At the Richwoods Offroad Motocross Park (ROMP) along Highway 47 south of St. Clair, 4-year-old Aiden “Ace” Enloe feels quite at home.
When he’s not riding one of his two motor bikes through the dirt track, he’s riding along with the owner in a truck that throws water to keep the dirt down or playing in the dirt with his toy motorcycles.
Ace, a nickname his parents gave him using his initials since his first name turned out to be more common than they expected, has been riding motocross since he turned 3 and received his first bike, a Yamaha PW50, for his birthday.
Now at age 4, he’s racing competitively and in a close battle to be the District 18 champion. Who wins is based on total points won over the course of the season, and right now Ace is in second place. The first-place holder actually is Ace’s 7-year-old cousin.
At Ace’s most recent race on Sept. 16, he finished first in the 50cc Peewee stock class against seven other children and second in the 50cc Junior stock class against five other children.
His next race is Oct. 28 at Finger Lakes State Park in Columbia, and there will be one more race after that (which will be held at ROMP in Richwoods) to determine who has the most points to be District 18 Champion.
Beginner to Cobra
At 2 years old, Ace had already mastered riding a traditional two-wheel bicycle, and his interest in motocross was strong.
“We’d watch the races on TV together,” his dad, Caleb Enloe, said. “We were big fans and he decided he wanted to race.”
He and Ace’s mom, Shannon, knew Ace was a little young. Most kids don’t start racing until they’re 4, and that’s the earliest a child can start racing in the sanctioned American Motocross Association races.
Still, they bought Ace a bike so he could start learning. The PW50 goes up to about 30 miles per hour, said Caleb. “It’s a beginner bike.”
Ace took to it really well and was eager to race, so his parents entered him in some of the non-sactioned races and he competed in the 4- to 6-year-old division.
Next came another bike, a Cobra Junior, which goes twice as fast as the PW50.
“When we first put him on it, we got a couple of raised eyebrows,” admits Ace’s mom, Shannon Enloe. “But he’s wearing all of the protective gear.”
That includes boots, knee pads, pants with padding, elbow pads, gloves a vest/chest protector that’s made out of the same material bull riders wear, and a Department of Transportation approved helmet.
“As long as you have on the right protective gear and don’t ride outside of your skill set, you’ll be safe,” Shannon remarked.
Ace started out learning to ride on the baseball field at Evergreen Park in St. Clair and sometimes in the undeveloped areas in his subdivision.
“He’s outside constantly building a track for his dirt bike toys, or using the rug inside to build jumps,” said Shannon Enloe, with a laugh.
Ace’s favorite track, however, is ROMP, which also happens to be the closest one to their home.
“The jumps are pretty awesome,” Ace said of the 1 1/2-mile ROMP track.
The secret to successful jumping, he noted, is keeping on the throttle, so the front tire doesn’t hit the ground first.
Makes It to Loretta Lynn’s
In his first year of racing Ace made it to the Red Bull Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. — the premier race for amateur motocross racers seeking the most sought after national title among motocross riders — as first alternate on his PW50.
He qualified to go to Loretta Lynn’s because he had placed first in an area race and then at a regional race in Minnesota he placed fifth overall (out of 12) in the 4- to 6-year-old division.
As the first alternate, Ace would have been able to race if anyone didn’t make it to the race, was sick or injured. That didn’t happen, but Ace was still able to practice with the team just in case — and he was impressive, his dad said, proudly.
“He was faster than all of them in the practice times,” Caleb remarked.
Ace was disappointed that he didn’t get to race at Loretta Lynn’s, but it’s only made him that much more determined to get there — and win — next year.
Ace is an energetic and determined little boy, and his personality comes through even on the race track. After he lands a good jump, he shakes his fist in the air to show his pride and enthusiasm.
A GoPro camera attached to his helmet takes videos of his rides, and his parents said he can be heard giving himself pep talks along the track and sometimes singing songs.
With all of the equipment and protective gear needed to ride motocross, it can be an expensive sport, the Enloes say. Add in the cost of entry fees and travel for competitions, and it’s even more so.
“This year alone will probably add up to $10,000 by the end of the season,” said Shannon.
The family has a few sponsors, which help offset some expenses — Big St. Charles Motorsports, MotoXvest and Hot Shots MX. The ROMP track also has been very accommodating, they noted.
Although motocross is expensive, it’s a great sport, the Enloes said. It’s a very family-oriented atmosphere.
“The races are always full family events,” said Shannon. “We are at races with the same people almost every weekend. We really get to know everyone.”
In fact, at one race she had unknowingly dropped her cellphone on the dirt track and a week later, after she had given up finding it assuming someone had walked off with it to sell for some quick cash, received a call from the person who had found it.
With all of his success on the race track, Ace seems to be living up to the nickname his parents gave him. Now the other parents at the races have given Ace a new nickname:
“That’s what you call the first one to make it around the first corner,” explained Shannon. “And it’s always Ace.”
If you would like to see some video of Ace racing, log onto YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/Enloe418?feature=mhee.