MILLEDGEVILLE — Hayden Lavender’s passion and thrill for riding through hills, jumps and turns on a dirt track began at age 4. He has since continued to perfect his riding techniques to qualify for a spot in the largest amateur motocross race in the world now at the age of 7.
“Hayden fell in behind his brother Hunter, who also races, who is soon to be 12 years old. At first we thought he would take right to it, but Hayden didn’t really take to racing in the beginning,” said Shawn Lavender, Hayden’s father. “We took Hunter to a race in Alabama and while we were there, Hayden all of a sudden said he wanted to race and he’s been going at it ever since.”
Hayden’s family and friends began the journey to Hurricane Mills, Tenn. Thursday to support Hayden in the 32nd annual Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, which is slated to start Monday and run through Saturday of next week. Hayden, a John Milledge Academy student, competed against more than 20,000 hopefuls from across the country to earn one of just 1,446 qualifying positions riding his 2013 blue Yamaha PW50.
“We went to Arkansas for one regional qualifier and the regional for that particular area was in Mississippi, but we didn’t get in there. We qualified for the southeast region, which earned him a spot in the nationals. This is the race that everybody wants to go to,” Shawn said. “We’ve been training in Culloden, Ga. at MotoXcompound with trainer Matt Walker a few days a week.”
The course at the national race is built on a section of country music star Loretta Lynn’s ranch and compound, containing a variety of jumps, corners and other obstacles designed to test the skills and stamina of the racers.