The sun beats down in waves as it swelters, and the dirt bikers sit with it, lined up and waiting for the sign to go as the smell of high octane 105 mixed with two-stroke engine oil bites through the air.
“I love it,” Lenny Tennant, owner of Mason Motocross in Point Pleasant, W. Va., said.
Now in his eighth year of running the weekly dirt biking and four wheeling race, Tennant feels he has found his calling in providing a safe space for kids to pursue their passions, especially at the heights and speeds it takes them to.
“It's good at the end of the night to watch all these little kids come up here to the end (and) stand on this podium … with their trophies and stuff like that,” Tennant said. “There's so much hard work (that) goes into it. That's where you feel that you really appreciate it.”
Since Mason Motocross began hosting the race in the Point Pleasant Fairgrounds, the attendance has skyrocketed from an initial 75 riders all the way up to around 300. Tennant believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has been part of the reason for this seemingly exponential growth.
“(Outdoor sports) were one thing that we were still allowed to do, and everybody was branching out,” Tennant said. “It just seemed like in the last couple years, the numbers have probably doubled.”
Tennant and his family have had their own personal developments from these games, as well. One week from this race, Tennant and his fiance, Stacey Miller, will be getting married after four years of engagement.
“Me and her, we’ve known each other for forever,” Tennant said.
While they met when they were younger, they stayed together through organizing these races. Their whole family is heavily involved in the West Virginia dirt biking scene, as Miller’s young son, Noah, also took part in the racing.
They have found that outdoor activities such as dirt biking and four wheeling have pulled their family together. For them and many other participants, dirt biking was never a last resort for sporting fun; it was a way of life.
While Miller fully supports her son in his dirt biking endeavors, she still finds herself worrying.
“He's come a long way,” Miller said. “He started off on a little 50, and now moved up to an 85. He's going fast now. It's a little hard to watch, but I do get nervous.”
Even when she finds it hard to watch, she still stands right at the finish line and cheers him on, night after night. The support that kids have found from their families and their peers is what has fostered the tight-knit feel that frequents the Mason Motocross.
Right next to the finish line, a metal sign stands strong through the winds, reading a phrase Tennant, Miller and all other attendees strive to emulate as they race to the finish line.
The sign reads: “Somewhere at this track, there is a little kid that wants to be just like you someday. You owe it to them to be the best you can be.”