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A moto-vated senior

Del Oro High’s Becker puts passion for motocross into senior project
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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“MX 4EVR.” Jason Becker’s passion for racing motocross is evident in the specialty license plate on his Toyota Tacoma. He hoped he’d be able to incorporate his sport into his senior project at Del Oro High. “I wanted to do something with motocross because it’s what I’ve known my entire life,” Becker said. “I was originally going to do a motocross school, because a race is so hard to put on.” With the help of mentor Todd Kelly, Alpine Program Director for non-profit Auburn Ski Club, the Becker planned, promoted and put on the Elevation Gran Prix last weekend at Boreal Mountain Resort. After only 25 riders registered online, Becker figured he’d be happy to have 75 more show up the day of the event. The race generated more than 300 entries from across the West Coast and all $9,000 raised went to the ski club. “We had no idea how many would show up,” the Newcastle 17-year-old said. Kelly and Auburn Ski Club tried to put on a mountain bike race on the Boreal slopes last year. “We had four people register for it and one person show up,” he said. “It fell right on its face after tons of promotion. The weather probably didn’t help.” With virtually all of the early-October snow melted, the 4.5-mile course utilizing Boreal’s Sunset ski run and a large portion of the resort’s cross country Nordic trails was a big hit with area regulars last weekend. Sixteen motocross professionals came out to join the spectators. “We put it online and made phone calls to everybody in every club we knew,” Kelly said. “We were pretty certain, worst case it’d be a really intimate event, a flop with 40 people. It was huge for really three or four days of advertising. It was awesome. Because the motocross world is really small and very supportive, they just rallied around it.” Becker, an up-and-coming intermediate racer himself, knew Kelly through the motocross community. Becker got in touch with Murray Miller, the promoter of mega event Mammoth Motocross. “He came up Friday and we went over tons of stuff,” Becker said. “I told him what I had planned and he told me what I was missing.” Becker used the resort’s P.A. system and ski radios to coordinate during the event’s five races. “It was really like the perfect place to do it because we had all the equipment we needed,” he said. American Motorcycle Association officials offered Becker $3,000 up front plus a share of the entry proceeds before the event’s first race. “Promoters already want to buy the rights to the event for next year and sanction it,” Becker said. “I had no idea it was going to be that big. We want to do at least as good as we did this year before we make a decision. It was really eye opening. This race will always be one to help out the ski club. I hope we can develop this into a once-a-year deal.” Kelly said a decision will be made sometime in the future. “We’re pretty certain that it’s a do-again,” said Kelly, whose ski club is shooting to raise $50,000 this year. “We had all the alpine coaches out helping, whether with the flags out on the course or flipping burgers. It’ll be up to the committee, but the dirt’s just sitting there. It’s kind of a no-brainer. It was an easy race to hold.” Becker started racing at age 6 and got serious about the sport in middle school. He hopes to try racing professionally before earning a college degree. Becker has won Hangtown and other local events and rides as many as five days a week. “I’ve missed out on a lot of things I wish I had been able to experience because of motocross,” he said. “I’ve missed homecomings. It’s a sacrifice I’ve made, to not go out Friday and Saturday nights because you have to be up early to ride, but I love it.”