Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hudson native riding to success in motocross

DADE CITY — Motocross is a sport that requires a lot of personal and physical sacrifice to attain success. R.J. Hampshire has given plenty of both.

The former Fivay High School third baseman has been taking this extreme sport as seriously as a full-time job for the past year. He enrolled in virtual school as he prepares to graduate, gave up his baseball career and took on a four-day-a-week training regiment that has him riding his bike more than any other time in his life.

"I rode a lot when I was younger, but I took baseball pretty seriously too," Hampshire said. "Over the last year, though, I've quit baseball and I'm focusing on riding. I ride from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. almost every day and race on the weekends. I've had a lot of great support from my family, my mechanics and friends. That's been the key to my success this year."

The 17-year old has already suffered an extensive list of injuries, from broken wrists to a lacerated liver and punctured kidney. But despite all the pain, Hampshire continuously returns to the seat of his bike stronger than before.

"From ages 10-15, it seemed like he was hurt every year," R.J.'s father, Ricky Hampshire said. "After one crash at Dade City, he spent 17 days in the ICU. He's broken his femur and his collarbone, too. Most young guys in this sport slow down after they get hurt like that, but not R.J., he comes back faster each time. He's a tough kid."

Now the sacrifices are paying off. After winning the Amateur Championship at the Monster Cup in Las Vegas on Oct. 18, Hampshire is now a recognized name on the motocross circuit. That recognition can lead to dream sponsorships, professional status and the responsibility to train at the highest level, something that Hampshire relishes.

"I didn't expect to win at Monster Cup, but to go out there and do it front of 60,000 people was a great feeling," he said. "I'm flying out to California to do some testing and then I get my pro bikes from my new sponsor Amsoil Factory Connection Geico Honda.

"I've got the amateur nationals next year and after that I could make my pro debut, but right now I'm just happy to be making the most of this opportunity."

If he doesn't make his pro debut, Hampshire will prepare for the Loretta Lynn Amateur Motocross Championships in August and attempt to make the transition after that.

He is traveling to race with his new team at Geico Honda in the coming weeks and will keep busy in between trips with his usual regiment of races at Dade City Motocross. He's also working with a new coach, Timmy Ferry, which is helping the fundamentals of his riding immensely.

"I think the sky is the limit for this kid," Ferry said. "He really wants to learn and he wants to go fast. What's different about him is that when you ask him to do something new, he picks up on it really fast. With his work ethic and natural athletic ability, it's up to him how far he goes."

For now, the Hudson native is just happy to be doing what he loves.

"It's been an unbelievable thing to have in my life," Hampshire said. "Every day I wake up with a smile on my face and I'm pumped to get on my dirt bike. I'm putting a lot of time in, I've got a good coach and my fitness is good, so there is no reason I shouldn't be winning championships."

Hudson native riding to success in motocross 12/10/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 6:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. College basketball scandal dips into Tampa Bay


    Secret recordings. Undercover agents. Bribes. Federal indictments. College basketball's latest national scandal into the unsavory methods that coaches, agents and shoe company representatives use to make inroads with elite high school prospects has it all — including connections to Tampa Bay.

    In this March 15, 2012, file photo, San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland, left, talks during NCAA college basketball practice in Columbus, Ohio. Bland was identified in court papers, and is among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File]
  2. Lightning's Brayden Point could be perfect fit alongside Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov

    Lightning Strikes

    SUNRISE — Brayden Point ended last season as the Lightning's No. 1 center, thrust into the role as a rookie due to injuries.

    Lightning center Brayden Point (21) advances the puck through the neutral zone during Friday's preseason game against the Nashville Predators. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. For starters: Rays at Yankees, with Blake Snell starting, Wilson Ramos cashing in


    UPDATE, 5:59 p.m.: The Rays are officially eliminated from the playoff race with their next loss or the Twins next win. ... Both LHP Xavier Cedeno and 3B coach Charlie Montoyo got word that their familes in Puerto Rico were safe and their homes withstood the hurricane. ... Ramos said he wasn't focused on the …

    Tonight marks Wilson Ramos' 55th start of the season.
  4. Cannon Fodder podcast: Considering Gerald McCoy's comments


    Greg Auman talks about Gerald McCoy's comments — both about fan criticism online and Donald Trump — in the latest episode of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Gerald McCoy, front, said Monday that he would love to have a conversation with any of the fans who take to social media to criticize him and his Bucs teammates. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  5. Alex Volkov with a top-six showcase for Lightning


    Alex Volkov entered Lightning camp a bit of an unknown, the second-round pick from Russia in his first NHL camp.

    Alex Volkov (79) works to stop Florida Panthers center Denis Malgin (62) during the second period of Sunday's game in Tampa.