HURRICANE MILLS, Tenn. — Ever since Izaih Clark received his first dirt bike when he was two years old, it’s been tough for him to put it down.
Growing up in a family that has spent countless hours on two wheels, it was a natural progression for Clark to find his seat on a bike.
Now, the 17-year-old, who will be a senior at Fort Dodge Senior High, will be competing in the most prestigious amateur motocross race in the world.
Clark and four other Fort Dodgers will race in the 37th annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, presented by Lucas Oil, at the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch.
Also representing Fort Dodge is Deegan Hepp (16 years old), Gage Steburg (15), Matthew Surles-Davis (15) and Krista Pyburn (22).
Action will start Monday and last through Saturday at the Loretta Lynn Ranch.
Clark’s uncle, Matt, a 1995 Fort Dodge graduate, qualified for Loretta Lynn’s three times, and his cousin Tayler (17), who will be a senior at FDSH, was a 2013 qualifier.
“It’s helped a lot (having family who rides),” Clark said. “They (Matt and Joe, his other uncle) gave me lots of advice and I listen to them a lot.”
The Fort Dodge native won’t be a rookie in Tennessee, as this will be his sixth time competing after advancing through the difficult qualifying journey.
First, Clark had an area qualifier in Winterset at Riverside Raceway where you had to finish Top-6 to advance to a regional qualifier. At regionals, he had to finish in the Top-8 out of the Mideast Regional Qualifier in Millville.
“I think it’s pretty cool to qualify, because only a certain amount get to go down,” Clark said. “This is the biggest amateur event there is, there is people from all over.
“I love the atmosphere and I just love to race.”
Clark, who roughly estimates that he has competed in over 300 races, will compete in the highly competitive Schoolboy2 (12-17) class on his Storm Lake Honda 250. Along with enjoying being on the track, he also embraces being around his family.
“My mom and dad (Amber and Logan Barkhaus), grandma and Tayler will be down there,” Clark said. “It’s really nice to be able to come down to the camper and see a lot of different people.”
For Steburg, who will compete in the Supermini1 and Supermini2, his riding career mirrors Clark’s.
Steburg, who will be a sophomore at FDSH, got his first bike at three and began competing when he was four.
“It means a lot (to qualify),” Steburg said. “If you qualify, you’re Top-42 in the country.”
Steburg will also be riding with his family by his side.
“It means the world to have my family here,” Steburg said. “Without my family I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“Their support means the world to me and to have them by my side is important to me.”
Hepp, who will also be a sophomore Dodger, is competing in Tennessee for the first time. He started riding when he was two and racing when he was four.
“Making it to Loretta’s has been an exciting dream come true, with a lot of stress in making it,” Hepp said.
Hepp will compete in the 250C Jr. (12-17) event. Surles-Davis will also ride in the 250C Jr.
Pyburn, who is from Fort Dodge but now resides in Austin, Minn., will take part in the women’s division.
Nearly 22,000 racers attempt to qualify in 35 classes for the 1,446 available positions at the National.
Race action will be broadcast live daily at www.RacerTV.com.
The award ceremony will culminate the week-long activities on Saturday.