Be like Mike?
Not feisty 7-year-old Mantecan Hunter Brooks.
He’s too young to be influenced by the Gatorade commercials featuring NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan anyway.
His chosen career path doesn’t involve a basketball, baseball bat or football cleats. He’s more at home on two wheels, a handlebar and an engine.
Spalding, no. KTM Pro 50, yes.
“I want to be like Carmichael,” Brooks said.
As in Ricky Carmichael, a retired motocross and supercross legend who now races stock cars.
Hunter, entering his second-grade year at Joshua Cowell School, began training in November of 2008 and dominated in his first year of competitive racing, winning 19 of 23 races.
Some of his top achievements from 2009 include first-place finishes in the Danny Knight Memorial, the 100cc Nationals and the point standings champion at the Lodi Cycle Bowl. He also competed in the Supermoto USA NorCal Series in Stockton, Sacramento and Infineon Speedway in Sonoma.
So far he is leading the 50 cc DTS Sr. division at the Lodi Cycle Bowl having won all six of his six races, but none bigger than the 2010 Amateur Motorcyclist Association West Cost Hole Shot Series on May 29 and 30.
Hunter won both races in the event, which qualified him for the Dirt Track Grand Championship in DeQuoin, Ill.
John Brooks, his father, admits that he’s surprised at how well Hunter has fared this early in his career.
“He’s got that natural ability to do it well,” John said. “He’s hungry. For a little kid he doesn’t like to lose.
“I don’t push him that much, but he gets mad at himself if he doesn’t do well. I have to tell him, ‘There’s always next time.’”
Hunter’s mom, Jamie, supports him, though the occasional spill on the track still makes her cringe.
“It can be a little scary, but he’s a tough little kid,” she said. “But when he falls he just wants to get back up and keep going. It doesn’t bother me too much. I like to watch him race.”
For Hunter, the bigger the jumps and the faster the machines the better.
“Next thing you know I’ll be in supercross,” he said.
John tries to slow Hunter’s roll when he starts talking about racing motorcycles at the highest level, but he knows how stubborn the youngest of his six children is.
“Motocross is where you get really hurt, so we’re trying to avoid that for now,” John said. “He actually started racing quarter midgets, but ever since he was a little guy he wanted to race motorcycles. The four-wheel stuff just wasn’t for him.”
To contact Jonamar Jacinto, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (209 )249-3538.