up in dust.
At least they did when athletes ranging from 4 to 59 years old competed in the Alaska State Champion Motocross Series at Twin Cities Raceway on Saturday. Racing will continue today.
The competition drew 196 participants and was hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions - Motocross Division. Results will be printed as they become available.
“Anyone can do it — young boys, old women, old men — anyone,” said Rebecca Spurgeon, whose 10-year-old son Austin wore No. 158 and rode a Cobra 65 in the 65cc races.
Competitors from Bethel, Fairbanks and across the central Kenai Peninsula turned out for the third state event in the series of 10.
This one took on a family feel — with the Day 2 landing on Father’s Day — as groups lounged in lawn chairs, hovered over barbecues and cheered on their favorite athletes.
During lulls in the action, drivers young and old shared their reasons for participating.
“It’s fun,” Austin Spurgeon said, grinning, “and I like to scare my parents.”
For the Spurgeons, motocross events are for the entire family.
Rebecca Spurgeon showed with 15 family members Saturday, including Aaron Johnson, whose 8-year-old son, Alex Johnson, is the nephew of Rebecca Spurgeon. He raced in the 50cc classification.
“There’s something for everyone,” Aaron Johnson said. “It’s just a lot of fun — and it gets (Alex) off the couch.
“It’s not about the competition, it’s about having fun.”
On a dusty afternoon when event organizers hosed down the course during an hour-long break to keep it firm, others had a different take.
Sarah Herrin, a 2006 Nikiski High School grad, came to win.
Herrin, 23, played basketball for two seasons at the University of Alaska Fairbanks before transferring to the University of Alaska Anchorage.
She has been competing in motocross since the age of 9, growing up in a machine-loving family.
“If it had a motor, we had it,” Herrin said.
In a traditionally male-dominated sport, Herrin has found success against competitors of all types.
She is a nine-time state motocross champion in women’s competition, and on Saturday competed in both men’s and women’s heats.
Although Herrin crashed in the 125 men’s expert when she lost control of her Kawasaki KXF 250 after the back wheel hit a rock on a hot corner, she took gold in the first women’s 125 race.
“It’s fun to give the boys a run for their money,” she said.
Herrin eventually hopes to compete outside Alaska and receive additional exposure in a sport that is beginning to gain notoriety among women. Early in her racing days, there were no female-only classifications. Now there are.
“There was pretty much nothing when I first started, but it’s beginning to catch on more,” Herrin said.
Barney Phillips, 51, also competed and understands perhaps more than most how the sport has evolved.
The vice president of KPRL, Phillips has been racing motocross for about 35 years. He is among the elders in the sport — one his friends is 59 and competes regularly — yet he keeps coming back.
“I can’t complain,” he said, laughing, “because I’m not the oldest one.”