0212 Maddox Moretz

Maddox Moretz, an 8-year-old motocross rider from Morganton, holds his trophy after winning the KTM Junior Racing Supercross event at Petco Park in San Diego on Saturday, Feb. 2.

SAN DIEGO — Local fans of off-road racing already know the name Maddox Moretz.

With successes at area venues like Steele Creek Park, Antioch Speedway and Enola Beach, as well as on the GNCC Tour — where he was crowned the 2018 Micro 50SR class champion — Maddox is a quick riser at just 8 years old.

Another huge step came on Saturday, Feb. 2, when Maddox took the win in the KTM Junior Racing Supercross event at Petco Park in San Diego.

“Usually, California’s dry, but it rained like an inch, so it was a straight mudder,” said Dustin Moretz, who is Maddox’ father. “There were foot-deep ruts, and it was nasty. (Maddox) didn’t get a good start — he was about sixth or seventh at the first turn. But by the second turn, he was in second, and by the third turn, he was in the lead. He stayed out front and took it to the end and won.”

Maddox outlasted champions from Australia, Italy and Mexico, along with challengers from around the United States, to win the event.

Each year, KTM selects 150 youth riders from around the world to participate in its 10-race series, with 15 competitors in each event. Maddox’ GNCC title likely attracted attention which led to his invitation.

KTM supplies bikes for its races to keep everyone on an even playing field. That makes it all about the rider, Moretz said.

“So, now that (Maddox) won, he’s in the finals, which are in October at the Monster Cup in Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium,” Moretz said. “He will race all the winners — 10 races, 10 winners — it’s the winners’ shootout. And the winner gets to take home a bike.”

That’ll be a 2019 KTM 50SX, the same bike on which Maddox rode in San Diego.

Throughout the rest of this season before the KTM finals, Maddox again will compete in GNCC — though up a class from last season to 65cc bikes. He also will attempt to qualify for Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship through area and regional events.

Maddox ran his first race when he was 5 years old. The progress he’s made since then, culminating in the San Diego win, meant a lot to him and the family, his dad said.

“To him, it was everything. He came off grinning ear-to-ear,” Moretz said. “He’s already taken his trophy to school to show everybody. It was everything to him.

“I’m proud of him. That’s big, you know. It took a lot of effort and a lot of hard work. And he raced in front of 100,000 people.”

Maddox has his eyes on a riding career when he grows up, Moretz said. For now, it’s a step at a time, though. Currently, he rides for Statesville-based Carolina Cobra Connection to pursue more titles in GNCC and Loretta Lynn’s.

He already has the right work ethic in and out of the classroom. Maddox is an A/B Honor Roll student in third grade at Salem Elementary School and puts in the work riding at home, where he has support from his dad, his mom Lindsay, his little brother Mason, 5 — who also rides — and little sister Maraleigh, 2.

“Motorcycles are everything to him. He practices and trains and works out,” Moretz said. “He still does his school work and all that.

“He’s still a boy, but he loves his motorcycles.”

Justin Epley can be reached at jepley@morganton.com or 828-432-8943.

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