By: Current Argus
CARLSBAD — Jake Willis enjoys the rush he gets from motocross.
And now he’s bracing for the big stage, taking part in the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship Aug. 1-6 at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch n Hurricane Mills, Tenn., which is about 80 miles west of Nashville. Willis will be one of two New Mexicans and one of 1,482 nationwide riding in the event.
Here’s the stunning part: Jake is 7 years old, and he began riding in February 2015.
“I’m really excited. For my first year, I’ve been riding really good. I never knew I could do this,” he said.
Willis said he likes to go fast trekking on the jagged dirt paths, but he’s also gotten plenty of training for when to fall back and give himself extra space. He even does the seemingly small things like pick his motor bike back up when he tips over and falls, something he initially could not do at all.
Because of all his safety training, he is fearless while riding, even in his most recent race last Saturday in Lubbock.
His strategy to win races is simple.
“You just need to get a good start and get the holeshot [being the first to turn on the first corner], then just stay on the gas the whole track,” Willis said.
Jake’s mom, Lacy Willis, said all the competitors in a race aim to be the first rider to turn the first corner because they can stay in the lead at that point.
“There’s 20 other guys that you’re having to battle with. If (Jake) gets in front, then he usually stays in front,” Willis said.
Willis also tries to keep a good pace while racing so he can stay with the rest of the pack. By doing so, he said he’s able to make good decisions as the race goes on. He also briefly distances himself from riders in front of him so he will create room to begin speeding up more and eventually get ahead of them.
“If they’re coming on a jump and they don’t really have a lot of speed, you just need the speed and you could just jump over them,” he said.
He also tries to stay in the inside lanes for better traction and to avoid getting jammed in traffic with other riders.
“When he first started, he would take the outside [lanes] and go down. But now he knows where to go that he can control his bike,” Willis said. “It’s just cool to see it all coming out on the track after he’s worked so hard to learn it.”
Willis and his family departed for Dallas on last Thursday afternoon, where he will train for the next five days under the guidance of highly regarded motocross trainer Shannon Niday. Willis said Niday will teach him how to better manage his speed riding on the straight-away paths, have quicker jumps and get better lap times.
Willis qualified for nationals about three weeks ago in Decatur, Texas, which is near the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Getting ready for the big stage, Willis is still fine-tuning some of the basics including starts, jumps and turns. Specifically on jumps, he looks to improve his acceleration and perform better in sequences jumping over two or three bumps.
AMSOIL is the presenting sponsor of the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships.