ATV Motocross

Tuesday Feature: Cody & Ethan

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 | 12:00 AM

There are some amazing stories throughout the pits in the ITP Tires/Moose Racing AMA/ATVA Pro National Motocross Championship series. But few provide the power and inspiration that Cody Shelton and Ethan Lehmer's stories do. Both racers suffer from Cerebral Palsy, but they haven't let that deter their ambition to compete out in the dirt with the other kids their age. Their story cements ATV Motocross’ reputation as the ultimate family sport. Both families searched for a hobby they could enjoy with their sons, but found their options limited with traditional stick and ball sports. Today they have found a home in the world of ATV racing where the only handicap their disability gives them, is how fast they can walk to their quad before they ride to the starting gate and get ready to race.


Cody Shelton


Cody Shelton at the charge at Muddy Creek


I ran into 12-year-old Cody Shelton at the Oakley rig at Muddy Creek. He and his father Mitchell were just there hanging out, watching the races. After a handshake and a brief introduction they invited me back to their pit area where I could talk to them a little about how Cody got into racing. His father, Mitchell, told me about his days racing quads in the Pro Am class and his passion for the sport. When Cody was born nine weeks early and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy he never gave up on finding something they could do together as a family.


““We just want to spread the message about how much fun we have,” said Mitchell. ““There are thousands of kids across the country that share Cody’s condition and there is no reason at all for them to stay stuck at home. We are having the best time ever just being at the races together.”


Cody got into racing after following the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Championships. When he learned that he could compete at Loretta’s in the ATV Dirt Days, all he could think about was racing in Hurricane Mills.


““I started out on dirt bikes when I was four, then my legs stopped working so good for me, then I got into quads,” offered Cody. ““I love racing. It’s fun to go out there and battle with other guys my age.” When asked if he had any difficulties on the track because of his condition he just smiled and said, ““Well, one time I crashed and the flag man was asking me if I was OK. I kept telling him yes, then he asked me why I wasn’t getting back on and riding off. I said, ”˜I’m trying, just give me a second!’”


Cody works out with a trainer that helps him through special exercises that have increased the mobility in his legs. It’s inspiring to see a racer like Cody with such a positive outlook. He looks up to Pro Am rider Cody Gibson as his idol and watches every one of his races. So, the next time you’re watching the 90cc CVT (8-15) and 90cc Auto Sr. (12-15) classes, make a little extra noise for the rider with #15 on his plates.


Ethan Lehmer


Seven-year-old, Ethan Lehmer climbed aboard a 50cc quad when he was only 3 years old. His parents had hoped riding the ATV around the yard would be good physical therapy for his legs. Ethan fell in love with the quad right away and wanted to ride all the time. Soon, Brent Miller (No. 19 A Class) began working with Ethan during his first visit to the track and the two have been riding together ever since.


Ethan with his trophy at the ATV Stampede


While Ethan is one of the smaller riders in his division, his speed is astonishing. Lehmer is the 2007 track champion at Thunder Ridge in Edmeston, NY in the 50cc junior class. This year, Ethan is riding a Cobra 50 ECX and is averaging around a top ten finish thus far.


I was able to speak with Ethan at Muddy Creek, but he wasn’t having the best of days. He woke up feeling ill, then had a nasty practice crash, but he still took time to talk to me about his racing.


““I just like going fast and competing on my quad,” said Ethan. ““I like watching Joe Byrd and John Natalie Jr. in the pro classes and maybe someday I can go as fast as they do.”


Cody and Ethan represent two of the best reasons to go to the races. They inspire those around them, because sometimes there is more to it than big sponsors, tall trophies, and winning.