Western Brown’s Gerard excels on the dirt tracks at 13 –
By Wade Linville –
Lance Gerard once tried playing football, but it didn’t take him long to find out that school sports just wasn’t for him. Displaying a great deal of athletic ability at a young age and developing a deep love for competition as a student of the Western Brown School District, it only made sense to give football a try. But Gerard was always drawn back to the dirt tracks where he and his dirt bike united as one, speeding around tight curves and accelerating off the steep hills to sky high above the ground. Rather than scoring touchdowns and tackling ball-carriers, Gerard prefers the feeling he gets when it was just him and his bike competing against a field of others who share the same love…the love of Motocross.
The 13-year-old of Sardinia rode his first motorbike when he was just three years old, and only a week after turning four, he competed in his first dirt bike race. Gerard was only five-years-old when he started competing nationally, racing at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV, and at six he earned a spot on the podium at the Vegas Arenacross Championships. Gerard took a three-year break from dirt bike racing to compete in school sports, but would then return to the dirt tracks to compete nationally once again. At 11 years old, Gerard was trying to earn his spot in Loretta Lynn’s MX Sports Amateur National Motocross Championship.
“The Loretta Lynn’s (Amateur National Motocross Championship) is basically the most prestigious outdoor national amateur championship in the world, and it’s a qualification process you have to go through,” explained Lance Gerard’s father, Jared Gerard.
Making it to Loretta Lynn’s to compete for a national title is no easy task, as one must first qualify while competing in selected area qualifier races.
“You go through area qualifiers, and the top eight advance from there to your regional championship, and the top six advance from there. The top 42 meet at Loretta Lynn’s in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee,” Jared Gerard said of the “Road to Loretta’s”.
This marks the fourth year that Lance Gerard has attempted the “Road to Loretta’s” after reaching the end of his road in the regional championships in years prior.
The Sardinia teen has not yet accomplished his goal of making it to Loretta Lynn’s, but he has enjoyed a great deal of success in the sport of Motocross.
In 2016, he won the Battle of Ohio State Championship Series in the 85 junior class, and claimed the District 11 title the year prior.
He is undefeated in Highland County Fair dirt bike competition with over 20 race victories, receiving around 24 local awards to add to his collection.
He also competed in the Henderson’s Indoor Series in Jackson, Ohio this year, where he captured a win.
It’s his Piston Cup he earned while competing in the Arenacross National Championships in Las Vegas in 2010 that stands as his most cherished award in his racing career thus far.
“That’s my favorite trophy,” said Lance Gerard.
Last year he was going to make a run for Loretta’s, but a separated shoulder and fractured humorous left him unable to compete. During his time off from his injuries, the teen racer and his father took the time to discuss whether he wanted to continue to pursue his Motocross dreams.
“He was out four-and-a-half months, and while he was out (with injuries) it was a case of ‘What do you want? Are you willing to sacrifice?’,” said Jared Gerard.
It was Lance Gerard’s decision to climb back on the bike, and the outlook since has been “full steam ahead.”
“It’s been nothing but commitment and dedication since,” said Jared Gerard. “He’s spending a lot of time at Hardcore Elite Fitness (in Mt. Orab). This winter, as much as we could afford, we went south and practiced. Recently, he’s been spending more time in the weight room and less on the bike to get his body right. This year has been total commitment to that ‘Road to Loretta’s’.”
In March, Lance Gerard and his father traveled to Pell City, Alabama to compete in the Millcreek AMA Spring Classic Amateur National, where he finished in fifth place in the 125C Division and ninth in the Schoolboy 1 12-16 B/C Class.
While the Sardinia teen wasn’t very pleased with his fifth and ninth place finishes in Alabama, he still is proud of what he was able to accomplish considering he was riding a stock bike in a non-stock class.
“Driving a stock bike in a non-stock class hurt him because of the big up-hill they have on the start, and he got pulled on the start,” explained Jared Gerard. “Actually, in the 125 class he was running the second fastest time lap time throughout the whole event.”
Lance Gerard has already qualified for the Southeast Regional Championship this year after competing for a top eight finish in Gainesville, FL in February.
He will be racing in an area qualifier at East Fork MX in New Vienna on April 21 with hopes of qualifying for the RedBud MX Amateur Regional Championships in Buchanan, MI.
According to Lance Gerard, his mother, Tara Blank, who currently lives in South Carolina, has encouraged him to give up dirt bike racing due to the risk of injury in the sport. But Lance says “not a chance.” The risk of injury comes with nearly every sport and safety is among Jared Gerard’s main concerns for his dirt bike racing son, so the duo makes sure to take all the necessary precautions and undergo the necessary training to greatly help reduce the risk of serious injury during practice and competitions.
Jared Gerard is employed with the Village of Sardinia, and as a single father, the cost for travel and other expenses that go to support his son’s Motocross goals can be pretty steep at times, but thankfully the teen biker has gained enough attention to obtain some generous sponsors that include: MOB Motosports, Hardcore Elite Fitness, O’Neal, Five Six O Graphics, and JDP Suspension.
Also providing support for the Sardinia racing teen is his grandmother, who does his laundry after the practice and races.
While some of his classmates in his eighth grade class thinks it’s “cool” that one of their peers competes nationally in the sport of motocross, others don’t quite understand the athleticism it takes to be successful in the sport.
“They think riding a dirt bike doesn’t require you to be fit, but they’re wrong,” said Lance Gerard.
Hours upon hours in the weight room along with exercises to improve balance, Lance Gerard rarely gets a break between schoolwork and the physical conditioning it takes to keep up with the racing competition.
According to his father, Lance Gerard has been working out an average of four days per week to go along with at least a 10-mile, 30-minute ride on his bicycle.
With his father by his side the entire way, the Western Brown eighth grader has overcome adversity to gain success in the sport he loves most, and there’s no doubt that their sharing of love for the sport has aided to their tight father-son bond.
“You meet some of the best people you could ever meet at the tracks, and it’s a sport that’s very goal-oriented and focus-driven,” said Jared Gerard. “It’s a lot of fun.”
It was his father that sparked his interest in riding motorcycles at a very young age. Lance Gerard can recall his father taking him on rides through the fields on his dirt bike when he was just a toddler.
He was only three-years-old when his father bought him his first dirt bike.
“On Christmas when I was three, there was a dirt bike in the shower. He hid it from me,” said Lance Gerard, who like many other young boys wasn’t too anxious to take a bath on Christmas morning.
“(I) fought with him all morning about going and getting a bath, but he would not go in there,” said Jared Gerard.
Finally, the young Lance Gerard did find his dirt bike that his father hid in the shower as a Christmas gift, and from that point on his life would change.
Today, the Sardinia teen is a skilled competitor who oftentimes faces older competition on the dirt tracks, in some cases grown men.
In addition to his goal of making it to Loretta Lynn’s to compete for a National Motocross Championship, Lance Gerard hopes to also hit some new tracks this year and shave 10 or more seconds from his lap time on his Yamaha YZ125.
Lance Gerard plans to continue their travels throughout the United States, a determined teen dirt bike racer on a quest to eventually become a pro in the sport with his father by his side as his biggest fan. The “Road to Loretta’s” may be long, but the Western Brown eighth grader has proven he’s willing to sacrifice to accomplish his goals. With strong support from family, friends, and some generous sponsors; there’s no limit to what Lance Gerard can accomplish while ripping through the dirt tracks in his pursuit of a national title. According to Jared Gerard, you never really know where the sport of motocross may take you next.
“It’s just me and him, so we fly by night,” said Jared Gerard. “Most of our decisions are made on a coin flip.”