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Pair of young local riders to compete at Amateur National Motocross Championships

Posted: July 24, 2009 8:58 p.m.
Updated: July 25, 2009 4:55 a.m.

10-year-old Robbie Wageman of Newhall will compete at the AMA Air Nautiques Amateur National Motocross Championships from Aug. 1-8 at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

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Two local motocross riders can already claim to be among the best in the world.

Robbie Wageman and Cody Eaton will compete at the 28th annual American Motorcyclist Association’s Air Nautiques Amateur National Motocross Championship, taking place from Aug. 1-8 at the ranch belonging to country music legend Loretta Lynn in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

The catch is that Wageman is 10 years old and Eaton is 9.

An estimated 20,000 riders attempted to qualify for one of 1,386 positions, spanning 33 age groups from 4-year-olds and younger to 50-year-olds and up.

The two friends, common in achievement, differ in style.

“Cody just wants to race,” said his mother April Eaton, of Castaic.

Robbie, on the other hand, “just wants to ride,” said his father Russ Wageman, of Newhall.

The top 42 riders from each age group will compete after advancing through a series of local and regional qualifiers.

Cody Eaton started riding when he was 2 years old, said father Tom Eaton, who bought him his first bike — an electric motorcycle from Toys ‘R’ Us.

When that wasn’t fast enough, Cody hopped on a quad, and at age 5, he started racing competitively.

“It’s his passion,” Tom said. “He races me up the stairs, to the car. He tries to drink his milk first. Everything is a competition to Cody.”

Conversely, Robbie just loves to be on a bike and isn’t driven by the competition.

In fact, seeing that the race pool for the first local qualifier in March appeared thin, Robbie’s father Russ Wageman said had to be coaxed into competing.

It was the last time Robbie needed any extra encouragement.

The contrast between the two riders even extends to their perspective of the Amateur National Motocross Championship.

“He knows a lot of pros win the Loretta Lynn and go on to be pros,” said April. “It is all he’s been talking about for about nine months.”

Meanwhile, Robbie is still coming to terms with the scope of the event.

But that will soon be remedied.

“I think he will when he pulls into the facility,” said Russ Wageman.

Robbie will compete in the stock motos for 7-to-9-year olds alongside Cody, who will also be competing in modifieds for 7-to-11-year olds.

Cody advanced to the championship out of the Northwest qualifier in Washougal, Wash., while Robbie comes out of the Southwest regional held at Glen Helen Raceway at San Bernardino.

The event is structured in three 20-minute motos, or racing sessions. Points are assessed for the riders’ performance in each moto, meaning that a competitor can do poorly in one session, but still come out with the championship.

Nerve-racking for some, the boys do not seem phased by the potential dangers associated with racing motorcycles.

The two young racers even breezed through the notion.

“Go fast and not fall,” Cody said casually about his goals.

Though different, Robbie’s response was equally poignant.

“Riding and having fun. Trying my hardest,” he said.

For the parents, the fear may be more prominent but it’s also pushed aside.

“It is one of those things you know is out there, but you don’t think about it,” said Russ Wageman. “I just pray they come back safe.”

Russ Wageman raced professionally from 1982-1991, something that both Robbie and Cody said they want to do one day.

Just the thought of it brings smiles to their faces.

The two boys first met about three years ago, the families estimated, at the Los Angeles County Raceway in Palmdale.

The friendship continued to grow as the Eatons visited the Wageman’s store Pit Pro Cycle, a racing supply store in Newhall which serves as a sponsor for both boys.

Both families said they have had to sacrifice a lot — both time and money.

Family is family and both the Eatons and the Wagemans are happy to do whatever it takes to make sure their sons succeed.

But perhaps the true story here is that family in the world of motocross extends beyond the nuclear.

Ask both families and they will tell you the same.

They are all family.

The proof lies with Robbie and Cody.

What began as a friendship is turning into a brotherhood born on the track.


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