JACKSONVILLE — One year ago yesterday, Jack Oden got a bike for Christmas — but not the ordinary type of two-wheels. Jack's bike was one made for the sport of motocross.
According to his Dad, Scott Oden, motocross is growing in the Jacksonville area.
"Some of the other kids (in the area) and their families have been in it for a year to 20 years," Oden said. "We have about seven kids actually racing, but about 12 or so that come ride and practice."
Oden said even though football runs deep in the veins of many sports fans in East Texas, there is also a love for motocross.
"(It's) not for the faint of heart. Motocross presents the potential for many dangers and broken bones, but these boys have accepted the risk and still give it their all," he said.
But just like any sport, it is all about practice.
"The level of determination and discipline these kids manifest is rare. They practice every day, whether at a small, local home track or at a nearby public track," Oden said.
Oden added that his family are members at the Swan MX in Tyler and RioBravo MX in Houston.
According the website www.motorcyclemuseum.org., motocross dates back to the mid-1920s and originated "somewhere in France." The sport became popular in Great Britain in the 1930s and went international in 1947, the site says. It would be the 1960s before the sport became noticed in America.
The site said American motocross took the sporting world by storm in the 1970s, after the war and when the Baby Boomers became a contributing factor to the population.
Motocross became more and more popular, and eventually the soon-to-be demolished Astrodome became a prime race track for enthusiasts, according to the website.
Now, a new generation is hitting the tracks — and new locations.
"Currently, the kids race all over Texas, but one of the closest local races they participate in is held at Swan, Texas (just north of Tyler)," Oden said. "This is an awesome track, and the sponsors do a great job with their annual series.
Oden said soon the young racers hope to participate in competitions nationwide.
"These kids' families are really proud of them all and want them to know we support them 100 percent." Oden said.