While many boys in Vinton grow up dreaming of sliding across the dirt to home plate, 13-year-old Carter Thurman dreams of riding a motorcyle over top of the dirt.
Thurman, an aspiring motocross racer and seventh grader at William Byrd Middle School, recently won first place in a District 13 race at the Lake Sugar Tree Motorsports Park in Axton, VA. Competing against riders his age from several states, he won his heat race, then took first place in the main event.
It was a special win for Carter, because it was his first race back since breaking his wrist. He was out six weeks, but the real concern was that mom wasn’t going to let him race anymore.
“Carter has no fear,” said his mom, Angie Thurman. “I told him I’d go along with it as long as he didn’t get hurt.”
When Carter took a tumble he knew his wrist was broken, but he made sure he didn’t let mom see him feel the pain. She saw him go down.
“My first thought was that she wasn’t going to let me race anymore,” he said. “I love doing this and I didn’t want to quit. I got right back up and was worried what she would do if she saw my wrist.”
Knowing how much he loved racing, Angie agreed to let Carter continue and he’s back in the saddle in what can be a dangerous sport.
“They have wrecks,” said Carter’s dad, Brian Thurman. “Sometimes you get up and go and sometimes you’re flown out in a helicopter.”
Brian has always been a motorcycle enthusiast and his older children, Hannah(16) and Bryce(20), grew up riding motorcycles for fun. Carter started riding a four-wheeler when he was four years old and as soon as his feet could touch the ground, about age six, he started riding motorcycles. The Thurman’s had a Kawasaki KLX110 that Carter learned on and he was able to ride on a course around the Thurman property off Carson Road in the Bonsack area of Roanoke County.
“I wanted to go the next step,” said Carter. “I had a friend who had a faster bike and dad got me a faster bike and we started going to public tracks.”
Carter also had some friends who had personal tracks, but they’re not as well groomed as the public courses.
“A lot of times they’ll have rocks and stuff you can hit,” said Brian. “It’s like the difference between playing baseball on a nice field or in your back yard.”
Carter ran in his first race in the 8-10 class of the Parts Unlimited Ultra Series. Now in the 85 cc class, he ran in three races in 2016, two in Super Cross and one in the longer “Motocross,” with a longer track and higher speeds.
“He does better in Motocross,” said Brian.
Carter has been training at Sugar Tree under Ryan Smith, a professional Motocross rider. Carter is an amateur but his dream is to be on the pro circuit someday.
“You have to just keep winning and try to get sponsors,” said Brian. “You earn your way up.”
Right now Brian and Angie are the sponsors. The bike Carter rides cost about $4,000 and he has a back up to practice on. However, things break down and have to be fixed. Luckily, Brian has been working on motorcycles all his life and he can usually make the repairs himself.
Carter was a good catcher in Dixie League baseball, but he’s given that up to concentrate on motocross. This summer Carter will continue racing in District 13 races, and he hopes to be competing at some other tracks as well.
“He’s done very well for such a short time racing,” said Brian. “We’re very proud of him.”