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Racers are in a world of dirt
OLD APPLETON, Mo. -- Nearly 160 racers hit the dirt track at Sky High Motocross Park in Old Appleton on Sunday for the Mid-South Motocross Championship Series.
The races were in 18 categories, divided by age, gender, bike and motor size and experience. The event was one round of an overall series in which those competing could earn points to boost their standing in the Mid-South championship series.
It's the only track in the series in Missouri. Other tracks are in Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.
Jamie Wills, one of the event organizers at Sky High, said Sunday's event had a good range of race categories that could provide a points boost to those who finish well.
"The better they finish, the more points they get, and having the most points at the end of the year is what it's all about," he said. "All contestants will race twice today in different (classes)."
The motocross park not only is the only Mid-South series track in the area. It is the only motocross park in Southeast Missouri. To get to another, Wills said, racers would have to travel to St. Louis or Tennessee.
"We typically have people drive in from five or six different states," he said.
This year, contestants came from Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi to compete, and Wills said they didn't come alone.
"That's the biggest thing: This is really a family sport," he said. "Nobody races by themselves. They bring their families with them to watch and support."
Toby McKinney came from Boaz, Ky., and competed in the 45-plus and "vet" categories. He said he's been to other Sky High events and wasn't the only member of his family to compete in the races.
"We really like coming here. It's one of his favorite tracks, so we wouldn't miss it," he said, pointing at his son, who was lining up for his first race in the beginners category.
Chelsea Merseal, 22, of Bloomsdale, Mo., has raced for six years, and started riding as a child.
She was the only woman competing in Sunday's races. She said she's been to almost every event at Sky High since it opened three years ago.
"It's a very nice track," she said. "You can tell the owners really put a lot into it."
The park is owned by Larry and Priscilla Hull of Old Appleton, who have grandchildren competing in motocross.
"We do it for the kids," Priscilla Hull said.
The park again will hold races as part of the Mid-South Motocross Championship Series on Sept. 15. On Oct. 5 and 6, it hosts the Sky High Championship Bash, which features weekend events for racers and motocross enthusiasts.
17040 U.S. Highway 61 Old Appleton, MoLDO