Liam Ponsonby just turned 7. He’s been riding a motorcycle for about a year, but he’s familiar with the mini machine and the tracks he competes on.
Forget the possibility of reaching the handlebars. Ponsonby is aiming for the championships.
Ponsonby, entering sophomore grade at Norwin’s Stewartsville Elementary, qualified for the American Motorcycle Association National Amateur Motocross Championship, formerly known as the “Loretta Lynn” Championship, Aug. 2-7 at the family ranch. of Loretta Lynn in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
Only 42 young competitors from Ponsonby’s Mini Electric 4-6 age class came forward to take part in the race, so it’s quite an achievement for the local driver.
“I would put that down to him being an extremely technical rider,” said Liam’s mother Paige. “He listens to his coaches and carefully applies their technique to his riding. He and his dad always ride new tracks before he rides on them, so he can figure out the jumps, turns, and ruts before he rides.
Ponsonby, who knew more about throttle control than his ABCs when he could walk, is in love with dirt bike racing. He enjoys watching online videos of accomplished motocrosser Haiden Deegan, who at age 10 was the youngest athlete to perform a backflip on a dirt bike.
Deegan is now 14 and continues to perform on two wheels.
Ponsonby went through local and regional qualifying to qualify for national championships. He had to finish in the top nine of the first and in the top six of the second.
He placed fifth at the Mid East Regional at BriarCliff MX in Nashport, Ohio.
“Liam has been interested in anything that has wheels since he could walk,” Paige Ponsonby said. “He started on a Strider balance bike at 18 months and hasn’t left the wheels since. He moved on to a regular pedal bike and then a Stacyc mini e-bike.
Ponsonby once rode a Honda CRF50 pit bike—with training wheels—when he was 3 years old. At age 5, he was riding a KTM 50 Jr. and started racing soon after.
Like any parent, Paige Ponsonby has safety concerns watching her son embark on climbs and take tight turns on dirt roads.
She trusts her trainers, Mike Jones and Steve Roman, who run Jones and Roman MX at Butler.
“The coaches were a huge help in teaching Liam how to run safely,” she said. “We also make sure that Liam wears the correct gear every time he rides, including not only a helmet, but also a chest protector, knee pads and dirt bike boots. His bike is checked before and after each race by his father to make sure there are no mechanical problems.
David Ponsonby, Liam’s father, used to watch ‘Mad Mike Jones’ compete on TV at the X Games. Jones is now one of his son’s coaches.
The Ponsonbys love motocross as a family.
“We’ve met so many great families and Liam has made so many friends at the races,” Paige said. “Motocross has become our community, and we are grateful for all the memories and experiences it has brought to our family.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .