Motocross is an individual sport, but the motocross races here in Kenai are actually quite a family affair.
The Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions - Motocross Division is filled with racers who share the same last name as their competitors, and the Dobbs family is one of them.
Randy Dobbs leads the family, and as the father of four, he races in the Vet Intermediate division, as he is doing Saturday and today at the Alaska State Champion Motocross Series held at Twin Cities Raceway.
“What I like about racing, is you have to be at 100 percent for 100 percent of the time,” Dobbs said. “It’s really more a mental game than a physical game, and you have to have your mind right, and you need to be focused on what you’re doing all the time. If you make mistakes, you’ll hurt yourself, and so it’s a lot of mental preparation.
“When the gate drops, you forget everything that’s happened in the past, and go racing.”
A native of Wasilla, the family patriarch grew up with a love for the sport of riding dirt bikes. Although he did not begin competing in races until his mid-30s, he said he’s always been around bikes.
“I’ve done this most of my life, and when my kids started growing up, they got interested in it, and I eventually got my son a bike,” Dobbs said. “We also have a lot of friends who aren’t necessarily race fans, but they come out to support us and help us with stuff, and of course have a good time.”
Randy’s 15-year-old son, Austin, also races, but he will be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks due to a leg injury in a practice crash, but he said he looks forward to getting back on his bike.
“It gives me an adrenaline rush for sure, it’s one of the coolest sports I do,” Austin said. “Once you put all this money in it with this trailer and bike and stuff, winning a trophy or championship, it’s hard to stop, and in six to eight weeks, I’ll be out on the track again, going over that same jump that I got hurt on.”
The Skyview High School sophomore races in the 125cc Novice division, and credits his father for sparking his interest in dirt bikes.
“The first time I passed this guy in a race, it was really exciting,” Austin recalled. “I had been trying to beat him for a long time, and I finally passed him fair and square and beat him. I ended up winning that race.”
Randy’s wife, Jessica, pitches in by working with the racing series and officials to make sure things go smoothly.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Jessica said. “We have a great time. It’s very enjoyable, and it’s nice to see these guys excel every year, they get better and better, and it’s just plain fun.”
Jessica’s numerous job responsibilities often keep her away from being able to watch her family run, but she takes the time to watch when they travel to Anchorage and Fairbanks to run the state races.
“I try to keep track of them, but sometimes here in Soldotna it can be difficult,” she said.
Jessica grew up in Anchorage, but said that now that she lives in Kasilof, it is easier to get into the sport of motocross.
Erin Dobbs, 12, currently is a seventh-grader at Soldotna Middle School, and although she does not race, she has fun selling shirts and other items to help support the hobby.
Addy, 5, is learning to race, according to Randy, and may one day be out on the dirt racing with the best of them.
“She’s gotten a smaller bike before and taken some practice runs, so she is just enjoying that for now,” Randy said.
Elissia Dobbs, a 17-year-old senior at Skyview, does not race, but like her sister Erin, helps out otherwise, often working the front gates, taking fees and tickets, and has also worked as the “card-drop girl,” the person that starts the races.
“I like watching my dad race, and it’s awesome seeing him win too, when he’s at the front, it’s like, ‘Yea, cool!’” Elissia said. “It’s fun watching him and Austin go off jumps and stuff.
“It’s nice my family got into something really cool, because this is pretty amusing and awesome.”
Even though she enjoys watching the races, Elissia also mentioned it worries her when a family member or friend gets hurt.
“I never want to see anybody going to the hospital,” she said. “I’ve had a few friends who have gone to the hospital, but it’s never been anything too serious.”
As far as racing herself, Elissia said she has tried it before, but decided against it.
“I kind of thought about it, I tried working on it last year, but I’m too chicken to do it,” she said. “I don’t want to break any bones doing it, but I like making the money more instead of spending it, because it’s expensive doing this.”