Stevens is national champ in two classes
It’s roughly 2,400 miles across the country from the Lehigh Valley to Phoenix, Arizona.
But for Northwestern High School senior Jacob Stevens, it was The Grand Canyon State that introduced him to his passion at an early age.
Stevens, who is originally from Chandler (a suburb of Phoenix), moved to Pennsylvania early in his childhood. He moved back to the southwest state back in 2011, and it was a visit he had with some family members that changed his life forever. After seeing his uncle and cousin race in a motocross race, he was hooked.
“Being around the environment and watching all the quad races, I told my parents I wanted to do it,” Stevens said. “It kind of came natural to me. My dad got me a quad, and we went to a motocross track. I just started going.”
Stevens’ career took off from that point on. Quads, also known as ATVs or four-wheelers, are what he rides week after week. He’s been racing for roughly four years now, but a number of injury-riddled seasons early in his career got his racing days off to a rocky start.
But this year, Stevens accomplished more than he could’ve anticipated. He recorded five first-place finishes in the two classes he races in (450 C and Production C). In all, he won 24 of the motos he raced in during the 2015 national schedule, which awarded him national championships in both classes.
“It was definitely a big confidence booster in my career so far,” Stevens said. “The past seasons I’ve had injuries, and I wasn’t where I really wanted to be. After I started winning motos at the beginning of the season, I just gained more confidence mentally. I kept pushing and pushing, and training harder and harder.”
The two classes are very different, and Stevens has found success in both. Riders cannot alter the frame of their quad in any way in Production C; in 450 C Class, participants can upgrade the quad, but the final product can’t exceed 450cc (cubic centimenters).
There is also an open class in which riders can alter their quads as much as they want without any limit, but Stevens rarely rides in those events.
Stevens wrapped up his national season with first-place finishes in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, on August 6. Those two places, which awarded him 30 points in each class, cemented his standing on top of the leaderboard with 221 points in 450 C and 225 points in Production C. Riders are awarded points based on their finish in every race, with the total number of points calculated at the end of the season after 10 events.
He travels as far as Texas and Minnesota for the national circuit that lasts from March until August. So, with the early portion of the season stretching into the school year, Stevens is dealt with the difficult task of juggling school, riding and everything else in life.
“School work is definitely hard to keep up with,” Stevens said. “I try to get a lot of my work done before I leave, but if I don’t know the material by then I have to get it all made up when I get back…My teachers have really given me a lot of help. They’re giving me time to do stuff. The guidance counselors and the principal have all given me time to take off.”
The tracks are similar to ones that motocross dirt bike racers often ride, with periods of flat dirt track and built in jumps across the course. In the C Class, Stevens and other riders can gain as much as 30 or 40 feet in height and 140 feet in distance over the jumps.
He’ll continue to race local events until the national season picks up again. Stevens moves up to B Class next year. His next race is in Fredericksburg this weekend.
But his ultimate vision is to make racing a profession down the road. He’s already sponsored by one of the top sponsors of the sport in Root River Racing, among many others. His parents are also a big part of helping Stevens fund everything it takes to make his dream come true, from the gas in his quad at each event to traveling 17,000 miles across the country last summer.
“My main goal in motocross is to definitely become a professional racer,” Stevens said. “But if that doesn’t work out, I still want to stay in the racing industry.”