Nate Jackson is only 7 years old, and he hasn’t quite mastered his pedal bike yet.
Once he hops on top of his dirt bike, though, he can ride for days.
Jackson, of Armagh, will begin competing this afternoon at the 2013 American Motorcyclist Association Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
He punched his ticket to nationals with a win in the area qualifier at Pleasure Valley Raceway in Cramer and a fifth-place finish at the regional championship in New Berlin, N.Y., on June 1 and 2.
“He’s all about it,” said Gary Jackson, Nate’s father. “It’s so much fun for me to watch him do what he loves. He’s racing against the best in the country this week, and he can’t wait.”
The three-race event runs through Friday, with one race each afternoon. Jackson will compete in the 51cc Special Limited class, which consists of 30 riders ages 4 through 7. Participants will receive points depending on their place in each race, and all points will be totaled at the end of the week to determine a winner.
“It’s just awesome that we’re here,” Gary Jackson said. “All he wants to do is ride, and this is where all great riders get their start. This is the big time at amateur nationals.”
Jackson rode a dirt bike for the first time in April 2012. He started amateur racing last fall, when he won his first race and finished second overall in the PAMX State Championship Series.
“I wanted to buy him a dirt bike for fun, and he drove around on it constantly and loved it,” Gary Jackson said. “It’s funny, but he actually learned to ride his dirt bike before his pedal bike. He caught on to it real quick and has kept on going since then.”
Gary and Lacey Jackson have traveled all over the country to watch their son compete, and Nate is in a race almost every weekend. He has been to events in Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia along with Pennsylvania, New York and now Tennessee. During the winter months, he practices at indoor tracks in western Pennsylvania and even quit wrestling this year to focus on motocross.
Jackson received some financial support locally and also got help from a few companies in Pittsburgh in exchange for advertising on his KTM 50cc bike. He had a few trainers help him in the past year, but he has learned a lot through practice.
“It is a lot of work for a 7-year-old, and it does take a lot of practice,” Gary Jackson said. “To be honest, he’s like every kid and is up and down with it. But I’ve asked him, and he never wants to quit. He loves it. He enjoys working at it, and at the end of the day, it’s all him out there on that track.”