The Easons of Hinesville will be loading up the RV and heading to Loretta Lynn’s ranch next week, their second trip in two years to the Hurricane Mills, Tenn., plantation home.
And just like last year, it’s not the home or museum that draws the family to the Tennessee mountain estate. Instead, they are going for the roar of engines, dirt and thrill of the 32nd annual AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships, set for July 29-Aug. 3.
The track is built along a section of country-music singer Loretta Lynn’s ranch and contains a variety of jumps, corners and other obstacles designed to test the skills and stamina of the racers.
Last year, Becky and Chris Eason’s youngest son, Cameron, made the cut to compete in the “Super Bowl” of motocross and ended the competition ranked eighth in the nation at the age of 7. This year, older brother Keaton Eason made the list to compete which is not an easy task.
“Well, if you even make it to Loretta’s, you’re already among the top 40 in the world,” Keaton, 12, said. “Once you get there, the track is not nearly as hard as the tracks used in qualifying.”
Chris Eason agreed with his oldest son, who has been racing for four years.
“The hard part is actually getting there,” Chris Eason said. “I mean, you have to race hundreds of kids to make those qualified spots and be one of the top 40. The thing about Loretta’s … the track is easier, like my son said, but you have to battle the elements. It’s going to be 110 degrees, and it gets rough.”
He said that last year, several competitors couldn’t handle the heat, noting the competition isn’t just about who is the fastest but also about who is the fittest. That’s something Keaton isn’t taking lightly.
“I’ve been working out at the gym, running and doing pushups,” he said.
Chris Eason said his son sometimes runs in the middle of the day to become acclimated to the heat, but always is cautious and that Keaton is extremely fit.
The road to the race has taken the Eason family as far west as Louisiana and as far north as Pennsylvania Chris Eason said.
Keaton races a Suzuki RM 85 small wheel, which he said has a bigger suspension and, despite the name, has slightly bigger tires. He said he would like to turn pro one day but does have a backup plan if things don’t go his way.
“If that doesn’t happen, I guess I’ll get a job,” he said much to his father’s amusement.
Chris Eason said the competition is intense, but the family does get some down time.
“It was awesome,” he said about last year’s race. “It is a kid’s motocross dream vacation. You are in the mountains, and there is a freshwater creek that runs out there, and everybody just takes their chair and when they are not racing or riding, they hang out in the creek. It’s like a motocross Disneyland.”
The family plans to take a break in August, as both boys return to school at First Presbyterian Christian Academy.
After a brief break, the boys occasionally will go to the Big Nasty ATV Park in Bloomingdale to practice. Regional competition begins in March.
In 2010, the Hinesville brothers placed first and fourth respectively in the Georgia/Florida motocross series held in Alma the first week of December.