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Braeden's need for speed
072311 MOTOR CROSS 01
Braeden Kenan, a seven-year-old motocross racer from Stilson, soars over an obstacle on the family's private practice track. Kenan will compete in the AMA Motocross National Championship Saturday in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

STILSON — Braeden Kenan has raced in more than 200 motocross events, won his fair share of them and gotten several sponsorships. Next Saturday in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., he’ll be a part of his biggest race yet.

Kenan will compete in the 2011 Red Bull American Motorcyclist Association Amateur Motocross National Championship. Not bad, considering he won’t be able to get his driver’s license for another nine years.

Kenan, a seven-year-old Nevils Elementary School student from just outside of Brooklet, has been racing competitively since 2009 and has been training since he got his first motocross bike — complete with training wheels — when he was two.

It wasn’t long after that when his parents discovered he had some talent.

"We bought him a little racing bike and took him to a local track to play and practice," said John Kenan, Braeden’s father. "Some people there said, ‘Gosh, he’s good. You need to let him race.’ In September of 2009 we went to our first big race, and the rest was history."

"I beat him now," added Braeden, who practices daily on the track his father built next to the house.

He had to make it through two qualifying rounds to make it to the national championship, where he will compete with 41 other riders in the 4-6 age group for racers who turned seven after Jan. 1. The five-day event features 1,386 racers out of 20,000 who attempted to qualify. Ages range from four to over 50.

Kenan raced in two different classes in the area — and regional-qualifiers — two-stroke and four-stroke. Reaching speeds as high as 50 miles per hour, he placed third on the two-stroke bike and first on the four-stroke at the Southeast Regional qualifier.

He will race on the four-stroke Saturday in the national championship, which runs through Aug. 5.

The 30th Annual AMA National Championship takes place at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch. Racers come from 12 regions across the country, and the race at Loretta Lynn’s is the only event held on the track each year.

Aside from a first-place finish, Kenan hopes to win his share of hole shots. He led at the first turn four out of six chances at the regional qualifiers.

While he’s won his share of races, spending time with his family – his father, mother Kelli, two-year-old sister Anna (who recently got her first bike) and grandparents – is his favorite part of racing. The family has traveled all over the southeast to a race on all but two weekends so far in 2011.

Kenan also gets the opportunity to meet racers from all over the world.

"It’s more social than anything," said John Kenan. "When we pull up at the track and as soon as the truck stops, he’s out. There’ll be a group of about 30 or 40 of them just playing and having a good time. They go out there and race, compete and go at it, then come off the track and go push trucks around the dirt together."

"That’s my favorite part," added Kelli Kenan. "At one of the regionals, after the races, there were probably 100 kids ages four to 20 out there in the middle of the track with their R/C cars, and they’re just having fun."

 

Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.