Layton teen to ride in the American National Motocross Championship this week

Tuesday , August 01, 2017 - 6:15 PM

MATILYN MORTENSEN, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON — Rene Rodriguez Jr. will put his dirt bike skills to the test this week at the world’s largest amateur motocross championship.

Rene began riding dirt bikes when he was 4. Twelve years later at age 16, the Layton racer is excited for his first opportunity to compete in the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC American Motocross Association’s Amateur National Motocross Championship, which begins Tuesday.

This is the 36th year of the race held at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Riders qualify by participating in both area and regional championship races. The top four riders from each of the United States’ eight regional races then participate at the national championship.

Rene took first at each of these races, so Hayden Roberts, his trainer, said the odds of Rene winning the national championship are good.

With Rene’s family history of racing, it would seem winning is in his blood.

“I come from a long line of racing on two wheels,” he said. “My dad was an international champion of BMX and my aunt was actually a world champion of BMX back in the day.”

It was his father’s love of racing that led Rene to ride at such a young age. He said his dad put him on a BMX bike at age 2 or 3 and once he gained more balance, his dad put him on a dirt bike.

His dad, Rene Rodriguez Sr., said while he was growing up and racing, his own father was unable to attend many of his races. Now that Rene is competing, the elder Rodriguez is excited to attend races and support his son.

“I am more than proud, more than happy to live this dream,” Rodriguez Sr. said.

Competing on Loretta Lynn’s track is a rare opportunity for racers. Not only is it difficult to qualify for the race, but the track is not open to the public throughout the year. Racers only get 15 minutes to practice on the track the day before the competition begins.

Winning would provide sponsorship opportunities and help Rene eventually ride professionally, Roberts said. It would also build his racing confidence.

“You have people from all over the world come to this race,” Roberts said, “so for him to win this race (would be) tremendous.”

Beyond talent, Roberts identified Rene’s positive attitude and high moral standards as things that set him apart from other racers.

“He knows he can go out there and he is capable of winning,” Roberts said. “His determination to always win is always there.”

His father’s philosophy for supporting his children is likely one reason for Rene’s confidence.

“If they work hard for whatever they want to do, they can achieve anything they want to,” Rodriguez Sr. said. “If it’s going to be motocross rider or dancer or soccer player or engineer or any job that they want to (do), our job as parents is basically to teach them and help them experience a lot of different things.”

Rene said now that he’s reached his goal of riding at the national championship, he’s going to continue taking steps to ride professionally — which means returning home to train so he is prepared to race at Loretta Lynn’s again next year.

The event goes until Saturday, Aug. 5. Races will be broadcast live on racertv.com, where schedules and more information can also be found. Rene will ride in both the 250 C Limited class and the 250 C Junior Limited class.

Matilyn Mortensen can be reached mmortensen@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @MatilynKay. 

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