Local 7-year-old heading to Motocross Championship
By Paul Palmer
At just 7 years old, Justus Pearston of Canton has a shot at being one of the country’s top Motocross racers.
He will be heading to the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship in Tennessee the first week in August. Not bad for someone who took up the sport just two years ago at age 5.
“We started by accident,” said Alex Pearston. He is not only Justus’ father, he’s also his mechanic, crew chief and self-proclaimed team owner. “COVID hit and there was no baseball, or soccer or anything. We had an old dirt bike so we got into a race in Upstate New York.” Little did Alex and his wife Jamie realize that Justus would not only fall in love with racing, but also become one of the top riders in his age group in the nation.
To reach the National’s, Justus had to finish in the top 9 in the area and top 6 in the region in qualifying races. He secured his golden ticket to Tennessee with three, third-place finishes at the June 3 Regional Qualifier at Dublin Gap, PA. He races in the Junior Unlimited Class and Micro 2 Junior Limited ages 4-6. Justus, a second grader at Cherry Brook Primary School, seems to be taking his ride at Nationals all in stride.
“It’s a race like every other one,” says the blonde-haired racer. “But it’s just better.”
Reaching this goal is a family affair. In addition to the work of his Dad, his mother and brother both have “team titles.” Jamie is the “Mom-ager” part Mom, part manager. “I take care of the media, social media, sponsorships, laundry, and travel plans,” she said. Older brother Chance whose favorite sport is football, says he is the team chef specializing in tacos.
Motocross racing does not take place in Connecticut and that has driven up the costs for the family. Alex built a practice track in the backyard to go along with the weekly training Justus does in Orange County, NY. The closest races are in Southwick, MA (‘The Wick) and the season starts in February and runs into November. Racing usually starts in the south- this year in Georgia and then at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. It is also a costly sport, especially for a rider as young as Justus. “We do get some discounts on gear, and have some local sponsors, but we can spend about $1,000 each race weekend between entry fees, admission, diesel to drive, lodging and food,” said Jamie. They are hoping that more local sponsors come onboard and help support Justus and cover some of the costs.
“It’s fun when it’s muddy,” said Justus. “It is fun to ride in the mud and eat some dirt,” he added with a big smile. Both parents admit to being nervous about their sons racing but see the joy he gets from it. “Here’s there to knock knuckles when he wins, and he’s there to knock knuckles with the other racers when he loses,” his mother said.
The race in Tennessee is held at a track on property that is owned by singer Loretta Lynn. It was nearly destroyed by flooding a year ago and has been rebuilt just for the championships. No other races take place on the course at any time. When the championship weekend concludes Justus will find out where he ranks in the country in his age group. He had to land in the top 42 to even get the invite to Nationals. When he finishes the set of three races in Hurricane Mills, TN, he’ll get a national ranking based on his performance there and also a “Dirty 100” ranking which takes into account races from around the country this year and ranks the top 100 based on their results. “We’ve never emphasized to him how good he is,” his father said. “He has zero idea how good he is.”