PHOENIX — Eight-year-old Brett Parker is a soft-spoken third-grader who likes to play in the dirt.
But when the West Valley boy puts on his motocross helmet, his quiet demeanor turns into determination to win.
Brett will travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., from July 29 through Aug. 4 to compete in the 31st annual Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Lorretta Lynn's Ranch.
The championship is called one of the most prestigious amateur events in the sport and features 1,446 participants, some as young as 4 and others over 50. It has drawn top motocross racers including Ricky Carmichael and Travis Pastrana.
Brett said he has one equation for success.
"Just stay focused and try to do good," he said.
Brett will ride in the 50cc motocross class, vying against top 7- and 8-year olds from across the U.S. who ride bikes that reach speeds of as much as 50 mph. He will be the only person from Arizona in that group.
Brett will race three times on dirt tracks that have high jumps and sharp turns.
His parents, Bryan and Kyla, say the win was a culmination of years of hard work for Brett.
Brett, who started riding at 4, grew up watching his father compete in amateur motocross races. Soon Brett longed for his own bike, his parents recalled.
"The day his dad told him 'When you start riding your bicycle without training wheels you get a motorcycle,' (Brett) took his training wheels off his bicycle that day and was riding within five minutes without training wheels," Kyla said.
At 4 years old he competed in his first race and notched his first win.
"It was just fun and I got a big trophy," Brett said.
After that first race, he continued to practice and race on the weekends.
"He's always been focused on motocross," Brett said. "He's tried soccer and baseball and just didn't take to it like dirt bikes."
While Brett seemed to love what he was doing, Bryan said, he wanted to make sure he wasn't pushing his son too hard. As a dad and former motocross racer, Bryan said, he wanted to make sure Brett was competing because he wanted to, not to please his father.
"You can tell he had a natural-born talent for it," Bryan said. Yet, he added, "I stepped back and said, 'I want him to ask me to go riding; I don't want to push him.'
"I don't want to be that father that says, 'You have to go ride, you have to put in the time.' I just want it to be fun. If the fun ends, then what's the point?' "
Parker, who races in Arizona and California, qualified for the championship after getting second place in June at a regional qualifier in Hesperia, Calif.
The qualifier race will go down as one of their favorite races, Brett's parents said.
"It was pretty emotional, to be honest," Bryan said.
The race was close, with all of the competitors neck and neck, but in the end Brett pulled out a second-place finish and a qualifying position to go to the national championship.
Brett says he was so excited that he doesn't remember his mother running out onto the track to congratulate him. He only remembers holding the shiny trophy.
"I was a crying, emotional mess," Kyla said.
Kyla and Bryan have many friends whose kids race in motocross competitions. Although he is in the third grade, Brett also says that some of his closest friends are competitors on the track.
Brett's friend Zach Frye, 9, said once it's time to race, they aren't worried about anything else.
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