01-25-2008

No Pain, No Gain for Steffani Burton/MOTOCROSS
By CLINT WOOD/ Brainerd Daily Dispatch in Brainerd, MN.

This 21-year-old's cellular phone voice mail includes statements like: "I'm out mobbing doubles and hucking triples. I¹ll hit you back when I run out off tear off¹s"

It's just one example of how much Steffani Burton, a 2004 Brainerd High School graduate, loves motocross racing. This racing jargon has become part of her vocabulary. Mobbing doubles means attempting to clear two jumps somewhat close together on one jump while hucking triples means jumping over three jumps a few feet apart in one attempt.

Burton's love of the sport went over the top in the fifth-annual 2007 AMA/Women's Motocross Association Drill Tech Cup Nov. 24-25 at Cycle Ranch MX Park in Floresville, Texas. Despite racing in two, four-lap motos with a broken top part of her right arm, she finished second overall in the 100cc and Up Women's Beginner class. She finished second in her first moto and third in the last one.

Steffani Burton raced her Suzuki RMZ 250 in the 2007 AMA/Women's Motocross Association Drill Tech Cup Nov. 24 at Cycle Ranch MX Park in Floresville,Texas.   
      
She said that she raced her 2007 Suzuki RMZ 250 to the early lead in both motos. This also earned her $100, $50 for each hole shot.

In both of these motos, she said her right hand, her throttle hand, went numb.

"I led the whole first moto," she said. "Literally three-fourths before the finish, this girl from Honduras Alexandra Lopez) passed me. I could not hang onto my bike anymore. I dropped my bike at the finish line." The second
moto she pulled the hole shot as well and ended up crashing. "The second moto was in the mud, usually I can race well in the mud. That's what we do a lot here in MN, but my arm just could not hold on with the mud. Plus it was the end of the week, and it (my arm) had enough." Burton worked her way up from 4th in the second moto to finish 3rd.

Lopez, racing a Kawasaki, won both motos in the event, the largest women's motocross event in history.

Burton, who underwent surgery Nov. 29 to repair her shoulder and arm, also finished 12th overall in the 125cc D (Beginner) class.
 
Burton said her doctors said she had a "warped sense of what pain really is" when they learned that she raced with this injury since March.

Her shoulder injury was a Bankart Labral Tear where the labrum, the rim orcuff of tissue around the shoulder socket, is torn off.

"Which means I broke the top part of my arm," she said.  "My labrum was 180 degrees in the wrong direction."

She said an excessive amount of cartilage was removed and her rotator cuff was also repaired. "My doctors said it was the worst shoulder they have ever repaired."

Her injury came at a track in Phoenix during the start, where a sweepingleft hand turn merged with the whoop (rhythm) section of the track.

"I had my bike in fifth gear and tapped," she said. "All my bike had."

She said she got pushed wide and hit the last whoop, her bike started to swap back and forth until it finally high sided. She was thrown off and run over by several of the other racers. "I had the hole shot that time too. I
don't even really remember finishing the race, it's all a blur."

She said fellow racers said she looked like "a rag doll in the air."

Burton, who competed in junior Olympic volleyball, Alpine skiing, track and golf while in high school, has only been involved in motocross racing for a little more than a year.

After graduating from high school, she also won a National Championship in freestyle reining in July, 2004, at the 12th annual Youth National Arabian and Half Arabian Championship Horse Show in Albuquerque, N.M., and in the same year went on to win the 2004 Canadian National Championship in Arabian Reining Seat Equitation 14-17 in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada in August 2004.

A senior design major at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., Burton decided to get into motocross racing as something to do in her spare time.

"So I hopped on a dirt bike," she said.

Burton's first ride on a track didn't start off well. She landed wrong off a double, dislocated her left shoulder and broke her arm.

"That was the first of the many injuries that I had in the last year and a half," she said.

Her injuries have included both wrists also. With another wrist surgery scheduled this coming February.

When asked why she keeps racing, she replied, "I absolutely love it, I would love to be able to quit, but I can't.

"There's nothing like that feeling of being on the line, all the bikes next to you are revving and you're getting ready to start and the gate drops.  There is nothing like that feeling in the world."

Burton admitted that she rides "scared" on the bike. "If I'm not scared, I'm not riding fast enough," she said. "What makes you fast is you twist and hold. If I come into a corner way too fast and I think I'm not going to make it, I just lay my bike over and think 'Huh.' It was scary coming in because I was coming in way too hot but that is how I ride."

After she is cleared by her doctors to race in May, her goals this season are to place well in some of the amateur national events she¹ll attend and win the Texas race. Her long-term goal is to remain in racing.

"I would love to stay in racing, love to advance and actually do something with it. Of course I need to have a real job to support it," she said.

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