Okeechobee youth qualifies for Motocross nationals

OKEECHOBEE — Six-year-old Carter Clay started to race motocross just over one year ago and has already improved to the point where he will race in the largest national amateur motor cross championship race in the world in August in Tennessee.

Carter, who attends North Elementary School, is the son of Ashley and Russell Clay of Okeechobee.

At the age of one, his parents bought him a small motorbike and he took to the sport.

He said he already knows what it takes to succeed.

Okeechobee's Clay Carter has qualified for Motocross nationals.

Okeechobee’s Clay Carter has qualified for Motocross nationals.

“You have to work hard to be a real champion,” he said.

He has traveled through Florida, Texas and North Carolina in the past year. He finished third in the qualifier held here at Florida Cycle Park in Okeechobee on May 16, and then finished second and fourth in two divisions at the regional race in Henderson, N.C.

The races are organized by the American Motocross Association. The Clay family anxiously awaits for the start of the motocross season on television each January.

Russell was also a racer as a child. He started at age 12 and was able to qualify for nationals once during his career. Carter, who just turned 6, is one of the younger competitors to qualify and only a handful of 6-year-olds have won a national title.

Carter also wasn’t dismayed when he suffered a broken collarbone and a badly burned arm in various motorbike accidents in recent years.

“We left it up to him. If he gets injured, he always has the choice to stop riding but he always wants to get back on the bike,” Ashley said.

The motocross races in his division average 15 to 20 miles per hour. Carter rides two Cobra bikes, a Cobra P 3 and a Cobra junior and two blue bikes known as Yahama 50s.

“We knew we had something right away because he has talent. He only started to race and was winning,” she added.

Carter will also compete in a motocross winter Olympics race during Thanksgiving week in Gainesville.

“I believe he deserves some recognition for all his hard work he has done and has paid off so far. He’s worked really hard to get where he’s at. It’s a struggle and a long process. He has earned his position in the race,” she said.

Carter is strong willed and determined to succeed, his mother said.

“It is very competitive. It’s a lifestyle. It is hard sometimes for him to understand that it’s okay to lose because the kids are so competitive,” she added.

The local track also helps Carter because he can practice there on a weekly basis.

Carter said every time he races he feels like he is in the nationals and that he really wanted to qualify for nationals.

“Some kids don’t make it,” he said. “My dad and my mom support me a lot. It’s pretty good to get to nationals. I hope one day to drive monster trucks.”Carter Clay qualifies for nationals photo 2

His sponsors include Wesley Parker of Big Frog Orlando, Norman Clay of Innovative Accessories, Laura Parker and Taylor Jones, Okeechobee Feed, Kris McCracken, and his parents.

The Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship is the world’s largest and most prestigious amateur motocross racing program. The national qualifying program consists of Area Qualifiers (February through May) and Regional Championships (May through June), hosted at select motocross facilities across the country. The qualifying system culminates in the National Final (first week in August) hosted annually since 1982 at the home of country music star Loretta Lynn in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. Nearly 22,000 racers attempt to qualify in 38 classes for the 1,482 available positions at the National. Christened “The World’s Greatest Motocross Vacation,” the National event serves as a launch pad for some of the biggest names in professional motocross and supercross, including Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, and Ryan Dungey. The national program is produced by MX Sports, Inc., a West Virginia-based race production company and sanctioned by AMA. For information, please visit www.mxsports.com.

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