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July 17, 2014

Rutters earn spot in national motocross event

- — The brother-sister racing duo of Elijah and Dannah Rutter of Mercer are set to travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete soon in the prestigious 33rd annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by AMSOIL at Loretta Lynn Ranch.

Elijah, 18, and Dannah, 16, earned a ticket to the event with their performances at qualifiers and then regionals and are among the top 5 percent of riders in the U.S. Overall, 20,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. competed and there are only 1,446 qualifying spots at nationals.

They are one of the first brother-sister competitors to reach the elite classes at nationals. Elijah will compete in the 450B Class on a Honda CRF450R, while Dannah is in the Girls’ 12-16 Senior Class and will ride a Honda CRF150RB.

“I’m really excited,” said Elijah. “This is my second time making it to nationals and my sister’s first time. I made it in 2012 (suffered broken wrist last season) and finished 13th overall in the 250C Stock Class”"

“This is my first year and I’m definitely very excited,” said Dannah. “I was an alternate for my class in 2012, but didn’t get to race. We will just do as well as we can at nationals.”

Nationals Event Director Tim Cotter said, “The Amateur Nationals at Loretta Lynn’s is the event every motocross racer in the country wants to compete in. A win at the Amateur Nationals gives a rider instant national notoriety and can serve as a springboard to a lucrative professional motocross career.”

Elijah and Dannah both started racing at a very young age and got involved with the sport because of their mother Lorraine, 44.

“I’m originally from upstate New York and my dad (Art Sandberg) was big into riding,” said Lorraine. “I was an only child and he got me into it. I got back into it as an adult and ran women’s pro series races when the kids were little and they got into it. I still ride, but not like I did back then.”

Elijah and Dannah started riding when they were 3 or 4 years old. They ran on a track on their property and also would race at Pymatuning Holeshot Raceway in Linesville.

Elijah just graduated from Mercer High this June, while Dannah is still in school. Elijah, who was also on the wrestling team and competed in track & field, is going to Slippery Rock University to be a physician’s assistant. But he acknowledged, “It’s every kid’s dream to be a pro” in motocross.

As in any type of motorsports, you can’t get far without sponsors. The family wanted to thank Redpoint Adventures (their father’s business in Grove City), Leatt (protective neck braces and body armour), Spy Goggles, Dunlop Tires, Wiseco Pistons (headquartered in Mentor, Ohio) and Pro-Action (suspensions).

The Loretta Lynn racetrack is utilized just twice a year — for the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships (since 1982) and the AMA ATV Motocross Championships (since 1985).

Most of America’s top professional motocrossers, including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath, have won amateur national titles at Loretta Lynn's.

In 2012, the amateur nationals became part of the Red Bull Signature Series, airing race coverage on NBC for the first time ever. Last year, it was aired live on NBC. This season, the racing will be streamed live online all week long on racertv.com.

For more information on the amateur national championships, visit mxsports.com.

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