Benton qualifies for amateur national championship
by Jason Greenberg
Jul 20, 2014 | 1249 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Taylor H. Benton, a dirt bike racer and sophomore at Woodland High School, has already racked up the accomplishments at just 15 years old.

Benton has won the Alabama SCCA Championship three times, and Mississipi Arenacross Championship twice, among other notable races.

However, Benton will race for his biggest accomplishment yet on July 27 when he takes part in the largest amateur motocross race in the world, the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Tennessee.

“The Amateur Nationals at Loretta Lynn’s is the event every motocross racer in the country wants to compete in,” Event Director Tim Cotter said. “A win at the Amateur Nationals gives a rider instant national notoriety and can serve as a springboard to a lucrative professional motocross career.”

Benton took on over 20,000 hopefuls from across America to earn one of just 1,446 qualifying positions.

“I’ve been training for the last six or seven months, just trying to get my physical shape up,” Benton said of his prospects in the race. “I feel like we can do pretty good. Top 10 is the goal. Top five would be great.”

Most of America’s top professional motocrossers, including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath, have won the AMA Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn’s.

The race is so prestigious that in 2012 it became part of the Red Bull Signature Series, airing race coverage on NBC for the first time ever. In 2013, the coverage of the Red Bull Signature Series broadcast LIVE coverage from Loretta Lynn’s on NBC for the first time ever. In 2014, the racing will be streamed live online at RacerTV.com.

Benton qualified for the Loretta Lynn National by finishing sixth at his regional qualifier in Indiana in early June.

“I was expecting it because we’ve been trying for a long time. We knew I had the speed, it was just a matter of having luck on our side,” he said of the qualifier. “I got a good start in my motos and I just stayed up top and tried to stay consistent. It put me in a good spot to qualify and I did.”

Benton has been racing since he was 4 years old and has high aspirations in the sport.

“I definitely want to turn pro,” he said. “That’s the goal in the long run.”

Benton is working hard to accomplish his goals and meets with a personal trainer twice a week in addition to working with former professional dirt bike rider Shae Bentley.

“I want to try to do well at the nationals and see if I can get the championships there,” Benton said. “I just have to work on my stamina some. I think we’re pretty good now. I think we’re ready to go.”

Benton went into the area qualifiers in Alabama in May having not raced since March of 2013 after sustaining an injury.

“I broke my collarbone and ripped my shoulder blade in half. My first race back was the area [qualifier],” Benton said. “It was hard because it was the same track and I was worried that I hadn’t raced in so long. I’m definitely more comfortable now. I’m feeling good about everything. I was nervous when I first got on, but that first race, it goes away as soon as that gate drops.”

Benton has suffered 12 broken bones in his young racing career.

“Motocross is a very dangerous sport,” he said. “Over the years, it just happens.”

Despite the risk of injury, Benton continues to race. He says he has done 10-12 “national caliber races” this year.

“It’s the only thing I feel free at and do what I want.”