Motorcycles rush by, stirring up dust.
Over the roar of the engines, the cheering fans can barely be heard.
As the racers pass the finish line, they begin to jump off of their bikes. As one of the racers takes off his helmet… wait, this kid is only fifteen?! This young racer is Sophomore Marshall Ballard, and he has an incredibly exciting hobby.
Ballard has had a bike since he was seven, but didn’t start racing competitively until he was almost 13. His grandfather raced motorcycles when his mother was a kid, and his parents both ride for fun.
According to Ballard, he started racing when his “parents took him to the track and the rest is history.”
After racing for so long, his talent and skill for the sport is more than obvious.
“Marshall started winning some of the smaller races early on, but had some significant recognition winning the AMA State Championship for his age group and his class in 2016 and the AMA District 41 Series in 2017. He moved up to ‘big bikes’ this year competing in some really tough classes and has already taken home some 1st Place trophies at different local tracks,” said Marshall’s mother, Julianna Viertel.
Marshall has become successful by working with pro trainers, attending training camps and attending weekly competitions.
When on the bike, apparently there is no feeling like it.
“It is so weird, I’m just on autopilot… there’s just so much adrenaline,” said Ballard. “When I get off the bike, my hands are shaking.”
Although not participating in a GPA sport, Ballard still shows his school spirit by putting stickers of the school logo on his bike, along with his sponsorships’ stickers.
Ballard is supported by Lone Star Husqvarna, GoPro, and several smaller sponsors, which provide him with gear and money to finance his future races.
The gear that this “superhuman” uses consists of Shot Racing Gear, Alpine Stars, a Bell Helmet, Scott Goggles, and Fox.
But even with the track record that he has earned, he still has had some accidents, resulting in injuries and broken bikes. Although this sport is safer than Football, a few times over his freshman year, he came into school with scrapes, cuts, and burns on his body. Once, he even came in with a broken leg to a Christmas party! (he was then referred to as Tiny Tim the rest of the night)
“I am worried every minute that he is on the track. He has been hurt a few times, but it seems to come with the sport,” said his mother, when asked about Marshall’s racing.
In January, Ballard broke his collar bone. He said that he never worries about accidents before races, but they still happen.
Physical injuries are not the only accidents that happen in these races. He has to keep his bike in peak shape and replace parts regularly to stay on the leaderboard. He has several bikes, and they all require regular maintenance.
Marshall loves this sport, and has no plans of stopping anytime soon. He may even go on to be a professional someday, but only time will tell.