Robert Lopez has qualified for the Motocross Nationals.

“Would you like to cover this?” the Marengo-Union Times editor asked. We’d gotten an e-mail from a Mom about her son. He was going to be in a bike race, and he’d been racing since he was 4. “This is a big deal for motocross racers,” she wrote.

I went to meet the little boy. I was wrong. This is no little boy. Robert Lopez, son of Robert and Suellen Lopez of Union, started motocross racing at age 4 because his Dad is a motocross racer. He is now 17 and is racing at the championship level. His younger brother, Mario, also started racing at a young age and continues to compete. Both boys are part of the American Motocross Association which sponsors local and regional races all over the country. Robert, a junior at Marengo Community High School, and Mario, a freshman, have between them, nearly filled a room with the trophies they have won.

Robert’s Mom was right. This is a big deal! For the first time in his career, Robert has qualified to race in the Loretta Lynn Amateur Motocross National Challenge at Hurricane Mills, TN. This event will be held July 28-August 4, 2018. Over the week there will be competitions at many age levels and bike sizes. Robert will be racing in the 250 C Junior Race. He is also an alternate for the 125 C Junior event.

Motocross racing involves travelling and camping for the whole Lopez family, which consists of five boys ranging in age from 7 to 17 and their parents. Dad, Robert has been a motocross enthusiast all his life. He has even built a motocross track complete with jumps, on their property in Union. Mom, Suellen, who is principal of Locust School in Marengo, shares interest in the sport and the enjoyment of family camping.

“We’ve travelled all over the country for races,” explained Robert. He mentioned Texas, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio and Arkansas. Of course, the biggest attraction is the race in Tennessee. “We’ll get there early,” Robert remarked, “so we can scope out the track.”

What keeps a boy interested in a sport that he started when he was 4? Robert’s face lights up as he talks about motocross racing. “I love the adrenaline rush and the speed, and of course, winning.” People are important to Robert as well. He enjoys meeting all the kids in the races. He also spoke about how important his dad, and his dad’s friend Bob Behrins are to him. “Bob is my mechanic, and he still races himself. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him and my dad.”

Robert expects to keep racing all his life, following in his Dad’s footsteps. Will he start his kids racing at a young age? “Oh yeah,” he replied. “I hope they like it as much as I do.”

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