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Motocross trio qualifies for nationals

Three Dallas County motocross racers will be taking their skills to a higher level in the next few months after qualifying for national competition.

Charles Weber III and Brooke Ross will be riding in the National Motocross Association’s Ponca City (Okla.) Grand National Championship, while Tripp Johnson has qualified for the American Motocross Association Amateur National Motocross Championships in eastern Tennessee.

Motocross is a motorcycle race that is held in an enclosed off road course. Competition is broken down into classes according to engine sizes.

All three Dallas County riders compete in the 250cc-and-above class.

Weber, 17, and Ross, 18, are racing opposites going into the Ponca City competition on July 27-Aug. 1. Weber is the scarred veteran, while Ross is the rookie.

“He injured his right leg in October of last year,” said Weber’s mother, Vicki. “In 2007, he tore his ACL, and he broke his right arm earlier this year. He’s been riding about three years.”

Ross, who will be a football redshirt at Mississippi State next year, hasn’t had much experience.

“I’ve been racing just two months,” said Ross, who plans to study wildlife management. “I’ve been taking more chances because I haven’t had any injuries yet.”

Johnson, a Class C rider, will be going to Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch 65 miles east of Nashville for the AMA national competition.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Johnson said. “The ranch up there is almost like a resort, with cabins, horse trails, all kinds of activities. You could live up there if you wanted to.”

All three racers have traveled to weekend races all over the Southeast to qualify for the nationals. The racing demanded a lot of dedication, time and money.

“For the past two weekends, we’ve spent $500 for fees, gas and to get to the race,” Vicki Weber said. “The suit he’s wearing is more than $250, and sometimes he’ll have to replace his helmet.”

So sponsorships can go a long way to help with expenses. Johnson has Amzoil as sponsor; Ross has R&R Erectors; and Weber’s sponsors include Alabama Power Sports, Screenco and CMC of Prattville.

Is the time and money worth it? Vicki Weber thinks so.

“People will ask me why I would let my child get involved in motocross,” she said. “Well, they’re not on drugs and there are a lot worse things. Football is just as dangerous. Motocross is more regulated and more controlled than most sports.

“At the races, I’ve seen kids that are more respectable,” she said. “And the kids are really into it. David played baseball until 2006, and the parents are a lot different.”