Hartselle BMX racer best in state; competes in Perth
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
She's beginning to build a reputation with a two-pound Crupi.
At 15 years old, Samantha Storey is the best in the state and fourth in the nation.
But it's not for softball, basketball or volleyball – it's for BMX.
Storey has been racing for three years, and now rides Crupi bicycle for the Clayborn Factory Team out of Birmingham.
She recently returned from Perth, Australia, where she placed eighth out of 24 riders in the BMX World Championship.
How she got started…
Hard to believe she was just watching her brother and decided it would be a lot of fun to race.
"My older brother Andrew does this," she said. "I just thought it would be a lot of fun to do."
Storey's dad, Charles, also could take a little credit for inspiring his daughter.
"I didn't ride motorcycles," Charles said, "mainly just mountain bikes. When I was younger, I liked BMX, but not to this extent."
Since, Storey gradually has worked her way up the ladder in the standings. But, a near-three year hiatus almost dashed Storey's BMX dreams.
Storey is from San Diego, Calif., and moved to Hartselle after her dad retired from the Marines. She started BMX in California, but there was a problem when her family moved to Hartselle.
"We couldn't find a track anywhere around here," Charles said. "We had to go to Memphis to practice."
Then, the Storey's found a track in Birmingham with a lot of tradition.
Oak Mountain BMX is the oldest National Bicycle League BMX track in the nation. It's Storey's home course, where last weekend she finished second at the Southeast Regional in all three of her motos and third in main event.
A lot of traveling required…
Storey races in several states across the nation. Well, the states within an 11-hour drive, anyway.
"That's our limit," Charles said. "We won't go any farther than that."
Samantha and her dad travel to events by motor home.
"We basically live in a motor home during the summer," Charles said laughing. The two will go no farther than Indiana or Pennsylvania. At least by motor home.
Samantha races in the 15-year old division, and is competitive despite going to less than half the events. She races 18 of the 48 events, and is still ranked fourth in the nation.
"We leave every Friday to get to the track by Saturday, depending on how far away it is," Charles said. "We left last Thursday to go to Birmingham (for the Southeast Regional) so she could get a little extra practice in."
Training and injuries…
BMX is like any other sport. It requires a lot of conditioning.
"I do a lot of training," Samantha said. "I'll do hot laps, where I get on the start and ride as hard as I can back and forth. I work my legs out mostly."
Being in good shape, perhaps, prevents injuries. But a freak accident in Pennsylvania last year could not be avoided.
Flying through a rhythm section, Samantha shifted her weight too far forward, causing her to fly over the handlebars. It was a scary moment according to Charles.
"It put her in the hospital," Charles said. "She had a concussion. It wasn't good."
"It was just another accident," Samantha said.
But Charles said he never worries about Samantha's ability. It's other riders who concern him.
"I have confidence in her skills," he said. "My main concern is about the other pack riders who aren't as experienced. It's like Nascar, if a rookie driver drives among seasoned veterans. It's the same type of thing."
A trip down under…
At the end of last season, the NBL held "The Grands."
It was a chance to see the best in the nation, and Samantha did not disappoint.
She made it through the motos, but could not advance past the semis. However, she ended up ranked 13th in the nation. The top 16 were invited to Australia.
At the UCI BMX World Championship, Samantha competed against 24 other riders in her class.
After a third place finish in her moto, and another third place finish in the semi, Storey raced to eighth place in the main event of the 15-year old class.
A total of 27 countries sent riders to the event, with Australia, Canada, Europe and The Netherlands being represented in her class alone.
A look to the future…
It was announced in July the 2008 Olympics will include a BMX exhibition. Every year thereafter it will be an official Olympic event.
Samantha may be there.
"I'm going to turn pro next February when I turn 16," Samantha said. "I'll have to start all over again."
As Samantha is ranked fourth in the nation now, when she turns pro, she will be at the bottom. She will work her way back through the ranks to national attention.
As for Charles, she can compete for as long as she likes.
"Whatever her choice is, I will support her," he said. "If she wants to go into the higher echelons of the pros, I'll support her. If she decides tomorrow she doesn't want to do it any more, that's fine, too."
Samantha will compete in Indiana this weekend. She is preparing for "The Grands" in Louisville, Ky., at the end of the month.