Most 8-year-olds are happy to be able to ride a bicycle, but Marshall Magnusson does so much more.
The Mohawk second grader recently became the 2012 American Motorcycle Association Dirt Track Grand Champion during competition at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill.
From Upper Sandusky, Magnusson and his brother, Myles, 9, have been racing for about three years.
Marshall won the half-mile and the short track competitions and took second in the Tourist Trophy event to earn him two national No. 1 plates, a No. 2 plate and the overall grand champion plate in the 50cc 7-8-year-old class.
In a tougher division, Myles did not fare as well, but their father, Chuck, said he is proud of both of them.
“They’re both doing really well,” he said. “Myles had a really tough class. It’s just a huge accomplishment. It’s a pretty big outfit. They’re just having fun with it and not taking it too seriously.”
The boys practice most weekends at the Triangle Motorcycle Club near Harpster or at the Sandusky Valley Riders track near Tiffin.
“I like the turns and how fast you go,” Marshall said.
Chuck used to race motorcycles, but he now rides just for fun. The boys got their start in trail riding and it progressed from there, he said.
Marshall said he has had only one significant crash when he ran into a tractor tire bumper one time, but he was not afraid to get back at the sport. His father said all of the protective gear worn makes it safe.
“At first, when they were moving up in bike sizes, I was nervous, but the more experience they get, the nervousness goes away,” said Chuck, who said his boys have developed a presence of mind that allows them to avoid crashing.
The only nervousness Marshall said he feels is for the competition he faces.
“Before the final, I get butterflies,” he said.
Myles, a third-grader, said he enjoys being in control.
“I like sliding into the turns and coming out smooth in the straights,” he said.
Marshall said his friends think it is cool and congratulate him on his accomplishments.
In addition, by traveling several hundred miles for events, the boys make friends that they see from race to race from all over the world, including Australia and England.
“There gets to be a family group of racers,” Chuck said. “They get to be friends off the track and competitors on the track, even for kids.”
Outside of school and racing, Marshall participates in baseball and football.
They are returning to action June 23 at the Pickaway County Fairgrounds in Circleville.
By LONNIE McMILLAN