Riley Pemberton, 18, is on the fast track.
The Stephenville resident - son of Jay and Kaylee Pemberton - is taking his speed, determination and Yamaha 250s MX (motocross) motorcycle to Three Palms Action Sports Park in Conroe Sunday. He will be competing for an AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) state title.
Pemberton qualified for the race after bringing home a pair of championship titles in two divisions - College Boy (17-24) and Amateur Open - from the AMA District 41 Championship at Underground MX Park in Kemp last weekend. He said being crowned at Underground was the result of a four-track series that also included races at River Valley MX in Boyd, Buffalo Creek in Canton and Johnsonville MX Farm.
"I am hoping to finish off the series with another win," he said, adding a state title could add up to a trip to Florida over Thanksgiving for a chance at a national throphy.
Pemeberton said the district series was his first competition is several months following significant injuries to his knee and ankle. He said after being sidelined by the damage to his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament) and meniscus, he hit the series with "something to prove."
But injuries are nothing new for the aspiring professional racer who said he entered his first race at age seven at Lone Star Arena.
"Since I got started, I have gone through five or six surgeries," Pemberton said, adding pain and rehabilitation doesn't overshadow the "adrenaline rush" the sport delivers.
"I'm hooked," he said. "I want to make my living racing. I would love to make it to the X Games."
When asked about professional racers that inspire his rides, Pemberton said he looks up to Chad Reed, an Australian motocross and supercross racer.
"He is a real smooth rider," Pemberton said.
While he might not be racing at Reed's level yet, Pemberton does have a couple goals he believes are within his reach, including a return trip to the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., for the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship.
"I made it one year," he said. "I was in the top 10, but overall, I did not do so well."
For now, Pemberton said his focus is Three Palms and the final edit of a film - "Shreds" - currently being produced by one of his sponsors, Erath County-based L16 Films, which is expected to be released next year.
And there is no doubt that his corporate sponsors and No. 1 supporters - "Gramma" Jackie Pemberton, his parents and canine companion "Moto" - will be cheering for him as he hits the track Sunday.