Riding with my dad when I was younger has burned some of the fondest memories into my head. The only thing is that I never really got to race with my dad when he was doing it consistently. You see I grew up riding in the desert on weekends with my family and sometimes that would mean going to a local off-road desert race to watch my dad race (and pit for him). By the time I was old enough to race, my dad put his riding to the side, to put his effort, focus and money into my racing efforts. My dad’s original plan was to have him and I race the famous Barstow To Vegas off-road race that was on his yearly racing plan. That ended when he found out that the year we were going to sign up together; the event was cancelled and never to be ran again. The dream of racing together at one event slowly slipped away as we both grew older. I went on to race local motocross races and turned my love of dirt bikes into a full time job. My dad kept working 80-hour weeks and focused more of his time to his first love, old muscle cars.

Road To Loretta's 2017
After a restless night of sleeping, Aden was ready to take on his first Loretta Lynn Qualifier.Photo by Heather Keefer

Fast-forward to 2017 and I have my own 11-year-old son, Aden. He has only taken interest in riding in the past couple years and recently asked if he could try to qualify for Loretta Lynn’s. Once he showed me that he could ride with decent technique and that his grades at school were good, we could both try and get to the ranch together. It was weird to think about after all of these years and races that I have done I never tried to get to Loretta’s. To my surprise Aden’s technique has come around (which means he has been listening to me after all, WOW) and his grades at school have been really good. We marked the calendar to do the midwest area qualifier at 333 MX Park in Victorville, California. Now what I was concerned with is that Aden hasn’t been riding long and only had raced three races and all of these other kids that are trying to qualify dedicate themselves to riding their dirt bikes. Aden plays football in the summer and doesn’t ride that much during those months. The classes that MX Sports has for the amateur classes are age based and not skill based, so I knew we were going to be in for an uphill battle.

Road To Loretta's 2017
There is nothing better than sharing something that you love with the person you love.Photo by Heather Keefer

The night before the race I could tell Aden was nervous as he was asking a lot of questions and going out to the garage to sit on his bike about 16 times. I told him it was ok and that “it’s normal to feel nervous before a race”. It’s funny when you have your own kids, that flash backs happen often of when you were younger and said or did some of the same exact things your kids do. We arrived at the race on Saturday morning and assessed the track and came up with our game plan to have a successful day. In our family it doesn’t matter if you get last or first as long as you try your hardest the whole race. If you have fun and try hard, it will be a successful day.

Road To Loretta's 2017
Team Keefer made it out of the Midwest Area Qualifier and will be headed to Hangtown in June to try and get to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.Photo by Heather Keefer

There was 22 total motos to be run on the day and of course our motos were back to back (moto 9 and 10). I raced my first moto and immediately came off the track to download him with some important track info. Aden was ready for his first moto, but he crashed in the first corner and had to work his way back into the top ten. He finished ninth in the first moto and I was proud that he worked his way back up and passed a few kids. Luckily for me, I had an easy day to qualify out of both of my classes (25 plus and 40 plus), so I could focus on Aden’s day. In the second moto, Aden had to deal with rougher conditions and a dry track, much different than the first moto. Again, Aden got a terrible start (note to self: must help Aden with start technique) and again worked his way up through the pack. I noticed some of the things that I relayed to him before his moto about line choices and he was putting it to good use. He worked his way up (again) to eighth and ninth overall on the day. To my surprise, he qualified to go to the midwest Regional in Sacramento. The smile on Aden’s face when he found out he qualified was worth every penny. Guess what that means? It looks like we are in full Loretta’s mode at the Keefer household. What is funny is that my wife Heather seems to be way more aggressive with this than me. She has already booked hotel rooms and planning her vacation time around the dates of the Regional and the Amateur National at “The Ranch”. Aden woke up Sunday morning and said “Hey Dad, I think we should ride today so I can get in some proper training in for Loretta’s. Oh and can you teach me to start better too?" We were at the track by 9:30AM and were burning laps by 10. Guess you can say that bug that I got bit with when I was nine years old, Aden seems to have been bit by that sucker as well. That bug is the "dirt bike bug" and I am more than happy to load up the van and go to the track with my son to create long lasting memories that will last both of our lifetimes.

I will keep you all in the loop on our journey to "The Ranch" and update you all right here on dirtrider.com on future adventures, that this newfound goal will bring us.

Road To Loretta's 2017
Looking at the best starting gate to try and rip a holeshot from before practice gets underway.Photo by Heather Keefer
Road To Loretta's 2017
Aden took ninth overall on the day, and now has newfound motivation to wake dad up early to go practice.Photo by Heather Keefer
Road To Loretta's 2017
Senior Test Editor Kris Keefer will be looking to make his Loretta Lynn debut at the ripe old age of 40!Photo by Heather Keefer
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