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Teen bike race champ Beeler has big dreams


Chris Beeler’s passion for bike racing started at age 6 — and he hasn’t let off the emotional throttle for 10 years. How else do you explain how a 7-year-old bounces back quickly from a broken tailbone?

“My first bad injury … We were just riding around the practice track, and my throttle hung wide open and just threw me off the back ... ,” said Beeler, a 16-year-old multi-champion on both the U.S. MegaSeries and Southern All-star circuits who is a sophomore at Farragut High School. “I thought about quitting right then, but I love motorcycle racing. I just kept going.”

That’s despite nine years worth of injuries that also include a broken collarbone, breaks of both ankles, broken wrist, “and then I broke my leg about (nine) weeks ago,” Beeler said of a recent hairline fracture injury that did not keep him away from racing. “I never knew it broke, I never had it checked ‘till (three) weeks ago. It started to heal back crooked. Probably go in and have that fixed this summer.”

Saying his career motorcycle racing titles add up to “about nine or ten” combined indoor and outdoor series championships, Beeler most recently won 14 of 15 races to capture the United States MegaSeries Indoor 250C class title on his Yamaha YZ450S at sites in Asheville, N.C., Shelbyville and Morristown.

That season ran from late November to February.


As for the national scope of Beeler’s field, “they came from South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, from all over the southeast and probably northeast, too,” he said.

Influenced by his neighbor’s racing and family members who have made racing a hobby, “we thought we’d just give it a shot,” Beeler said of his racing start as a child. “My mom (Lisa) and dad (Jerry) and uncle (Mark Harness) used to race. Actually, my dad raced cars ... he had a (1969) Camaro, he drag-raced it ... and my mom rode motorcycles. ... My uncle raced dirt cars and he was really good at that, I think he won a lot.”

Saying he’s been told by various sponsors that he’s talented enough to eventually turn pro, “I really do hope so,” Beeler said. “I’d like to be above average ... turn pro and run top-ten out of everybody.”

In the U.S. MegaSeries125C indoor class last winter on his Yamaha YZ250S, “I got second or third overall,” Beeler said.

The Southern All-Stars outdoor season — a “two-and-a-half to three-mile course” lasting “twenty-four to twenty-five races” from March through November in sites mainly in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama — has begun with mixed results for the FHS sophomore.

“In the first race I crashed both days, I didn’t do too great,” Beeler said, adding he rebounded on the second race for a second-place finish in the 125C and third-place finish in the 250C.

During outdoor competition, Beeler and his opponents must tackle jumps as long as “one-hundred to one-hundred fifteen feet,” the 16-year-old said. “They’re big.

“Indoor is more technical ... if you don’t have good rhythm you’ll probably crash. You’ve got to stay smooth ... ,” Beeler added about the three-quarter mile courses, emphasizing that jumps have to be negotiated quicker than outdoor courses. “Outdoor, it’s more like how fast you can go and how far you can jump.”

What does Beeler think are his keys to success? “I’m smooth and I’m real smart racing,” the young racer said. “I can usually pick up on what people are doing a lot faster than other people, and I just try to execute.”

As for moving up to 250B class, “I’m getting ready to move up to that class,” Beeler said. “Probably in about four months. I’ll just have to get faster.”

Beeler said his timetable for turning pro (250A) is approaching. “But (by) the time I’m seventeen, eighteen, right around there” he said.

Financial ambition aside, “I love the sport, that’s why I do it,” Beeler said. “Money, yah, that’ll be nice, but I love to race motorcycles.”

After his racing career ends, “sometime around (age) twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, right around that area, I’m going to go back and work for my dad,” Beeler said. “We own our own construction business.”

Given the lack of prize money due to Beeler’s amateur status, financial assistance has been vital for bike and travel expenses.

“Sponsors help me some, and mamaw and papaw help me, too,” Beeler said of grandparents Ivan and Faye Harness.

 

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