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St. Clairsville youth headed to Las Vegas for KTM championship

T-L Photo/KIM NORTH ST. CLAIRSVILLE’S Carter Gray is making quite a name for himself as a young SuperCross racer. He recently qualified for the KTM Championships in Las Vegas later this year by winning a KTM Challenge at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. He is pictured with his trophy from that event and some of his other awards.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Carter Gray is headed to Las Vegas. He just doesn’t know when.

By virtue of his win recently during the KTM Junior Racing SuperCross at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., the 8-year-old Gray punched his ticket to KTM Championships later this summer.

“It’s exciting,” the third-grader at St. Clairsville Middle School said. “All the training is paying off. It feels good.”

However, he had to earn his way to Las Vegas by winning. He did so by going wire-to-wire.

“For a second I didn’t think I was going to get the hole shot, but the dude was fading out, so I hit my brakes and cut in behind him,” Gray explained. “Once I got the lead I wasn’t giving it up.”

The race was three laps and had 15 entrants. Gray rides a Yamaha Cobra 65.

The KTM Junior Racing program is in its 22nd year and has showcased the talents of more than 3,000 boys and girls in stadium racing venues worldwide. In addition to showcasing the young riders talents, the program also promotes riding and racing motorcycles as a family activity.

“I had to fill out a long resume, supply them with videos and pictures and, basically, just tell them about myself,” he said of the process to apply for the program. “I got selected for the challenge in Florida and won.”

Each selectee was provided a factory bike, race gear and a professional mechanic, according to Gray.

“We got to ride two practice rounds and then after the four Monster Energy professional heat races before the main event, we got to race in front of thousands of fans on the same track the pros did,” he added.

Following the race, Gray got to meet one of the top SuperCross riders of all time in Ricky Carmichael.

“That was cool,” Gray offered.

After a brief stay in Belmont County, the family will be off to Daytona Beach this weekend for the Ricky Carmichael Daytona SuperCross event. The race will be held inside the Daytona International Speedway.

“That will be neat,” he said while smiling ear to ear.

“Ever since two days after Christmas I’ve been training in Alabama and North Carolina with Driven MX Training,” Gray said. “Jason McConnell and Clay Elliott are the owners.”

However, it isn’t all fun and games as he does all of his school work online while spending most of his time traveling around the United States.

A routine day includes 30 minutes of running in the morning to keep his endurance up. He then rides the bike for most of the day before going to the gym for an hour workout. He then does his school work.

After this weekend in Daytona, the family will pack up the camper and head west to Kemp, Texas, for a MotoPlayground event called Spring-A-Ding-Ding on March 11-14. Then it’s south about an hour to Freestone, Texas, for the James Stewart Freestone Amateur on March 15-19.

The family will return home for a couple of days before heading to Birch Creek, Va., for the East Area Qualifier on March 27-28. It’s the first qualifier for the nationals in Tennessee at Loretta Lynn’s ranch. There’s another qualifier in Malvern, just outside of Carrollton, on Apr. 10-11.

Gray reached the nationals two years ago only to see bike problems leave him in 10th place.

“That’s my goal,” he said of returning to Loretta Lynn’s.

He was eighth in the first moto and and improved two spots in the second. However, the bike issues in the main event landed him in 22nd.

“We salvaged 10th two years ago, but I want a Top 3 this year,” he said.

None of this would be possible without his sponsors. The major Ohio Valley sponsor is IC Staffing/IC Care. Others are Ideal Moto, Driven MX Training, Minton Cycle, Illusive Gloves, Roost MX, Mika Metals, Route 62 MX Track, National Hardware, Flow Vision, Dunlop Tires, Total Sports Connection, Seven Gear, Slick Off Road products and DP Brakes.

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