Page 16 - AZ Extreme - AEM Volume 8 Issue 1
P. 16

 It’s hard for me to believe, but almost one year ago to the day, my older son Scott was chosen by KTM USA
to race in the Minneapolis round of the KTM JR Supercross Challenge. For those who know how lucky you have
to be to get chosen for one of these races, you can imagine how incredibly fortunate I felt when my younger son Dean got the call for the San Diego round at Petco Park on February 10th, 2018! To have one of my sons be given this once in a lifetime opportunity
was a blessing. But to have both of them chosen is sort of unheard of. Knowing the odds are so low, that was the reason I decided to submit Dean’s race resume to KTM USA this year even though I knew he would be one
of the youngest and smallest kids out there. My rationale was if Dean didn’t get chosen in 2018, we would have 2019 to try again. I was also worried how disappointed Dean might be if he didn’t get the opportunity knowing what a great time his older brother had last year.
I had my fingers crossed that we might have been chosen for the Glendale round here in town. But San Diego was amazing and in many ways gave Dean the full Supercross superstar experience that he wouldn’t have had here in town. We played hooky from school on Friday and drove out early
to have plenty of time to check into our hotel, have a nice dinner and walk down to the stadium. After throwing our bags in our hotel room, we took the elevator down to the lobby, turn the corner and immediately bump into
Aaron Plessinger, one of the boys’ favorite riders and current leader in the 250cc points standings. I think Dean was a little confused for a second . . . wondering if it was really him or not.
It wasn’t until after Aaron posed for a picture with him and gave him a few words of encouragement for his race that it actually sunk in. Afterwards, I told Dean that this hotel is where all the PROS stay and his little face lit up with a huge smile.
The next morning we made our way down to the AMA check-in booth and then over to the KTM big rig parked in the pits. Although we had done this a year ago, I was still nervous about how the long 14-hour day ahead of us would all play out. Seeing that almost half
of the kids Dean was about to compete against were from California didn’t help my nerves either as the Cali-kids are notoriously fast! But my primary concern and expectation for Dean was that he had fun, no matter what position he finished in the actual race.
The hours flew by with one activity after another and before we knew it, it was time to head over to the track for our first of two practice sessions. It didn’t take long for my suspicions to
be confirmed as I saw some incredibly talented kids out there really ripping it up. And then my anxiety after realizing that little Danger Dean had the slowest lap time of all 15 kids, and by a lot! For those that haven’t seen Dean race, he may not be the fastest kid around but he’s definitely no slouch either! It was obvious he had some major work cut
out for him if he wanted to catch up to the rest of the pack.
After getting back to the pits after the first practice, I think the KTM representatives were truly impressed saying it was one of the fastest group of kids they’ve had in a long time and really didn’t have much feedback other than to tell them to be careful on the first lap next time out as the condition of the track is constantly changing. Heading back out for second practice
I was admittedly nervous, but Dean didn’t seem nervous at all, got to work and shaved a full 16 seconds off his lap time. Although he was still last place again in practice, at least he was knocking on some doors. Without mentioning much to Dean, I could tell he was determined to go for broke in the main even if it meant falling and coming in last.
The back and forth between the stadium and the pits about two city blocks away was taking its toll on
all of us. The folks at KTM kept us extremely busy the entire day giving the kids the full factory racer experience with activities such as a tour of the inside of the big race rigs, meet and greets with KTM factory rider Marvin Musquin and even an autograph signing session where the kids were signing posters for the fans in the pits. But time flew by and before we knew it, opening ceremonies were over and we were getting ready for the actual race. We made our way down through the tunnel one last time and out into the packed stadium of 40,000 cheering fans.
Dean got off to a great start and
was right there in the mix the first few corners before the leaders started to pull away. But unlike practice, it seemed like the kids were packed more tightly together after the first lap with only a few seconds separating 5th from 15th. Dean pulled past me in last place on
the first lap, but was literally right on the back tire of the kid in front of him. With only three laps to work with, he made the pass into 14th place and was battling back and forth for 13th. Before I could blink, it was all over. After greeting him with a huge hug when they crossed the finish line, Dean was beaming with pride and said he wished he had another lap to make that pass for 13th stick.
Over the past few years, I’ve lost count of how many races Dean has entered. But I honestly don’t remember a more exciting race and I was beyond impressed by how hard he fought
for that 14th place finish. He was determined to not come in last place and rode his little butt off to make it happen! As a father, I could not have been more proud of him and so thankful he was given the opportunity to experience something like this. I’d like to thank my mom, my aunt and uncle and my cousins for making the drive down to San Diego for the race. And I’d also like to thank our friends and family for all the words of encouragement, well wishes and support before and after the race. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again . . . the Arizona racing community is like a second family to us and we are blessed to be a part of it! v
Story and Photos by Scott Swenson
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