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Taylor: Success in Hurricane

T.J. Taylor is all smiles as he poses in front of Testa Motorsports in Minden. The 15-year-old Testa rider is coming off a strong performance at the Amateur National Motocross Championship in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
Jim Grant |

Young T.J. Taylor has come a long way in just four years as a motocross racer. He has come up big in 2016, in fact, highlighted by a taste of victory at the recent Amateur National Motocross Championship in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

The 15-year-old Douglas High School sophomore sped to victory in one moto and took fourth-place overall in his 250 C junior class during the 42nd annual AMA national event, which was hosted by Loretta Lynn Ranch on Aug. 1-6. Taylor, who rides for Minden-based Testa Motorsports, also finished 15th in the 250 C Limited class.

These are significant accomplishments considering competitors from across the nation, representing 13 countries overall, were on hand for the week-long event. Taylor trailed two riders from Texas and one from South Carolina in the 250 C junior class overall, which was determined by results from three motos.

“Winning that second moto is one of my best highlights ever,” Taylor said. “That was like a childhood dream.”

It didn’t come easy, especially after the course was muddied by a torrential rainstorm. Taylor’s strategy was simple.

“I just wanted to get out to the front,” he said. “That made it easier.”

The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Taylor was out front by nearly four seconds after Lap 1 and held on the rest of the way to outdistance Brayden Lessler of Ramona, Calif., Riley Blue of Spartanburg, S.C., Kyle White of Conroe, Texas, and Caleb Weaver of Prosper, Texas.

Taylor finished 10th in the first moto and 15th in the third in a competition where consistency is critical. Weaver, Blue and White wound up as the top three overall after they each posted top-10 finishes in each of the three moto races.

Earlier this summer, Taylor enjoyed a second-place performance in Open C and 10th in the 250 C class at the prestigous Monster Energy Mammoth Mountain Motocross.

Not bad considering he really began riding at age 8 and only took up serious racing at 12. This success was made all the sweeter after going through an injury-plagued 2015 season in which he sustained a broken collarbone and broken arm.

“It’s all a big learning experience,” he said. “I’m mean, I’m super pumped now. Hopefully, I can keep it consistent, stay uninjured, and come back even better next year in a better class.”

Note: Another Testa rider, 10-year-old Parker Ross of Herald, Calif., placed fifth in the 65cc (7-11 age group) and seventh in the 65cc (10-11) Limited classes at the Loretta Lynn nationals. … Team Testa about 44 motorsports competitors who range in age from 5 to 45.