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Only 17, Rochester racer is a motocross veteran

By Nate Langworthy

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Cory Vandal has been riding motocross competitively since he was 5.

"I started off on a little Suzuki JR50," he said. "I finished last in my first two races, but then came back and got fifth in state."

He never looked back.

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He has raced every season for 11 years now. This year, the 17-year-old Rochester native completed the season as the American Motorcyclists Association’s District 23 (Minnesota) champion in both the 16-24 B and the 250cc B classes. Vandal rides a Honda CFR45OR cycle.

He was also the Midway MX Survivor Series champion and the Extreme Elite Survivor champion, an honor he earned by compiling the most points at the Midway Recreation Park track during the last season.

Vandal considers a race at Midway as the best of the season, though he did not win.

"I crashed at the beginning," he said. "I guess I was just mad or something. I went as fast as I could for the rest of the race and finished third."

Vandal earned these distinctions despite missing six of the 19 AMA races with a separated shoulder.

"The races I was in this year, if I didn’t win them I was pretty close," said Vandal, a junior at Rochester Mayo.

Vandal suffered the injury in a crash in June, but his rehab went quickly and he was back on the tracks by the end of July.

Injuries are a part of motocross and they have not made Vandal think twice about getting back on his bike. He has broken his collar bone twice in the last six years.

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"I think motocross is the hardest sport to walk away from," he said. "All of your friends for six months of the year are at the tracks and it makes you want to come back."

Vandal was introduced to the sport through his family before his first day of kindergarten.

"One day my dad brought a motocross magazine home," Vandal said. "I looked through it and knew that’s what I wanted to do."

Vandal got a real taste for competition riding in the 13- to 14-year-old Class C age grouping.

"There was a super-mini that I was in that was tough," Vandal said. "I almost won it. It was a challenge."

In recent years, Vandal has taken his riding to a new level, attracting corporate and local sponsers.

In 2006, he placed fourth in the AMA classes that he dominated this year. He also placed second at the Midway MX track in the 16- to 24-year old age bracket, and sixth at that track in the 125cc races while riding a different bike than normal.

Vandal will not rest on his laurels even though the season is over. He already raced in two AMA Class A events this past year in anticipation of his move up to the highest level of amateur racing next season. He won his first Class A race in the 16- to 24-year-old age bracket, and placed third in the 250 race.

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To stay in shape, Vandal jogs and makes a trip to the tracks to ride whenever possible. He plans to train in Oklahoma this winter.

"The best way to train is to just get out and ride," he said.

Vandal plans to enter into qualifying races for the Loretta Lynn races in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., where the best of the best in amateur racing will compete next July.

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