Steamboat Springs Not a whole lot of kids in Colorado would rate a trip to Ponca City, Okla., as the highlight of their summer vacation.
But last week, when the sleepy town of 26,000 was transformed with National Motosport Association Grand National Championships, Hayden's Ben Fulton knew he had a chance to test his race skills against the nation's best.
The 14-year-old motocross rider qualified for the event with two top-12 finishes at a pair of early April Rocky Mountain Motocross Association, or RMXA, events in Milliken.
Fulton noticed one immediate difference during his first few laps on his Yamaha YZ 250 F: "There were older kids, but on the same size bikes, but were just going really fast," he said.
Fulton adjusted fast as well. In his 250 novice race July 24, Fulton finished seventh out of 40 racers in his division, qualifying in the top eight for the 250 novice finals Saturday.
For the rest of the week, Fulton raced in two other classes, the 250 four-stroke non-pro class and the 250 modified novice class. He missed finals qualification in both, finishing 20th and 15th, respectively, but learned some valuable lessons.
"I think I rode good - now I know what it feels like to (ride at that level), like waiting to brake until you are much farther into a corner," Fulton said.
At the Saturday finals, Fulton finished 25th. Not bad, considering the field of 140 or that he started racing just last summer.
Fulton thought what would help him most in the remaining RMXA regional races of the season was learning to accelerate through the choppy, loose dirt of the national course, which should only mean more speed when he hits the dry Colorado courses.
With seven remaining RMXA races, Fulton said he will continue "riding hard to finish out the season as good as I can," to fulfill a goal of a top-10 season finish in the 250 stock and modified class rankings.