He has nerves of steel, an unflinching belief in his ability to gain victory and he really loves to go fast. Still, 6-year-old Grandview resident Damon Palacios is admittedly a bit nervous about competing in the upcoming American Motocross Association national motocross championship.
The 6-year-old speed demon, who will be entering second grade this fall, qualified for Nationals after winning the 4-to-6-year-old division at the Regional championship the weekend of June 12 in Washougal.
Palacios has been busy on the motocross circuit. He first got aboard a bicycle just after his third birthday, and it has almost been impossible to get him off two wheels since, said his father, David.
Damon started racing two years ago, with his first race at Horn Rapids. Damon said he became interested in the sport because of his dad. He said he had also seen a lot of people race and decided he wanted to try. Damon has 30 races to his credit, with more than half of those resulting in first place trophies.
Mr. Palacios' interest in motorcycle racing stemmed from his cousin, Larry Trevino, and he wanted to share that same interest with his son.
He said his son Damon takes part in a number of races promoted by Sunnyside Honda-Polaris dealer Pat Jaquish.
Damon said when he is racing he doesn't really get nervous because he is busy concentrating on the track.
"It is exciting," added Damon.
Damon earned a spot into the Regional qualifier after finishing third at a qualifying event held in Roseburg, Ore. in late April. Damon said he finished third after having some problems with his motorcycle.
"I didn't think I was going to finish," laughed Damon.
Damon competes on a Yamaha PW 50. The Grandview youngster also owns a Yamaha TTR 90.
Able to overcome mechanical problems, Damon made his way to Washougal and gained his way to the National championships with a victory. At the Washougal race, Damon had to run 10 laps instead of the usual five contestants in his age division usually run.
"It felt very good (to win)," said Damon of the Washougal victory.
His father said that 40 racers from around the country should be competing against Damon at the National championships, which will be held at famed country western singer Loretta Lynn's ranch at Hurricane Hills Aug. 2-7.
"Going to the national race is kind of the pinnacle of amateur motocross," said David.
Damon said motorcyle racing is something he enjoys very much.
"I want to keep doing it for the rest of my life," said Damon.
The motocross season is in the spring and fall. Mr. Palacios said he and his wife, Anita, try to take their son to as many local events as possible. Damon said one of his favorite parts to racing, besides receiving a trophy, is the friends he has made. His father said it is amazing to watch all of the young competitors and how they flock to one another.
"I am very proud of him," said Mr. Palacios. "He is a smart ride. It is a pretty good sport to get into. You meet all kinds of nice people along the way."
Damon encourages anyone who is interested in motorcyle racing to give it a try because it is very fun.
"You also go really fast," he smiled.
Damon and his parents plan to leave early enough for their drive to Tennessee to take in such sites as Mt. Rushmore, Graceland, Chicago and St. Louis.
Damon admitted that he usually doesn't get nervous before a race, but the butterflies are kind of twitching in his stomach about the national race.
"I am little nervous," said Damon. "Because these are people that I have never raced before."
But both Damon and his parents are taking one motto of inspiration with them as they travel to the national event.
"Give it all the gas and don't crash," laughed dad.