Some of the best off-road motorcycle racers in the world have been gathering for more than three decades at Spring Creek Motocross Park in tiny Millville, Minn. (population: roughly 200), and they’ll do it again Saturday at the Spring Creek Nationals.
Two of the biggest local names attached to the race in recent years are brothers Alex and Jeremy Martin, both of whom are in their mid-20s now and grew up racing in Millville on the track operated by their parents.
They’ll be back again this year, but there will be evidence of the track’s influence on an even younger rider on display as well.
Henry Miller, 20, a native of nearby Rochester, went to watch the races in Millville with his family when he was 6 and was instantly hooked.
“We found a dirt bike for sale the next week, and I raced it the next day,” Miller said. ‘‘I just hopped right into it.”
Fourteen years later, Miller is getting ready to compete in the Spring Creek Nationals for the second time. He was somewhat in awe of the experience a year ago, but this season Miller brings more maturity and confidence into the race after a career-best ninth-place finish in the 450cc pro class in his most recent Lucas Oil series event in Massachusetts.
“My season started out really rough, but it’s coming around really good,” he said. “In Massachusetts, I just got off to a good start and stayed with the top guys the whole race. I rode and had fun, kept my mind in it.”
Concentration is a big part of the battle in a 30-plus minute race of lap after lap. In the big picture of motorcycle racing, though, Miller has learned the ride is only part of the challenge.
“It’s my second year of racing pro. I’m just trying to get up and compete with the big boys,” he said. “It definitely takes a lot of hard work. You don’t just have things handed to you. You need to meet the right people, know the right people and build relationships.”
He’s dedicated himself to the craft. Miller was home-schooled, allowing him flexibility to learn and train. Since turning pro last year, he’s been living and training in South Carolina.
This weekend, though, offers a homecoming of sorts. On Tuesday, Miller was headed to Wisconsin to pick up a new racing bike before heading to Rochester.
At the race Saturday, he will have a huge contingent of family and friends there to watch — and maybe some extra adrenaline to go with it.
“You still get a big rush, especially when you’re doing really well in a race,” Miller said. “Once it’s over, you’re still going for a little while after.”