Local reaches second motocross championship
By David Gough
Saturday, July 21, 2018
P.J. Jackson has competed in motocross racing for more than seven years and he’s only 13 years old.
It’s been a sport P.J. has participated in for more than half of his young life and it’s a sport he doesn’t ever envision quitting.
“I want to race for the rest of my life,” he said. “ I’d love being able to do that.”
P.J. has big aspirations to go pro one day and even though there’s plenty of time for him before that stage of his life comes, it’s not exactly a far-fetched dream of his.
For the second time in three years, P.J. qualified to compete in the Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn Ranch taking place this upcoming week in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
P.J. will be one of 42 competitors from all over the United States in the Mini Sr. 2 class for kids between the ages of 12 and 14. He had to finish in the top six at regionals to make it back to Tennessee.
Nerves and a muddy track, P.J. says, prevented him from doing as well as he hoped for in 2016, but he now has the experience of already being there and has set a goal for his Tuesday, Thursday and Friday races this week.
“I hope to finish in the top 15,” he said. “I’m excited to be back. It was fun (last time).”
P.J., who also plays travel baseball, dedicates as much time as he can to motocross.
The soon-to-be eighth grader at Camden Middle School has a race to attend for the vast majority of weekends throughout a calendar year. Tennessee isn’t the only long road trip the Jackson family has taken for P.J.’s races as they’ve gone as far as Pennsylvania and Florida.
His parents often pick him up from school on a Friday, drive to their destination and drop him off right at school come Monday morning. And still, with so much time dedicated to motocross with practices and competitions, P.J. still manages to be a straight A student at school.
Though, it’s not like he has much choice if he wants to continue racing.
“He needs to get straight A’s or he cannot race.” his mother April said. “He does work in the truck on the way there and back and sometimes while we’re waiting at the event.”
April Jackson and her husband Floyd have watched their son grow and mature in his racing over the years. P.J.’s work ethic has allowed him be as successful as he has been.
“He works hard for it,” April said. “He puts a lot of time into it. When other kids are off hanging out and going to football games on Friday nights and stuff like that, he’s preparing Friday evening to go to the track. He’s either racing or practicing, he gives up a lot.”
Floyd, who serves as P.J.’s mechanic, is a member of the military and currently is stationed in Patuxent River, Maryland.
But that doesn’t stop P.J.’s father from going to his son’s races. He travels the four hours back home on Friday and then will drive the length needed to get to the race.
“(My parents) mean a lot to me for everything they do,” P.J. said. “They spend a lot on me and sacrifice a lot.”
John Winslow, a former motocross racer himself and owner of Elizabeth City’s Pitt Road, has been a big key in P.J.’s success as he’s taught him everything he now knows. Most of his practicing takes place at Morgans Corner.
“I can’t thank him enough,” April said of the former Monster Energy Cup participant.
The amount of time P.J. has spent on his dirt bike has led to several injuries. He has suffered two concussions, two broken arms, broken toes, a broken leg and a broken collar bone in his seven years on the dirt track.
At one point, he couldn’t start riding again for a six-month period. That was a test of patience for him.
“I try to get back pretty quick because if it takes too long I’m going to start falling back,” P.J. said.
The injuries that can almost be considered inevitable in motocross doesn’t phase the 13-year-old. It won’t stop him from doing what he loves the most.
Even if his passion continues to make his mother nervous, April has still loved seeing him as dedicated to it as he is and is excited for his future.
“Everybody always asks me if it makes me nervous to let him race dirt bikes,” she said. “I always tell them what P.J. said. ‘Mom, if I can’t race dirt bikes, I don’t want to do anything.”