Most 15-year-old girls have hobbies like cheerleading, soccer or horseback riding.
But ask Melanie Hansen what she would rather be doing on any given day and the answer is surprising — motocross.
The rising junior at West Lincoln High School has been riding since she was 4 years old and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. In fact, Hansen is so dedicated to her hobby that she’s taking it to the next level, having been one of only 1,446 people to qualify for the 2014 Red Bull AMA Amateur Nationals Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
The race became part of the Red Bull Signature series in 2012 and was aired live on NBC in 2013 and previous winners, such as Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael, have gone on to have successful professional careers.
After finishing in fourth and fifth place overall in qualifying races that took Melanie and her family to South Carolina and Georgia, the Hansens are proud of her accomplishment, especially since this is Melanie’s first full year of competing in motocross. Despite still being new in competing, Melanie is certainly no stranger to racing.
“She’s the third generation of motorcycle riders and a fourth generation racer,” said Lee Hansen, Melanie’s father, a Lincolnton firefighter. In fact, according to Lee, both of Melanie’s grandfathers were late model dirt track car racers.
“I’m still scared,” said Tammy Hansen, Melanie’s mother.
“We drink a lot of Pepto Bismol to get us through race weekends,” Lee said with a laugh. “But it’s all about family.”
The Hansens truly make Melanie’s hobby a family event, taking turns to drive her to Elkin at least once, sometimes twice a week for her to practice. The youngest of three, even Melanie’s older brother, Curtis, volunteers to make the drive so his little sister can live her dream. The family voluntarily sacrifices time and money to help ensure that Melanie has everything she needs to compete at her best, even Melanie.
“She chose racing over getting a car,” said Tammy. “And a lot of kids are getting professional, high dollar training and she does everything at home.”
Weight training, aerobics, even treading water in the family pool for an hour at a time, in addition to chores and helping out around the house and in garage are all activities that help to keep Melanie on top of her game.
“A lot of kids wouldn’t work that hard,” Tammy said.
Though Melanie has one sponsor, Care Changes, the Hansens are hoping to garner support from the local community. Melanie uses the same bike for practicing and to race and the upkeep puts quite a dent in the family funds.
“Just the parts can take almost $10,000,” said Lee. “But we’ve been real lucky and it’s because we do it as a family.”
When asked what her peers in school think about her hobby, Melanie said, “Most of the boys don’t believe it. A lot of the girls are happy for me to do it. Two of my friends got dirt bikes just to come ride with me.”
The race takes place from July 29–Aug. 3 and Melanie will be taking an entire cadre of supporters, including her father, stepmother, her brother and sister, her uncles and several family friends. In the midst of the preparation, Melanie remains optimistic and grateful for the opportunity.
“Professionally, women aren’t as frequent (in motocross) so the experience of going to Loretta’s is once in a lifetime.”
To find out how to support Melanie, visit her Go Fund Me site at www.gofundme.com/awt2ys