Earlier this year, Hughesville’s Grayson Shelton, 6, climbed onto a motocross bike for the first time for a full season after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of all but a handful of events during the 2020 season.

In his first full-time season racing a dirt park, parents Jessica, 34, and Eric, 35, didn’t have any expectation of results for their son; they just wanted to see him have fun.

“A big thing is not about where you finish, how you finish or anything like that. If you keep it fun it stays something he wants to do,” Eric said.

No one expected that when Grayson lined up at the starting gate for his first events in the Middle Atlantic Motocross Association in the Special Limited and Limited Jr. categories in April at South Fork Motocross Park in Virginia it would be the start of an exemplary season.

The Special Limited and Limited Jr. classes both use 50cc motocross bikes, with certain restrictions to slow down the special limited machines to make the bikes more controllable for young riders.

The Limited Jr. category uses up-tuned bikes to produce a little more power and speed, but still keep the racing safe enough for the youngest riders.

No matter the speed, though, Grayson came out on top.

Grayson won six times across both classes, finishing no worse than fourth in the 50cc Limited and no worse than seventh in the 50cc Special Limited category to sweep the 4-6 year old category in 2021.

Grayson also ran in the open categories for 4-8 year olds, finishing fifth in Open A, and 11th in Open B.

Championship glory was a complete shock to his parents, who had a more modest outlook on how he’d fair.

“I think we said maybe on the KTM (Special Limited bike) he’ll get top five and on the Cobra (Limited Jr. bike) maybe a top-10 in the big boy class,” Jessica said.

Riding started at an extremely young age for Grayson, who began on a strider bike, a pedal-less bicycle, just before his second birthday.

By 2½, he was riding and racing bicycle motocross, or BMX, before graduating to motorized bikes just two years later.

Jessica said the love for bikes came from the boy’s father, who is an avid motocross and BMX rider.

Grayson seems content on keeping the family tradition alive. The young racer spends a majority of his time practicing on a small motocross track built in their backyard, working on starts, which were “horrible,” according to his parents during his first year.

To perfect his launch off the start line, an important part of motocross races, Grayson and his father spent time training by using a stick.

Eric would hold up the stick in front of Grayson, and when it drops, the young rider takes off.

The daily practice paid off for the boy, as he took home one his biggest wins of the year on Oct. 24 when he won the 50cc Special Limited category for 4-8 year olds at Budds Creek in Mechanicsville.

In 2022, the Sheltons have their eyes set on a chance at competing in KTM Junior Supercross, a youth racing league exhibition contested during Monster Energy Supercross events.

But the biggest prize is a shot at advancing to Loretta Lynn Motocross track in Tennessee for a chance at a National Amateur Championship next August, something that Eric says will take skill and a little luck.

The Sheltons are looking for sponsorship for their 2022 season. Interested parties are encouraged to send an email to klinej11@gmail.com.

Twitter: @DarrylSoMdNews

Twitter: @DarrylSoMdNews