PLYMOUTH — A local motocross racer is hoping to chase her dreams this season after a tough break.
Plymouth’s Katie Longanecker will hit the track again soon after a badly broken leg took her out of action a year ago. The ultimate goal for her is to qualify for the MX Sports Amateur National Motorcross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurrican Hills, Tennessee.
She’s ready to leave behind the disappointment from a year ago.
“Everything was going groovy,” said Katie. “I qualified for Loretta a year ago out of the area regional and I had time off so we decided to go race at Akron. It was my first time practicing with the big bikes. I didn’t really make the first lap of practice. I got taken out and got a severe tib/fib (tibia and fibula bones of the lower leg) break.”
Doubly disappointing since Katie was using the race as a way to practice for Loretta Lynn’s race.
“I had two steel rods along both sides of my tibia to hold it in place,” she said. “I was in a cast all the way up my thigh and it was miserable, especially in the summer heat.”
Even during recovery, Longanecker was ready to get back on the track.
“After that, I was confident to get back on the bike,” she said. “I told myself that just because I broke my leg that wasn’t going to keep me down because it’s what I love.”
It didn’t take long to jump back in the water.
“I was back on the bike in August in a competition,” she said.
How’d she do?
“I took second place.”
Katie is 12 and a student at Lincoln Jr. High, the daughter of Michelle and Randy Longanecker. She has been racing motocross for four years.
“We went to a race with a friend of my dad’s — Scott Patrick — at Red Bud (race track in Buchanan, MI),” said Katie. “After I saw the adults do it and realized there was a kid’s track I thought I had to do it because it looked cool.”
“I started off small and as I progressed I advanced up to bigger bikes,” she said. “We drive a couple hours on the weekends from track to track but we are usually in Michigan.”
It’s not just the racing, Katie knows her way around her equipment.
“I do a lot of that (maintaining the motorcycle),” she said. “If I race a bike I have to work on it that’s the rule of our house.”
Longanecker does most of her racing locally and still likes the first track she raced on.
“Red Bud is a great experience It’s not classified as a big track but as a pro track because of the size and difficulty,” she said.
In a race, each track has its challenges.
“Every lap the track changes,” she said. “Ruts form. Some people struggle with that but it depends on being on the throttle when you hit the corner so you hit that rut correctly and get back on the throttle and get out of there.”
“When you get to that start gate its not like excitement,” she said. “It’s more fear adrenaline or just being really hyped up and ready to go.”
In April the Longaneckers will head to the track at Log Road for a Loretta Lynn qualifier. Katie is looking forward to that trip for another reason as well.
“There are people from all over the world too,” she said. “You could be racing with people from Alaska. I met some people from Canada and they’re my best friends.”
Still early in her racing career, Longanecker hasn’t failed to make some long-term and short-term goals. Is being on the pro circuit one of them?
“I hope,” she said. “It’s one of my goals. If I don’t, oh well, at least I’m doing something I love and just enjoying it. It’s a passion that I’ve had for a long time now.”
“To be honest my goal this year is work on my endurance, get back into shape and try not to die,” she said with a laugh. “We are going to keep everything in one piece hopefully and get to Loretta’s.”