Six-year-old races to a fourth-place finish in the pee-wee class at Buchanan, Mich. — proud papa there to take it all in
ANAHEIM, Calif., (Oct. 21, 2003) — It was a scene familiar with our industry: A dad watching his son race for the first time. Helping him get ready in the pits, giving him advice on the starting line, running across the track to help him up when he falls. Only thing different last weekend at Red Bud was that the dad is one of the greatest dirt bike riders of all time.
Mike LaRocco’s son Ryder, six, competed in his first official race ever on a crisp fall day at the legendary southern Michigan motocross facility. Aboard the No. 5 replica Honda mini cycle, decaled up to look just like his dad’s Amsoil/Factory Connection/Honda, Ryder raced to two fourth-place finishes on the pee-wee track, surviving a couple get-offs and nearly making the podium in the first moto.
“I was in third, mom,” Ryder said to his mom, Elizabeth, following the first moto.
“I don’t think the scorers saw it that way, honey,” Elizabeth said back to Ryder, who’d sat down into the dirt to play with some other kids and their Hot Wheels motocross bikes. So no favoritism for Ryder from the promoters even at the track with the famous jump in the background named after his dad!
Through it all Mike LaRocco was taking in the historic moments with the cool, calm demeanor that has been his trademark over the years. Though inside you had to wonder if he was going wild.
“Ryder really just started riding more seriously this summer,” said Mike. “When I was home (in Indiana) we’d ride on my mini bike track and he improved a lot in the last few months, enough so that we thought Red Bud’s Grass Race would be a good opportunity for him to try racing for the first time. So I was pretty much both nervous and excited at the same time.”
Said Elizabeth: “I was more interested in watching Mike’s reaction to Ryder racing that watching Ryder race himself! I’m glad we got it on video,” she added, looking at the video that her mom shot of the race.
Ryder was happy with his efforts. Like most kids he spent the entire day in his O’Neal motocross gear, even riding around on his BMX bike with his knee-high MX boots on. “Mom! What time do I get to race again?,” he shouted out between bites of a peanut butter sandwich between motos.
Also in attendance were Ryder’s grandma and grandpa, Mae and “Big Mike” LaRocco. Ryder got a big hug from his proud grandpa after the race, while grandma sat down in the dirt and played ‘Hot Wheels’ with Ryder and his friends. Said Mae smiling: “It’s what grandmas do.”
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