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Local motocross racer finishes year off strong

Eight-year-old participates in National Championship

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Eight-year-old Austin Meads of Elizabeth City has competed in motocross events throughout the country for three years.

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By David Gough
Sports Writer

Saturday, December 8, 2018

At just eight years old, Austin Meads of Elizabeth City recently finished off yet another successful year on his dirt bike.

He participated in the THOR Winter Olympics National Championship at Gatorback Cycle Park in Newberry, Florida.

There, he competed in three motocross events and three supercross events the weekend before Thanksgiving.

His best result was a 15th place finish out of 80 competitors in the 51cc category of dirt bikes for kids between the ages of four and eight. He also finished 19th overall out of 69 racers in another event.

Austin’s mother Lorrie said that he was hoping for top ten finishes, but the competition was ‘very stiff.’ The Winter Olympics consisted of about 3,800 racers who registered to be there, with many coming from Europe, Africa, South America and Australia.

But Austin is no stranger to being in events with so many people with many different backgrounds.

“I do it so much, it feels normal,” he said.

The THOR Winter Olympics National Championship capped off a calendar year in which Austin came home with his fair share of hardware. It’s nothing new either as he’s been successful since he started racing three years ago.

Back in March, Austin participated in his biggest supercross event yet. He raced in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, which can have a capacity crowd up to 70,000 and is home to the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

Austin competed in the KTM Junior Supercross event and reached the podium with a third-place finish.

The event was also broadcasted on NBC Sports.

“It was amazing. It was so exciting and unforgettable,” Lorrie said of Austin performing in front of as big a crowd as Lucas Oil Stadium.

“It’s fun. I was excited,” Austin added, saying he wasn’t nervous.

“That’s one of the good things about Austin. He doesn’t get nervous,” Lorrie added. “The crowds don’t bother him. I didn’t know how that was going to go.”

Austin also got to meet professional motocross racers while he was there. He met Aaron Plessinger, Zach Osborne and North Carolina’s own Cooper Webb.

Webb is Austin’s favorite racer, even though he mentioned that Webb isn’t usually the fastest.

“Just meeting the pros and them giving him a fist bump or saying ‘Good job, buddy’ or a You can do it,’ that was really cool for Austin,” Lorrie said.

Trey Canard, another pro racer who just retired last year, is another dirt biker who’s been at the top of the sport that Austin has interacted with. Canard, however, has interacted with Austin more than the others as he has trained him on various weekends.

Lorrie noted that it meant a lot to Austin to be trained by him because they’ve watched him on television.

Still, Austin doesn’t have a full trainer just yet, but it’s something the Meads are looking for in the future.

“Going to a training facility regularly is on the horizon, as soon as we win the lottery,” Lorrie said with a laugh.

For now, it’s been Austin’s dad who has acted as his full-time trainer and he’s also the reason Austin got on a dirt bike in the first place.

Ray Meads Jr. has been into motorsports his entire life and he raced a little when he was younger as well. When Austin was just three, Ray got him his first dirt bike; One that came with training wheels.

“Ray puts in countless hours working on the bikes,” Lorrie said. “Just keeping them in tip-top shape and thankfully he’s an excellent and meticulous mechanic. So he really keeps Austin in good shape, regarding the bikes and making sure he has the proper safety equipment.”

It was at five years old — in 2016 — that Austin started his first full year racing. In that year, Austin was already good enough to make the Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynch Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

Lorrie called it his most important accomplishment as Austin was one of only 40 racers throughout the country in his classification to earn a chance at the event. Austin then was able to reach the podium twice in Hurricane Mills in 2017.

To round out the success Austin has put together this year, he claimed three different state championship titles in South Carolina and Maryland.

He’s won several state titles in his three years of racing already and was crowned District 13 champion for two different classes in 2016. District 13 is comprised of about six different tracks in North Carolina and Virginia.

Austin’s goal for 2019 is to take gold at Loretta Lynch. Beyond that, however, he has bigger goals.

“He wants to go pro, so we’re making sure he has every opportunity that’s within our means,” Lorrie said.

“Yeah, I think I’m going to do it my whole life,” the eight year old added.

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