By Tom Rohrer
Over the last four years, Elliot has risen to the highest level of amateur Motocross racing, tallying three national titles since 2009.
Competing in A Class of the AMA and NMA Motocross circuit, Elliot earned two national titles in 2009 and another in 2010. His second championship, Elliot’s first in the 250 C stock category, came at the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., the biggest amateur event in the world.
“My most memorable was at the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National,” Elliot said. “It’s the Biggest Amateur national event of the year and 2009 was the first year I attended. I won it and to tell the truth, that was one of the greatest feelings I’ve had so far in my career.”
Elliot’s success on the circuit, which includes national titles in 250 Mod Novice at the 2009 NMA event in Ponca City, Okla., and in 4 stroke, 250 cc at the 2010 Amateur Open of Motocross, is allowing the teenager to look forward towards a career as a professional rider.
“Right now, I’m considered an amateur pro,” Elliot noted. “It’s the highest ranking you can have as an amateur and you have to get a certain amount of points, pro am points, to get your pro license. I’m really close and if I get top 20 overall (at the 2012 Loretta Lynn Amateur National this upcoming August), I get my pro license automatically. After that I’ll do the last outdoor AMA event of the year and hopefully by January 2013 I can start Super cross at Anaheim 1.”
While Elliot is looking forward to the future, he is staying grounded, and keeping the situation in perspective.
“I’m not setting anything too high and I’m trying to ease into it,” Elliot said. “I’m just trying to qualify for the night show in Supercross or the main event in outdoor, and just work at progressively getting better and try to run the speed that these pros are running. I know I can put the time in at the gym and on the bike and at home, just got to pick up my race speed.”
Elliot’s ascent to the top of amateur racing is thanks in large part to a strong family unit, which includes father John, mother Suzanne and younger brother Garrett, which has supported and guided the talented rider to the top.
“One of the sacrifices we have to make is my dad not being at the track,” Elliot said. “He works all day so my mom has to help. For nationals or weekend races, my mom will load up the motor-home and my dad will fly in, that way he can be down there to help me out. It’s tough, but we find a way to make it work. “
John Elliot, a motocross rider himself growing up, knows the lifestyle and culture of the support requires nothing less than complete dedication.
“You pretty much sacrifice everything,” John Elliot said. “Friends, family, your house, your cars, your animals. It’s not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. It’s an addicting sport, once you win the biggest national championship in the world, things just progress from there. We make it work though as a family unit.”
However, the immense demands of the sport still do not dampen the Elliot’s love for riding.
“I think its special for me for a lot of reasons,” Elliot said. “I love it, I love the feeling of being in the air and going fast. I know my parents enjoy traveling and seeing all the hard work that they and I put in pay off. It’s just the greatest feeling in the world that you can have.”
In order to compete at the highest level of motocross, Elliot had to make the necessary adjustments in his scholastic and personal life.
“After seventh grade, I became home schooled, so I could spend the time at the track and the gym and be doing the things I need to do,” Elliot said. “Being at school with racing, I missed a lot of school. Teachers weren’t cooperating and we took the steps and decided for me to become home schooled.”
Along with maintaining his necessary studies, Elliot has a physically demanding practice schedule on the track, in the work-shop and in the gym.
“Going to the gym is very important and a lot of people think you just ride a bike a lot,” Elliot said, “I go to the gym just about every single day I can, many times before or after I ride. I try to lift free weights, a lot of balancing and a lot of core exercises and to keep all the muscles I use when riding as healthy and strong as I can.”
John Elliot’s knowledge of the sport’s mechanics has been passed down to his son and become a vital component of Conner’s success.
“My dad has been there a lot my whole riding career,” Conner Elliot said. “He helped me out when I was little, learning the ropes and he definitely knows what he is talking about. He keeps up on the bikes when I can’t, and he has taught me everything I need to know like bike maintenance and things I need to do to keep myself healthy and at the top of my game.”
Seeing his son dedicate himself to and succeed in the sport has been rewarding for John Elliot.
“As a dad who has been through it, you start your son with a little bike and allow them to have fun,” John Elliot said. “There comes a point where you see a glimmer of hope and think, there is a lot of talent. When he finally won the nationals, we realized we had something special. A lot of it is just raw talent and hard training combined. I mean, as far as being proud, he makes me proud every second of the day. He gets up, does his training and riding. We’ve got a long ways to go. We’re just cracking the shell. We’ve done what we’ve had to do amateur wise, and now we’re in the big time.”
Now Conner will be competing on the same stage as some of the riders he looked up to and followed growing up.
“When I was really young, back at the Tacoma Dome, when they were still racing there, I remember watching guys like Buddy Antunez,” Elliot said. “I started getting a little older and paying attention to the events on T.V. Travis Pastrana was my age and out killing it against the older guys. Ricky Carmichael is the greatest of all time for sure, and a guy like Ryan Villopoto who is from Washington, he is someone I follow. He’s won everything else and is one of the guys to beat right now. But I think I can eventually compete with these guys. Now, I’m just trying to make it, try and qualify and show some teams that I can make it with the right people and the right equipment behind me.”
Elliot, who trains at Straddleline ORV Park in McCleary and numerous other tracks around the state and region, is thankful to be looking back at success while still focusing on the future.