NEW ULM - For some people, winning just seems to come naturally.
Relatively new to the sport of ATV racing, 12-year old Tyler Mack is what most people involved in the sport would consider a quick learner.
Mack, in fact, has pretty much dominated every level he's competed at since he started racing his four-wheeler at the age of eight.
Tyler Mack with his racing hero Doug Gust in Walnut, IL.
Mack, the son of Rusty and Lisa Mack, became a national champion in his class during the 2010 AMA ATV Motocross Championship.
This past year, Mack raced at the 90 CVT level which is usually made up of racers age 8-15. In his first year of racing at the National level, Mack took home the championship trophy at the end of the season, not bad for someone getting to know the tracks for the first time.
Prior to last year, Mack raced at the 90 Stock level in Jordan, which was Motokazi. There, he won pretty much every race he entered at that level and twice won the championship.
After that, he decided to move up a level and try out racing at the national level. There, he continued his winning ways and once again won the overall trophy.
The competition was obviously much mored difficult at the national level. But once he figured things out, he began to win there too and he said competing at the national level was more rewarding in the long run.
"It was a lot [more fun] than the District 23, because in District 23 I got the lead and I just kept going," Mack said. "In the nationals, I had to actually work to get into the lead."
Mack first got involved with four-wheelers after his dad and his his grandfather introduced him to riding.
Rusty said he had no problems letting him get on the ATV and never felt nervous.
"I'm a gear-head from way back, so it was pretty easy," Rusty Mack said. "For whatever reason, he's had natural driving abilities from the get-go, even when he was really little. He always paid attention to when I was driving and he just knew what to do right away."
For the Macks, and mainly Rusty, doing weekly maintenance on the four-wheeler has pretty much become a second job. On a busy week, it's not uncommon for Rusty to be working on and fine-tuning the machine for as many as 40-50 hours.
After weekly maintenance, the Macks get ready for Tyler's competition, and the site rotates every couple of weeks when there is a competition. He has a race every other weekend, so there's plenty of traveling that goes on during the summer.
"It's basically every other weekend, [this year] we start a month earlier, and then we have more time off in the middle of the summer," Rusty Mack said. "Most of these [trips], our drive time would average 15-16 hours. Last year, our longest one was 24 hours to get there in Virginia, so that was brutal."
The family loads up the motor home and they haul his ATV in a trailer behind the vehicle. After many hours on the road, they arrive to their destination and get ready for the weekend.
Although the hours are long in the vehicle on the way to the track, Tyler usually does homework during the school months to stay busy and so that he doesn't fall behind in school.
Once they arrive to their destination, Tyler has three practice runs on Friday at each track. He then has a race on both Saturday and Sunday, and there the results are tabulated into points. Sunday's race counts for more points if a tie-breaker is needed, but Tyler knows he has to take both races seriously.
This year, the season starts the last week of February in Georgia. Mack and his family will do quite a bit of traveling since there are tracks in Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Ohio, New York, Michigan and Tennessee. The season runs until the middle of August.
Currently, Tyler is a student at Holy Trinity Middle School. But once the summer rolls around, it's difficult not to find him not on his four-wheeler.
While the competition at the tracks is always fun for him, he also enjoys just hanging out with the guys at the track before the races start. It's helped him form countless friendships with racers all over the country.
"It was pretty fun, I got to meet new people," Mack said about last year.
The challenge for Tyler this year is to try to repeat as champion. It won't be easy as he is going from an automatic to a manual transmission and will be racing in the 90 modified class.
Another big challenge this year is to remember each track specifically and how they get after the riders have been racing on them.
"I'll try to remember all the tracks and how they got rutted up," he said. "[I'll] Try to remember the areas of the track and where they got bad."
Over the years, Tyler has managed to put on quite the display of trophies from racing. He has more than 120 of them and the collection will only keep growing.
"One room in our basement, the wall is full of them," Tyler said.
"His room is fixed up like a race room," Rusty said. "He's got his race colors, black and orange, and we've got some of his favorite race trophies in there and plaques from the nationals."
Although the Macks do most of the work themselves on the ATV, Tyler does have a number of sponsors that help with the cost of parts and supplies when needed. Those sponsors include Motowoz Shocks, RootRiver Powersports, Schanus Plumbing and Heating, RC Motorsports, DC Motorsports, Motorsports Unlimited, and Dominator Axle.
Mack's quest for a second consecutive national championship begins February 26-27 at the Aonia Pass track in Washington, Georgia. To keep track of Tyler this year go to www.atvmotocross.com.