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Junior motocross involves entire Johnstone family

by Pegi Webster, Special to the R-C

Last year, Brandon Johnstone won the Nevada State Motocross Championship in the junior class on his dirt bike, a Honda CR125.

A win like that takes a lot of practice. Not one to rest on his laurels, he’s looking ahead to the future.

“I hope to become pro by the time I’m 16,” Brandon, 15, says. “I feel I have a good chance.”

The championship win bumped Brandon up to the intermediate class, and he spends about eight hours on weekends and two hours during the week practicing. He has three dirt bikes, all Hondas.

Weekends are busy times for Brandon and his family. Weekdays, too, for that matter.

Brandon practices near where he lives in the Gardnerville Ranchos, and his mom, Lena, takes him to Carson City to practice at the Silver State track. Lena thinks there are enough people interested in the sport to support an actual track in Gardnerville.

“If somebody built a track here, they could make some money.” she says. “(Motocross) is so popular – it’s so big. There are several local pros here. Every parent whose kid is into motocross would like to see somewhere for the kids to ride.”

Brandon started riding trail bikes at the tender age of 5, receiving a “real” bike when he was 12. He’s been racing competitively since age 13, traveling to races all over Nevada and California, often competing against adults. He’s had five wins, competing with up to 25 other riders in each class. The time-consuming sport is a family affair.

“We go about every other weekend. It’s all fun, seeing my friends, competing. Winning is fun,” says Brandon.

Dad Dale is Brandon’s mechanic.

“I try to watch and learn, but its going to take awhile do that,” Brandon says.

His mother and Brandon’s 10-year old brother, Bryson, who’s just getting started in the sport, function as the logistics, transportation and cheering department of Brandon’s road show.

When Dad’s not working as pit crew, he’s Brandon’s official photographer. But he’s always Brandon’s dad first.

“The whole time Dale is videotaping, the camera is shaking,” Lena says with a laugh. “Sometimes we can’t even take pictures, he’s going by so fast.”

Time is not the only thing invested in Brandon’s passion. The extreme sport of motocross is not inexpensive.

“Financially, it affects us big time,” says Lena. “There’s gas, food, lodging, entry and spectator fees.”

Even mom and dad can’t get in to watch for free.

“We’re constantly having to buy new tires, clothing, replace a broken chest protector, a broken helmet. It’s a constant battle,” she says.

Not to mention the incidentals, like hospital bills.

“He did go to the hospital with a concussion once,” Lena says. “Fortunately, he’s pretty cautious, not crazy. That’s a blessing.”

Brandon has a little spare time when he’s not practicing with his dirt bike. He maintains a 4.0 grade point average, has run cross-country track, and wants to play football. He played 7th and 8th grade basketball and is active with Iron Tigers weight training.

“Before college, my goal is to make it to a Supercross main event. But I have to qualify,” Brandon says.

He hasn’t decided his major yet, but knows college is in his future.

“You can only ride dirt bikes for so long,” Brandon says. “You have to have a backup.”

To help alleviate costs, Brandon seeks sponsorships. Last year, his sponsors were Xtreme Motor Sports of Gardnerville and Michael’s Cycles in Carson City. He’s hoping for more sponsorships this year.