By ANDREA VARGO
"I'm second in the state right now in the 7-11 class, and my goal is to be first by the end of the year," said Travis Laney, Howard Lake.
He is very serious about this and intends to do all he can to make it happen.
Travis can compete in the Pee Wee 60 cc and Mini 80 cc classes this year. He is sponsored by Butch Donahue, Delano Sports.
"I was riding when I was six. My dad brought a Honda 50 home for me to play with. When I was nine, we went to the Supercross in Minneapolis, and I wanted to do it," said Travis.
He wears lots of protective clothing, including steel toe boots with metal shin guards. His pants won't rip and have detachable hip pads.
He wears all his protective gear even when he practices, said Connie Laney, Travis' mom.
"I started on the hill in front of the house, and then Dad built a practice area next to the house," he said.
Connie said they are careful not to practice when the neighbors are home, because of the noise. They try to be good neighbors.
She said the kids in the sport are quiet, well-mannered kids for the most part, and it is a good family atmosphere.
Travis said, "The older riders sort of tease us, and we give it back. But they help us with our technique."
He has never been seriously hurt, said his mom, but there is quite a list of minor incidents.
Once, his leg was run over by another bike, and he flew over the front of the handlebars at another time.
The scariest thing that happened was when he came off a jump and at the bottom of the hill lay a bike and rider. He landed on the bike, but wasn't hurt.
Travis races in state competition and a series called Tuff-Stuff. He said he goes to whatever race will give him the best points if he places.
"I do better on hard, packed tracks," said Travis, "probably because my practice track is hard-packed."
Travis raced in Millville, Minn. last year in front of 12,000 people, where he took a fourth place out of about 40 racers.
They ran two races and averaged the times from both to get the final placings.
In Travis' first race, he completed the race in seventh place on a flat tire.
The second race found him in second place, and the average placed him fourth overall.
All this successful effort on the track required a lot of practice, said his mom.
He was even allowed to attend a special motocross school last year, where he learned riding techniques and how to eat properly to maintain energy for competition.
Connie said the practice has to be scheduled around Travis' school work.
He had a high B+ average this year, and he needs to maintain good grades if he wants to race, she said.
She comes off the motocross track dusty and dirty, but she is all smiles.
It doesn't matter where she places in the race. Angie Rathkamp wants to know, "How many boys did I beat?"
She is seven years old and is in her first year of motocross racing.
Last year her dad, Jeff Rathkamp, Lester Prairie, bought her a Yamaha, shaft drive, PW 50 cc motocross bike, she said.
Her uncle, Bob Rathkamp, manufactures clothing in California for motocross riders, and he influenced the decision to buy the bike, said her mom, Peg Rathkamp.
When Angie learned how to ride, her dad felt she had a natural talent for it, so this year he is allowing her to race.
Peg said, "With a relative being into racing clothing and gear, it was easy to get her outfitted for racing."
Angie has competed in six races so far this year, and she is 12th in the state out of about 40 kids racing in the 4-6 age bracket, according to Peg.
Angie can stay in this class because her birthday was after Jan. 1.
Peg also said Angie is that good already because she practices a lot.
The garden at home was the first practice area and that was fine for quite awhile, said Peg.
But then Angie was ready for more challenging terrain, and a practice track was built at Grandma Ione Rathkamp's in Howard Lake.
Angie spends 20 to 30 minutes practicing her turns and speed, and then gets to go swimming, said Peg.
Peg said she can't watch it all (the races).
"I have to close my eyes. It's too hard being a mom on the sidelines, but I'm getting more comfortable with it."
The scariest thing that happened to Angie, according to Peg, was when her throttle stuck at a race in Cambridge as she was coming into a turn.
"My bike went crazy, Mom, and I had to jump off," Angie said.
She has taken a couple of spills said her mom, but the protective clothing keeps her pretty safe.
Peg said Angie wears a chest protector, a kidney belt, helmet, gloves, boots, and a shirt and pants with elbow and thigh padding, plus goggles.
Next year, Angie will be riding a Kawasaki 60 cc bike in the 7-11 class. She will have to learn to learn to shift gears and handle a bigger bike, said her mom.
"Dan and Connie Laney helped us learn what we had to do to get started," said Peg. "They were a lot of help."
Travis and Angie will be racing in the Good Neighbor Days motocross on Saturday, June 28.
Angie participated in the Lester Prairie Longhorn
Days parade to promote both Good Neighbor Days and their sport