No wonder Stevie thought, Jake had been racing for over a year now, he’s used to it. All Stevie could think about was getting to the race track and how the big day was almost here.
It had been three months now since his Grand pappy Miller had brought it home. The bright red motocross bike he had been wanting for years. Stevie had been riding and practicing on it every spare minute he had. It seemed like forever until he could get home from school to ride. Then there was the homework, and then supper, and you can’t forget about the chores. Finally, any spare daylight, and you could find Stevie out on the families practice track with his dad, Tom Warner learning the basics of motocross racing.
Stevie’s dad Tom was a semi-pro MX Racer and he owned the local motorcycle shop in town. Stevie had been around motorcycles and racing all his life, most weekends you could find the Warner family traveling across the state to one race track or another. The whole family enjoyed the time that they could spend together on the weekends doing what they loved to do, and that was racing motorcycles.
Stevie kept telling himself, “Go to sleep, go to sleep.” But as hard as he tried, he just kept thinking about when the gate was going to drop, or what gear did dad say I should be in to start. Steve thought to himself, “I bet I’ll catch more air on that table top jump that Jake does, boy am I gonna show him.”
“Stevie, wake up!” “Huh…..?”
Stevie’s mom, Jane Warner, thought to herself, “I knew something like this was going to happen.” Steve had been so excited about his first race, she knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep.
“Stevie,,, wake UP" “What? Huh? Is it time mom?”
“Yes, get moving kiddo, everyone else is already done with breakfast, let’s go.” “Sorry mom, I couldn’t get to sleep. I tried, and I tried, I even think Jake was snoring and that sure didn’t help things.”
“Honey, your brother doesn’t snore, it was probably just your father out in the garage. He was working on the race bikes until after midnight.” “Well, maybe it was dad, yippee mom!,,, come on, let’s go!”
Jane Warner was the back bone of the whole Warner racing team effort. Yes, her husband Tom worked long hours at the shop taking care of his customers, but Jane was the one who kept the race schedules in order, kept all the gear clean, and also made sure there was plenty of food in the motorhome to feed the whole Warner crew for the weekend.
Jane was used to going to the races, that is where she first met her husband Tom. Janes dad was a racer too, so she spent a lot of time at the race tracks when she was a girl.
“Let’s go gang,” Jane yelled through the house, “we have a four hour ride ahead of us.”
The Warners piled into the motorhome one at a time. Pap Miller was already in the driver’s seat, Jake and Stevie’s dad Tom were just finishing up loading the gear, and Stevie’s mom was coming out of the house with her arms full of last minute items they needed or their trip.
“Dad, did you strap my bike down really good?” Stevie asked. “Yes, son,,, your bike will be fine.” “Well I hope so, I don’t want anything happening to it before I get a chance to race it.”
“Relax little brother,” Jake shouted from the back of the motorhome, “You’ll get the first chance to crash it up tomorrow morning when you hit the track.”
Stevie thought to himself, “Great,,, I probably won’t be able to sleep tonight, either, just one more day till I get to show them who the best racer in the family really is.”
Usually, the Warners didn’t leave until the morning of the race. But this weekend, they were racing at the Shady Run MX Park over on the East side of the state. It was a long drive and practice started early Sunday morning, so they decided to leave a day ahead of time. Besides, Stevie couldn’t wait to get there and get ready for the biggest day of his life.
The Warners arrived at the track late on Saturday afternoon. Stevie was the first one out of the motorhome and he was rip roaring to do everything at once. “Come on dad, lets unload the bikes,,, no,,, let’s go get signed up,,, Dad?,,, did you remember the race gas?”
“Hey, settle down there partner, sign up didn’t even open yet,” chuckled Stevie’s dad.
The Warners all had a job to do. They had all been to the races hundreds of times before, but today was a little different than other race days. It was about to be Stevie’s first race and they all gave Stevie a little extra attention, even Stevie’s big brother Jake.
That night around the camp fire, the Warners talked about Stevie’s first race. About how exciting it was going to be, and how well he was going to do. Pap Miller told race stories about the old days when he used to race and about the time when Stevie’s mom, Jane entered a race. Pap Miller had told that same story many times before, but the whole family listed like it was the first time they had ever heard it.
“OK gang, it’s time for bed. Everybody,,, and I mean EVERYBODY has a BIG day tomorrow.” Jane Warner commanded.
Stevie was anxious to go to bed, he knew the sooner he could get to sleep the sooner the morning would get here. As Stevie’s mom tucked him into bed, they talked about how much fun the next day was going to be and they both fell asleep lying there dreaming about Stevie’s first race.
The race day started early at Shady Run, and Stevie woke up to the sound of race bikes revving and the smell of freshly made pancakes. Stevie was always up early at the races helping his dad Tom get the race bikes ready to go.
Tom Warner wasn’t racing today. Tom usually rode in the Veteran class reserved for riders over 30 years old, but today was Stevie’s big day, and Tom decided to sit this race out.
Stevie jumped out of bed and got dressed in less than a minute. As he headed for the front door of the motor home he was still trying to get his sneakers on. Stevie’s mom yelled from the kitchen, “Get over here Steve, and eat some breakfast.”
“But mom,,,,!” “No buts Stevie, you’ve waited this long, 15 more minutes is not going to kill you.” Just about that time Stevie’s dad Tom came through the front door laughing, “Listen to your mom son, you need a good hot breakfast to get your day started right.”
“But dad,,,,” Stevie pleaded,,,, “Let’s eat some pancakes son, then we’ll go get you signed up.” “OK dad,” Stevie sighed. ‘This is killing me’ Stevie thought.
After breakfast the Warners headed to the sign up shack, it was the longest walk Stevie had ever had to take. It seemed like they bumped into everybody they knew along the way. Stevie’s dad was very popular and well liked at the track. He always had spare parts along and was always willing to help a fellow racer if they were having problems with their bike.
Finally, Stevie and his big brother Jake were signed up for their races. Tom Warner had gotten up early and did his final check over on the race bikes and everything was ready to go. All there was to do now was to go out and walk the track and then wait for practice to start.
Tom Warner always walked completely around a course the day of a race no matter how many times he competed there. It was something his father had taught him, and it was a practice he was determined to pass down to his sons.
“Come on Stevie,” yelled Jake, “we’re going to walk the track.” “OK” Stevie yelled back, “wait for me!”
As they walked around the track, Stevie was so excited. He explained to his dad and his brother how far he was going to fly over each jump on the course. Ten year old Jake asked his dad later, “Did I act like that my first time dad?”
Tom Warner smiled and replied, “worse then that, Jake!” ‘No way,’ thought Jake.
The Warners got back to the motorhome and Stevie was in his gear in no time. “Let’s go dad” he yelled, “practice is about to start!” “OK son,,, relax,,, we still have about an hour to wait.”
Tom Warner tried to remember his first race. He wasn’t quite as young as Stevie and it had been many years ago. As his memories came back to him, he realized at just that moment how big of a deal this must be to Stevie.
“OK boys, let’s go.” Tom said. Stevie’s mom Jane looked at her husband as she pointed to her watch. “Let’s be the first ones in line for practice today.” He said.
“Yippe!” yelled Stevie, as he ran over to his bright red race bike, “it’s time!”
Stevie’s big brother Jake also realized what his dad was doing as he thought back to his fist race just over a year ago. As they sat on the line waiting for practice to start, Stevie’s dad was going over last minute instructions with him. They were talking about gears and jumps and making sure Stevie’s helmet was tight.
“Dad?,,, is it time yet?” “10 more minutes son,,,” as they both smiled from ear to ear.
Stevie’s class was the first one to practice. His group had about 20 riders in it, many first timers themselves. They had 10 minutes to go out and get familiar with the Shady Run course.
Stevie was the first one out on the track. Tom and Jane Warner were both nervous and excited, their baby boy was about to grow up just a little bit more. Stevie came out of the gate and headed for the first corner. “Yippee!” he yelled, “finally I’m a racer!”
He powered his little red race bike through the corners and over the jumps. He went around and round the course getting more confident with each lap. Stevie was doing very well, just as his dad had expected. He had been riding for quite a while now, and Stevie had listened to every word his dad had said. He had been a good student.
Stevie came off the track from his practice just as he had started, in first place. “I won, I won!” he screamed, “I beat them all dad.”
Stevie’s pap Miller and his mom smiled, they knew it was just a practice. But to Stevie, it was the best thing that had ever happened to him in his entire 8 years of his life.
“I won dad,,,, I did it!” “Yes son,” Stevie’s dad said, “you did great! Remember though, it was a practice session. It wasn’t the actual race.” “I know dad,,,, but I did real good, didn’t I???”
“You did fantastic son,” he said smiling back at him, “now let’s get ready for your first moto.”
Stevie’s race was the 5th race in the schedule for the day, so they had some time to spare. Jake was racing right after him in the 6th race, so pap Miller was going to help him. Stevie’s dad was going to help Stevie to the gate, since it was his first race. The anticipation built as the day wore on.
The fourth race of the day had just left the gate when Tom Warner looked at Stevie and said, “It’s time.” “Yes!” yelled Stevie.
He had been sitting on his bike with his helmet on for the last 15 minutes. This time out would be a little different than Stevie’s practice. This time all the riders would line up on a gate beside each other and would wait for the gate to fall before they would all race to the first corner 50 yards away.
As Stevie pulled up to the gate for his first race, he started to get a funny feeling deep down in his stomach. ‘Boy, this was different,’ he thought, ‘in practice they were all lined up behind me’. Stevie looked to his left, then his right, there was that Davey Johnson. He was the kid that wins a lot. There were 17 other riders in his class and Stevie wasn’t sure what to think at that moment. Stevie’s dad looked at him and asked, “Are you feeling a little funny, right about now, partner?”
“Yeah, dad, how did you know? My stomach feels weird, it’s a little scary.” “Relax Stevie, can I tell you a little secret?” “Sure dad,” Stevie said, “but make it fast.”
“I still get that same weird feeling every time I pull up to the gate.”: “Even now?” Stevie asked, “you’ve been racing forever!” “Even now son, after all these years.”
Suddenly Stevie had a feeling of calm come over him as he realized that his dad was just like him. “Are you all ready?” Stevie’s dad asked him as he patted him on his back.
“Yeah dad” Stevie said, “I’m ready.” Tom Warner backed away from the gate as the 30 second card came out. Stevie knew from being at the races, that when the 30 second card came out, the gate was about to fall. Stevie’s dad Tom had told him, “As soon as the card gets turned sideways, keep your eyes on the gate”.
And that’s exactly what Stevie did, he looked down with his stomach all twisted up in knots and within seconds that gate began to drop. To Stevie, it seemed like slow motion. He had waited so long for this moment in time and all the sudden, it was here.
The gate hit the ground with a thud, and Stevie twisted the throttle. He could see Davey Johnson out of the corner of his eye starting to pull away towards the first corner. Stevie yelled, “Oh No You Don’t !” and got on the gas even harder. As Stevie and the rest of the Pee Wee Class reached the first corner, he realized that his stomach was no longer in knots, and that he was finally doing what he was born to do, and that was to race motorcycles.
Davey Johnson was leading the pack. But Stevie was only a few riders behind. The race lasted for three laps and Stevie was able to work his way into a 5th place finish. He pulled off the track happy that he had finally got to ride his first race but still feeling a little disappointed that he couldn’t catch that Davey Johnson.
Stevie’s mom and dad met him as he was coming off the track. Stevie could see his grand pappy Miller over by the gate with Jake giving him a big thumbs up. Stevie’s dad Tom patted him on the back as he told him what a great job he had done. Jane Miller was just as excited that Stevie had done so well in his first race.
“But dad,,,, I only got 5th,” cried Stevie, “you win almost every week!”
Tom Warner smiled as he began another life lesson with his youngest son. “Stevie”, he said, “I raced for three whole years before I got a 5th place finish.”
"Really Dad?” Stevie replied. “You bet son, you did fantastic. Now let’s go get the bike ready for your next race.”
That night as the Warners were driving home, Stevie lay in the back bedroom of the motor home sound asleep. Jane warner said to her husband Tom, “I bet he hasn’t slept this well in days.” "You’re right,” replied Stevie’s dad.
Stevie had done exceptionally well for his first race. In his second moto of the day, Stevie finished second behind Davey Johnson for a second overall finish for the day. He had won a trophy that was 3 feet tall, but most of all, he proved to himself that he truly was part of the Warner racing team.
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