By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
SUNBURY -- For a motocross rider, a holeshot -- the ability for a rider to be the first to get to the narrow part of the first corner of a moto -- can mean the difference between winning and getting caught up in an opening-lap crash.
For a mother, it can be the most gut-wrenching moment of a race.
Jude Smerlick, 7, of Sunbury, is getting to be a pro at making the holeshot work to his advantage.
The soon-to-be second grader at Oaklyn Elementary school is at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete in the 32nd annual Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motorcross Championships which runs from this coming Monday through Saturday.
It's his first-ever appearance at the Amateur Nationals.
Smerlick, who has won many trophies in his first three seasons of racing motocross, started his fourth season (2013) by winning his age group (4-6) at Motorama in Harrisburg. He won two 2012 District 6 championships and the Ultra Series Championship at Evansville Motocross Park in Evansville, his home track, last year.
To get to Loretta Lynn's Ranch, Smerlick won a regional qualifier in Ohio to be one of 1,146 riders to qualify for a trip to Hurricane Mills.
It's the 32nd annual event that has given riders in the past, including the likes of Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana (racing NASCAR now) and Jeremy McGrath, a push into the national spotlight.
"I like doing the rhythm sections," he said of his favorite part of racing. "I also like the table tops."
The family has had just two weekends off this year while racing from Florida to Michigan and everywhere in between.
They are already looking toward the 2014 season, starting with the indoor arena cross circuit.
"My friends at school think its pretty neat that I race," Smerlick said. "The kids in my class wished me good luck when I left for regionals."