La Sal resident Sierra Bull was leading the pack in a motocross race just weeks ago when she completely wiped out, losing her place. The six-year-old brushed herself off, hopped back on her bike, and reestablished her spot in the lead within a single lap.
“That’s how driven she is,” said her dad, Tron Bull, said. “It’s kind of in her DNA. It doesn’t matter if it’s just bowls of cereal on the table—she’s gonna try to eat her bowl of cereal before you, and then say, ‘I won.’ Some kids are just that way.”
Sierra recently qualified for the world’s largest motocross race: the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship (formerly known as the Loretta Lynn Amateur Championship), held in Tennessee in early August.
The race is considered the final stop for amateur motocross riders before they go pro—but even if she wins the whole thing, Sierra still has a ways to go: after all, she’s only six years old.
Motocross is essentially off-road motorcycling: riders compete by racing on natural or man-made terrains with hills, jumps, and tight turns. Skilled riders have the best risk assessment, Tron said: they know exactly how fast or how slow to take the obstacles, in order to finish first. Kids can start competing in races when they’re four years old.
Motocross is in Sierra’s blood, Tron said. Her mom, Christine, was a motocross champion, and her two older siblings race. Tron and Christine never pushed their kids into the sport—they allowed the kids to decide just how much or how little they wanted to train and practice. Neither of Sierra’s siblings loves the sport as much as she does.
What makes Sierra so skilled is seat time, Tron said.
“She’s spent hundreds of hours on her bike,” he said. “She’s probably logged more hours by the time she was five years old than a lot of people do in their whole life. She would come home from daycare and go ride her bike for two or three hours.”
Tron built her a track in their yard in La Sal where Sierra could practice. If she messes up in a race—like when she wiped out on the jump in New Mexico—she’ll practice the movement hundreds of times in a row on the track, Tron said.
“Sierra will go train herself,” he said. “For practice, she’ll ride around in circles all day—she’ll pick something out and work on it until she’s perfected it.
There’s not much of a motocross community in La Sal, Tron said. Ideally, Sierra would be racing every weekend. But races are far—at least a five- or six-hour drive—and expensive. To qualify for the national championship, Sierra competed in races in Washington, California, and Utah over the course of six months. Some of her competitors at the championship will be kids who race year-round, go to training camps, and spend thousands of dollars on bikes and coaches.
“I see a lot of kids with an extensive amount of training that just weren’t that good,” Tron said. “They didn’t have the mindset of, ‘I’m going to push into this corner half a second longer to gain an advantage’—instead they’re like, ‘this is scary, I’m gonna back off.’”
And, most of her competitors will be boys—motocross is still distinctly unpopular with girls.
“It’s unusual for a girl to be here,” Tron said. In all of Sierra and her sister’s races, they’ve only met a few other girls. Fellow motocross parents are always “shocked” to see Sierra, Tron said: first, because she’s a girl, and second, because she’s so good.
Sierra’s reason for liking motocross is simple. She likes to “jump all the jumps,” she said, her shy and quiet answer so at odds with her fiercely competitive attitude at races. Her teachers are always surprised when they find out about Sierra’s primary sport, Tron said. At school, Sierra keeps to herself mostly, but excels academically—she skipped kindergarten and is skipping second grade, too.
The national championship takes place August 1-6. There will be professional scouts at the event, and while they won’t scout a six-year-old, they will pick out who to keep an eye on. Kids usually start getting seriously scouted in their teens, Tron said.
“That’s how they find out who the kids are,” Tron said. “They see who’s good enough that no matter what happens, is good enough to win anyway.”
The trip will be expensive, so the Bulls are fundraising with a lasagna dinner at the La Sal Community Center at 5 p.m. on July 9—Christine will make salad, garlic bread, and lasagna, for a suggested donation of $15 per plate. The family is also accepting donations through Venmo @SierraBullRacing; anyone else who wants to make a donation another way can contact Christine and Tron at firstname.lastname@example.org.