Local teen takes another step toward his dream as he competes this week on world’s biggest amateur motocross stage

On track for success ... Waukon teenager Carson Johanningmeier is pictured at left above on his motocross dirt bike and at right above holding some recent motocross award winnings that are the result of the work he has put in on the dirt track over the years. Johanningmeier is competing this week at the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee. Submitted photos.

Soaring to even greater heights ... Waukon teenager Carson Johanningmeier sails his motorcycle over a pick-up truck and UTV in a jump stunt he performed as part of his enjoyment of riding motorcycles and competing in motocross. Johanningmeier is competing this week at the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee, where he hopes to take another step forward in the pursuit of his dream of becoming a professional motocross racer. Submitted photo.

by Lissa Blake

Waukon teenager Carson Johanningmeier has one goal in mind: to become a professional motocross racer.

He is well on his way to achieving that goal, having recently qualified for the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch - the world’s biggest amateur motocross race - currently taking place this week in Hurricane Mills, TN. Johanningmeier has qualified in both the 250cc and 450cc races for this year’s national grand finale. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the national championship event has been hosted since 1982 at the ranch home of country music legend Loretta Lynn and has served as a career launch pad for some of the biggest names in professional motocross and supercross racing, including Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey.

Johanningmeier recently visited with The Standard, fresh off the track at the Allamakee County Fairgrounds Thursday evening, July 22, where he won all six of his races during the motocross event held as part of this year’s grandstand entertainment for the annual county fair.

“I really debated whether or not I should race at the fair, because I don’t want to get hurt before Loretta’s,” said Johanningmeier, adding he was glad that he did.

“After this, I won’t be riding too much. I’ll just be getting my bike ready to go,” he said.

When asked who he trusts to work on his bikes, Johanningmeier said he and his buddy, Garret Miller, who also races, do most of it themselves.

“I just kind of learned (how to work on bikes) by myself. I started breaking stuff and had to figure it out and fix it on my own,” Johanningmeier said.

Johanningmeier is the son of Travis Johanningmeier of Harpers Ferry, and Roxie and Mike Elsbernd of Waukon.

This year he’ll be in 11th grade, and it will be the third year he has attended high school classes online through the Iowa Connections Academy.

“Two years ago I started online school so I could ride more. I’ve been riding and training and going south each winter when I have the time. My mom usually goes with me, but this past winter I stayed by myself at a training facility in South Carolina,” he said.

Last winter, Johanningmeier began working extra hard in an effort to qualify for this week’s Nationals race. “I just put my head down and started riding and qualified,” he said.

He explained in order to make the cut, riders have to finish among the leaders in a series of qualifying races. He advanced out of both an Area Qualifier event held at Oak Ridge MX in Garwin April 18 and then out of the Regional Qualifier hosted by Spring Creek MX in Millville, MN June 19-20.

To pay for his race expenses, Johanningmeier works full-time for T.J.’s Fencing in the summer, but also relies on the support of various sponsors. His local sponsors include Side Street Cycles of Waukon and TJ’s Fencing of Harpers Ferry. Others include FXR and Black Diamond MX, and he is always looking for more.

In a summarizing resumé he sends to prospective sponsors, he lists his 2021 wins, which included third- and sixth-place finishes at the Loretta Lynn Regional qualifier, two firsts and a second at Spring Creek and two firsts at the Iowa State MX Championship.

“During the summer months, I take every opportunity that I am given to race and train and work full-time to help cover the expenses of motocross,” said Johanningmeier.

His hobbies include fishing, mountain biking, snowboarding, working on his track and spending time with his family and friends.

“My ambition is to become the best rider I can be through continued training, racing, proper nutrition and exercise - both physically and mentally,” Johanningmeier shared. “Hopefully, I can make my hometown proud.”

Fans can follow Johanningmeier’s progress at https://mxsports.com/welcome and watch live at https://racertv.com. He will compete at various times throughout this week in the 250cc and 450cc classes.