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Young rider moving up the ranks

By Leigh Anne Butler

Cooper Lemmond is spending a lot of time at a local motorcross track, Monster Mountain. The nine-year-old Tallassee boy is fueled by his passion and love of motorcross and is already devoted to the sport.

Cooper began racing less than a year ago and for him racing just seems to come naturally.

“When I was little, I always wanted a dirt bike,” Cooper stated. “My dad bought me a TT-R50 when I was about five. I kept begging him for a race bike. I said I wanted to race so he finally bought me a YZ65.”

When motorcross racing was first discussed in the Lemmond household, Cooper’s dad Chuck said, “Cooper, we’re just not really motorcross kind of people.”

Chuck laughed when he told Cooper’s response, “Well, I am.”

Tallassee is home to Monster Mountain, which is known as one of the top motorcross racing facilities in the country. Cooper participated in Monster Mountain’s training academy where Kendall Mason helped train Cooper.

“He did some training with Kendall,” Chuck said, “and he just fit right in. It felt like he’d been there forever.

“We signed (Cooper) up for mini majors with the thought that we’d just get him in the beginner racing class. Our goal was to try and just get his feet wet. Little did we know he would line up with 40 guys on his first gate he ever took off on. It was a little bit scary for us, but Cooper never batted an eye. He took off on the gate and everything was good. He shot out of there and we were just like, wow! He went down in the first turn but got back up and fought his way back and finished seventh in that group.”

Cooper with (from left): Kendall Mason, Keith Kingsfield and dad Chuck

“Lining up at the gate and hitting jumps are my favorite things about racing,” Cooper said.

“We’ve talked about motorcross and that it is a tough-man’s sport,” Chuck elaborated. “We realize what we’re up against but there are a lot of things kids can get hurt at and we feel like if we train him right and we do the right things, and we’re enjoying it, we’re in it for the right reasons. Our goal is to give him the opportunity to do what he wants to do.”

Cooper’s trainer Kendall Mason, who started racing in 1997 added, “I started out in the same shoes Cooper is in. It’s a great thing because I can relate to a lot of these kids. If I can pour into these young riders like Cooper, I think it will not only grow the sport, but it will make him a better person off the bike as well.”

“Cooper has a very rare health condition related to his ear,” Chuck added. “We’ve spent weeks at a time at Children’s Hospital in Atlanta. Cooper can’t play football or wrestle like other kids so motorcross has been a sport for him and he really loves it.”

Keith Kingsfield, owner of Monster Mountain is excited about the things happening at the track.

“Things are growing, races are getting bigger, and our training academy is growing and is definitely on the upswing,” Kingfield added.

“Last year one of the country’s biggest area qualifying races was here at Monster Mountain. On big races, we average about 2,000 spectators that come through the gate. Those spectators are here for sometimes four days, so they are in town hanging out with the local businesses.”

Monster Mountain prides itself on the tracks offered to riders but also on the experience for spectators.

“People hear the name Monster Mountain, and they know what the track is and the reputation the track has,” Kingfield elaborated. “It has spectacular dirt and amazing elevation, two things that are really big in motorcross. Monster Mountain comes with good viewing for spectators because the track has this down, inside elevation. Everybody on the outside of the track gets to see the race and gets to see all the action that is going on.”

The next race slated for the Tallassee motorcross track is the area qualifier on March 30-31.

“This is the first step to get to the amateur national championship,” Kingfield said. “Riders coming in from around the country to get to the regional race must qualify at this area race. We’d love to have more folks from Tallassee come out and see what it’s all about and see kids like Cooper and watch their progress.”

Lemmond concluded, “We have loved motorcross but mainly we have loved the opportunity that Monster Mountain has brought. They give way more than they get. We can’t thank them enough and would like to invite people to just come see. Just come watch.” For more information on Monster Mountain, you can visit their Facebook page or contact them at ride@monstermx.com. The track is located at 3170 Burt Mill Road in Tallassee.