Jerry Lorenz

Jerry Lorenz gets airborne during a recent motocross race. The Morrice native has been competing as a racer ever since he was five years old. He’ll compete in a major motocross event in Buchanan today.

MORRICE — For Jerry Lorenz, motocross racing has been nearly a lifelong pursuit.

“I started when I was 5 years old,” he said. “When I was in high school, they wanted me to play football or basketball, but they said I couldn’t race during the season. That wasn’t going to happen.”

Lorenz, who lives in his hometown of Morrice, will be competing today in the Circle K National Motocross, part of the Lucas Oil Motocross Championships at the RedBud MX track in Buchanan, in the southwest corner of Michigan a few miles north of the Indiana border.

It’s one of the best-attended sporting events in Michigan in the summer, with crowds of up to 60,000 fans, he said.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking at first, but I”m to the point now where I’m used to it,” Lorenz says. “When you start the race, all that kind of fades away.”

Lorenz competes as a pro but, at age 30, also has a regular job working on the maintenance crew at a General Motors plant in Grand Blanc.

“I have a lot of sponsors, too, so that helps,” he said.

So, too, does an understanding boss.

“My boss’s son was a professional, so he understands,” Lorenz says, although he still uses his vacation days to compete in the winter in Florida.

Lorenz says he’s avoided serious injury for the most part.

“I’ve had a dislocated shoulder and a torn ACL,” he said. “But I’ve mostly avoided the surgeon. I haven’t missed more than a week until recently.”

That is, until May, when he suffered a compression fracture in his back after a hard fall during a race. He was sidelined for most of the last two months.

But he’s ready to go today.

Part of what many find appealing in motocross are the races in which drivers go high into the air after jumps. At Lorenz’s level, that’s the exact opposite of a winning strategy.

“The closer you stay to the ground, the better,” he said. “You’re able to go faster that way.”

Another key is taking corners as low as possible, a strategy called “scrubbing.”

“You want to make sure you’re as low as you can get on the corners,” he said.

Motocross has been a passion in the Lorenz family.

Jerry Lorenz ended high school as a sophomore and was homeschooled after that, graduating in 2006.

His brother, Dylan, who’s 25, also competes in motocross.

The brothers compete across the Midwest in the summer and Jerry Lorenz says he’ll be riding for as long as he can.

“As long as it’s still working and I’m healthy enough and can still compete,” he said. “If I’m running around in last place, I don’t want to be out there. But if I feel like I’m still competitive I’m going to keep on doing it.”

Lorenz is unmarried as of the moment, but doesn’t rule out the possibility of introducing the sport to his children.

“If they wanted to, I would put them into it,” he said. “But only if they ask.”

In the meantime, Lorenz continues racing.

“If you strive to be better, everything works out,” he said. “You always want to do your best.”

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