The Butler and McKinney families have been riding dirt bikes and ATVs for years and many members of the McKinney family have raced competitively. Now, a new generation of riders and racers are tearing up the track and carrying on the family tradition.
Jason Butler and his aunt, Sarah McKinney, ages 7 and 11, respectively, are the most recent members of the family to take up the sport. Jason, according to his mother Brittany Butler, was introduced to the sport through pictures of his uncle competing on a dirt bike.
“He saw pictures of my little brother competing on a dirt bike and with all these trophies, and decided that was what he wanted to do,” said Brittany.
Jason got his first gas-powered quad when he was 3 years old.
The following year, when he was 4, Jason competed in his first ever race at the Highland County Fair. Jason took home third place in that race and never looked back.
“Jason loves riding and racing so much. His whole room is covered in dirt bikes and four-wheelers. It is the coolest room in our house,” Brittany said.
When Jason started racing he rode a 1985 Honda and competed at several other county fairs throughout the state. He has since upgraded to a factory built DRR-50 racing quad. Jason has also taken a step up in competition and recently completed his series at the Battle in the Barn in Jackson.
Jason brought home a second place finish in the series as he scored 79 points, 31 points behind the first place finisher, on the season despite missing two races.
Jason is not just a one-trick pony, however. He also competes in every sport available to him in the Lynchburg-Clay school district and is also an honor roll student.
“The honor roll is a deal breaker. If he isn’t on the honor roll he cannot race,” said Brittany.
Sarah McKinney comes by her love of off road racing honestly as she follows in the footsteps of her older brother and even competes using the same number, 490, he used before giving up the sport.
Like Jason, Sarah got her first gas-powered quad at the age of 3 and competed in her first race when she was 4 years old.
Now, seven years into her amateur racing career, Sarah competes in two classes with her DRR-90 racing quad at the Battle in the Barn. The youth girls ATV class is Sarah’s top event and she finished second in the event despite a crash on the first lap of her final race of the series.
Sarah also competes in the youth ATV 0-90 class and finished third in the class. The youth ATV 0-90 class is mostly comprised of male riders and Sarah loves to compete against them.
“I think some of the boys kind of overlooked her when she first started, but now they know the deal. They don’t cut her any slack. I call her the ‘Hole Shot Queen’ because her quad is so fast she usually gets the hole shot over the boys,” her sister Brittany said.
Sarah is also a high achiever off the track as she currently does cheerleading at Lynchburg, is on the honor roll and has perfect attendance.
Jason and Sarah spend a lot of time together on and off the track. Sarah visits at least two days a week when Brittany watches her for their father. During that time Sarah and Jason are either outside riding, watching super cross or motocross races on television or playing video games as their favorite riders. Jason’s favorite rider is Ken Roczen while Sarah prefers to cheer for Eli Tomac.
The operations side of things is a family affair as Brittany, her husband Jesse Butler, father Dale McKinney, and stepmother Jenny Mobley help to ensure that everything goes smoothly for both Sarah and Jason.
“There have been times that my husband Jesse and my dad have been working on the quads at the track to make sure that the kids get to compete. Jenny helps a lot with my daughter Holley watching her and things like that. I get to take Jason to the starting gate, which he loves. It is just a family affair and we all love it,” Brittany said.
There are currently no plans for Jason to move up to national events. But, Brittany says that will “depend on what he wants” when he gets older. Sarah has hopes of competing at the Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Tennessee this summer, but nothing is set in stone at this time.
Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.