Team TLD/ Honda Speaks Out For a Great Cause
Story and Photos By: Chris Denison / Dirt Rider
: Masayuki Shirotani
Kids these days can use all the good examples they can get, and there’s no better role model for a preteen than a clean cut, courageous, slightly goofy young motocross racer. Earlier this week, Team Troy Lee Designs/ Honda paid a visit to Lincoln Alternative Elementary School in Corona, California, where the racers established themselves as absolute heroes in front of 400+ energetic students.
How much of an impact can a trio of young rippers have on a bunch of fourth, fifth and sixth graders? You’d be surprised. As Christian Craig, Travis Baker and Cole Seely answered questions, told stories and talked about safety to the riveted audience, they also drove home the importance of success in school, getting good grades and holding on to your dreams. The impact on the students was clearly real, but most importantly a ton of kids were exposed to one of the greatest family sports on the planet.
For one afternoon, Lincoln Alternative Elementary was transformed into a pit area for the TLD/ Honda squad. Understandably, the kids were in heaven.
Speed TV had a camera crew on hand to cover the action, and the kids got a kick out of the prospect of being on national television. The spot is set to air in conjunction with the upcoming San Diego SX race, which will be broadcast live on Speed TV.
If you think sugar gets kids revved up, try race gas fumes! When Christian Craig’s bike rolled onto the back lawn of Lincoln elementary, 400+ pre-teens officially made more noise than the entire Anaheim Supercross crowd.
Troy Lee Designs is also based in Corona, California, just a few miles from Lincoln Elementary. The company has several ties to the local community; reaching out to the students at Lincoln was yet another way for TLD to give back to the city while helping to promote the sport.
Quite possibly the best part of the assembly was the question and answer session with a handful of students. Questions ranged from “Has Obama been to your races?” to “Do you guys ever fight?” The racers themselves were more than happy to answer each query, also taking the time to reiterate the importance of education and persistence in realizing one’s dreams.
The highlight of the afternoon came when Travis Baker claimed that he still remembered his elementary school song, and then promptly jumped into a full-throttle rendition of the tune. While Baker’s future in motocross looks bright, he won’t be going platinum anytime soon. Still, you have to give the kid credit for his ability to wow a crowd!
Part of the assembly focused on safety equipment, with a hands-on explanation as to how and why racers wear helmets and chest protectors. No fifth graders were harmed in this demonstration, but one was disappointed that he didn’t get to keep the lid!
TLD’s Shawn Norfolk was the man that made the event happen. “Troy Lee grew up here in Corona, and he thought it would be so cool to go to a local elementary school and make some kids’ days.” Shawn explained. “We decided to make it happen before the Supercross series left the West Coast, as we figured we could stop by and show these kids that you don’t need to try to be a doctor or a lawyer to use your education. These guys-these professional athletes-have to use their minds every day!”
Jason Scott, Principal of Lincoln Alternative Elementary, was beside himself at how well the racers were received. “I think the visit was highly motivational for the students, and to bring in the arts has been exciting-we don’t get a chance to do that very often. And for the kids to hear from professional athletes about reading, writing, math-as well as safety-is critical. It’s an important message that I’m so glad they brought and shared.”
Troy Lee Designs is founded on art, and one of the coolest components of the racers’ visit was an art contest. Students were given 12 x 18 sheets of paper and told to draw a picture from the theme “motocross is…” with each of the racers picking their favorite drawing.
Mixed in with the various sketches were several freestyle drawings, a tiger driving a car, a couple of street bikes and (visible at top right) an impressive illustration of the Predator flat-tracking a Harley across red flames. Evidently, motocross means hugely different things to certain kids.
The three students with the top drawings were awarded a TLD backpack full of swag, much to their disbelief and excitement. As if that wasn’t enough, they also received tickets to the weekend’s Supercross race and special VIP hospitality access to the TLD/ Honda rig.
Huge props to Lincoln Elementary for exposing their students to the best sport on earth, and three cheers for the TLD Honda team for taking the time to support the youngens.
Sorry, Justin Bieber, there’s a new heartthrob in town, and his name is Christian Craig!