Josh Ashcraft and Talan Hooper couldn’t be more excited.
The Powell teenagers have been given the Friday evening time slot at the Park County Fair for their mixed motocross …
Josh Ashcraft and Talan Hooper couldn’t be more excited.
The Powell teenagers have been given the Friday evening time slot at the Park County Fair for their mixed motocross event.
Two years ago, Ashcraft and Hooper put together a motocross race to benefit their friend Ethan Asher, who was seriously injured in a car accident.
“We were both buddies with Ethan [Asher],” Hooper said, referring to himself and Ashcraft. “We were really eager to get into racing, so we decided to put on a race for him.”
In the span of a month, they gathered donations from local businesses, designed a track themselves, and put together an event that raised over $6,000 for the Asher family.
Last year, the pandemic shut down most public events, but this year the teens have a chance to do it bigger, better and faster than they’ve ever done.
“I’m ready to race,” Hooper said.
Ashcraft is just as eager. On a recent evening after work — both teens work full-time jobs through the summer — he launched his bike up one of the jumps on the track for this year’s race. He came crashing down, and the bike fell on its side. Ashcraft then got up and brushed off the dirt like it’s nothing.
“This is the world of motocross, man. If you ain’t wrecking, you ain’t riding,” said Mike Hooper, Talan’s dad.
The then-14-year-olds had a number of adults offer guidance for their event planning in 2019. When Talan Hooper and Ashcraft rushed to put on that fundraiser, it was the adults who explained, for example, that they needed insurance.
“That first year, we as parents had to take more control and tell them what to do,” said Mike Hooper. “They did a great job, and when something needed to be done, they were on top of it. Now they’re older, and they have a lot more experience and knowledge.”
So this year, the adults are stepping back more and letting the teens call the shots.
“The two boys are the founders, and they’re the ones driving this,” Mike Hooper said.
Ethan Asher’s parents, Andy and Tiffani Asher, helped the boys incorporate as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization under the name Race 4 Recovery, which has the slogan “No one rides alone.”
The teens “like to race and help people out, and that’s what Race 4 Recovery is all about,” said Dustin Short, who serves on the Race 4 Recovery board.
The nonprofit is donating the proceeds from this year’s race to Stephanie Warren, a Powell Middle School teacher who was diagnosed with breast cancer in December.
There are some donated prizes for the winners of the race, but no prize money.
“Everybody does it for fun. Racing for money isn’t how we do things,” said Short.
Besides raising money to help those in the community who need it, Ashcraft and Hooper are trying to promote the motocross sport in Powell. They said there was a time it was much more popular, but it’s fallen away considerably.
“It’s slowly dying out, and we’re hoping to bring that back,” Ashcraft said.
They hope to make Race 4 Recovery events a regular thing in Powell throughout the year, and they will continue to use the races to raise funds for those in need.
Mike Hooper pointed out that, at 16 years old, it’s hard to know where the kids will go in the future, but they’re set up well to keep holding motocross events for as long as they want.
Engineering a race
Just as they did in 2019, the boys are designing the track for this year’s event at the Park County Fairgrounds.
“The first time we did it, we drew our dream track and just kind of jammed it together,” Talan Hooper explained. “This year, we looked at our old track and went off of the criticism we got from that, to try to make it better this year.”
What they ended up with is a mix of everything. They have some better jumps. They have more obstacles as well, for those riders who like the challenge of endurocross. They also have some supercross elements incorporated into the design.
“Supercross requires more technique and skill,” Josh Ashcraft explained, for those who aren’t familiar with the different types of tracks. “It’s really hard, because if you don’t get the right rhythm coming out of a corner and you miss a jump, that whole line of jumps is messed up. And then you’ll lose your position.”
In engineering the track, they had to contend with a few other challenges than just making the best track for the varying preferences of the competitors. There are other fair events in the arena, including pig mud wrestling and a ninja skills competition. So, they had to make sure semi-trucks could get around their track. Then they have to tear it all down for the demolition derby on Saturday.
“We want to give a big thanks to our parents and the board,” Talan Hooper said.
The teens also expressed their appreciation for the sponsors and donors to Race 4 Recovery.
Those who wish to donate can contact Hooper and Ashcraft through their Facebook page. They are also selling T-shirts and hats, which can be purchased at DSE Fireworks in Powell, or through the Facebook page.
Competitors can register the day of the event, Friday, July 30, from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Enter through the Hamilton Street gate. Registration is $20 for one class, and $10 each additional class. Heat races begin at 10 a.m. All riders must have appropriate riding gear to compete, including a helmet, riding boots, eye protection, long sleeved shirt, pants and chest protector.
For spectators, the event begins at 6 p.m., with the grandstand gates opening at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 in the grandstands or $15 for box seats.