Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Young motocross competitor takes the bumps, keeps on riding

BROOKSVILLE

In his helmet and padding, and riding his bike around a muddy incline, it is difficult to distinguish Seth Brown from any other competitor on the motocross circuit.

The difference between Seth and many others is he is only 12 years old. Beginning Monday, he will take part in the prestigious 31st annual Red Bull American Motorcyclist Association Amateur National Motocross Championships in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

For Seth, who dreams about winning gold medals at the X Games on ESPN one day, this is the first step toward stardom in a sport he has been passionate about for years. The ride to the top, however, hasn't been without its share of bumps.

The son of Keith and Valerie Brown of Brooksville, Seth was riding four-wheelers by age 3. He continued riding and eventually racing ATVs competitively until he was 8 before transitioning to dirt bikes.

Seth's ability in the sport was obvious almost immediately, but he was inconsistent in events he entered. With his father, a motorcycle enthusiast, working on the bike and his mother and little brother, Slade, always along for support, Seth struggled with a string of bad luck.

"He always seemed to have a mechanical problem with the bike," Valerie said. "If it wasn't that, it was a flat tire or a crash."

Seth's first tough accident happened in his own back yard early in 2012. Practicing for an upcoming competition on the family's 2 1/2 acres one evening as the sun was going down, he spilled the bike. Although he was bruised a little, he got up and seemed fine.

His mother wasn't so sure as Seth walked stiffly to the shower.

"The next thing we knew, he was being rushed to All Children's Hospital (in St. Petersburg) with a lacerated liver," Valerie said. "He was in the (intensive care unit) for a week."

Not only was Seth confined to a hospital bed and then to his own bed and homeschooling for the next couple of months, but doctors told him he couldn't ride a bike for at least six months. The news shattered him.

"When I hurt my liver, it was the worst thing I've ever gone through," he said. "I just wanted to ride again."

Once he did get his opportunity, Seth was more determined than ever. Taking a page from the film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, his motto became "If you're not first, you're last." His parents have sometimes even had to stop him from being his own harshest critic.

Nicknamed "Downtown" by his friends and competitors, Seth picked up victories in the Florida Gold Cup series in Okeechobee on Oct. 7 and then in Dade City on Oct. 13. Capturing the title in the 65 cc (ages 9-11) class both weeks, Seth's accomplishment was more impressive in Dade City because he did it while coping with the flu.

"All I could say at the time was 'Wow,' " Valerie said. "I think that is when I started to see just how good he really could be."

After that display, Seth took the Florida Winter Am series by storm, sweeping the 65 cc (10-11) and 65 cc open (7-11) classes in Dade City on Jan. 13 and winning the 65 cc open (7-11) class in Okeechobee on Jan. 19. He ended up first in the points standings for the 65 cc open (7-11) division, beating out Jackson Kinney from Orlando by 20 points.

Seth crashed in the final event of the Winter Am series in Gainesville and suffered a broken ankle. He needed two screws and was laid up at Shands at the University of Florida, where doctors told him he would need another four months off the bike to recover.

Within days, he was back in the hospital with a double concussion. Frightened at the accident-prone nature of her son, Valerie spoke with a neurologist, who eased her mind.

"The neurologist said that kids like Seth are going to do these things regardless (of their activity) because it's in their personalities," she said. "He could hurt himself playing with his friends or playing baseball the same way. He's just a risk-taker."

The small span of time before the regional event in Gainesville would leave Seth only two weeks to prepare to qualify for the nationals in Tennessee. With very little practice and training, Seth was still able to make the field at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills.

Equipped with sponsorship from BPM Racing Engines, Stellar MX Graphics, Barney's Motorcycle & Marine of Brooksville, Answer, Tucker Rocky and Dragon Race Fuel, Seth says he is ready for the AMA national championships this week. Even the knowledge that some of his heroes — like Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath — have won titles at this event doesn't seem to faze the young rider.

"I'm more excited about getting to drive up there," he said. "Once it's time to race, I just have to get a good start and make sure I don't overdrive the bike."

. Profile

Seth Brown

Age: 12

Born: April 17, 2001, Brooksville

School: Parrott Middle School

Accomplishments:

• 2013 Florida Winter Am series champion, 65 cc Open (7-11) division

• 2013 Dade City Winter Am, first place in 65 cc (10-11), first place in 65 cc Open (7-11)

• 2013 Thundercross Winter Am, first place in 65 cc Open (7-11)

• 2012 Dade City Gold Cup, first place in 65 cc (9-11)

• 2012 Okeechobee Gold Cup, first place in 65 cc (9-11)

Young motocross competitor takes the bumps, keeps on riding 07/26/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 7:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays journal: Blake Snell to rejoin rotation, Erasmo Ramirez heads to bullpen

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — LHP Blake Snell is rejoining the Rays' rotation, but the move has as much to do with helping the bullpen as it does with Snell's improvement during his time at Triple-A Durham.

    Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (30) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.
  2. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  3. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

  4. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Erasmo Ramirez is not happy about moving back to the bullpen, and can you blame him? But that's the best move for the Rays now. He can fill several roles: long man, setup man, even closer in a pinch. The Rays need to settle the bullpen, and Ramirez has proven he's capable of doing that.

  5. Rays up next: at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Today: Off

    Up next: at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, PNC Park, Pittsburgh