The first time he saw it, the first time he went to the motocross track in Pavilion, there was something about the speed, the dust, the bikes flying over hills, the racing, that made then 8-year-old Joey Spadaro tell his dad, "I want to do that."
Seven years later, Joseph Spadaro says of his son, "He's a beast on the bike. A hard worker. Super competitive. He absolutely hates to lose. He will go above and beyond most boys, most men, because he doesn't like to be behind anybody."
That competitive spirit has won Spadaro his second trip to the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., starting on Aug. 2.
"That’s the most fun event," said Joey, who is now 15 and in the 10th grade at Le Roy High School. "Everyone there is fast. Everyone there knows what they’re doing. A bunch of people. The atmosphere is cool."
Joey didn't win his first race -- at Area 51 -- when he was 8 but he figures he's won more than 400 races in the local area since. He made it to the national event by finishing in the top six at the regional meet in Unadilla, NY. At that event, Joey ran three races coming in fourth, first, and ninth, for a fourth-place overall finish.
His father figures that makes Joey one of the 40 best in his class in the nation as he heads off to nationals.
"He's been a gear-head since he was tiny," Spadaro said. "He never rode a bike. He went from walking to riding a dirt bike. He never rode a bicycle until he was already riding a dirt bike. From his first race it was like, 'Woah, you already know how to do this.' "
Before this season, Joey raced in Class C and won more titles than he can count both at home and away. He's moved up a class and will be able to race in that class for two seasons.
Before going to Pavilion, Joey said, he had training wheels on his 50cc dirt bike. Those quickly came off after Pavilion and he took off to the races.
"I just thought it was really cool," Joey said. "I never thought I would be as good as the people I watched and it turned out I became better than the people I was watching."
He now runs a KTM 125 and a KTM 250.
During the off-season this year, Joey will travel to Chesterfield, S.C., where he will train at a motocross club. That off-season training is what helps elevate Joey to a pro-level rider, Spadaro said.
"If he can train in the off-season like the pros do, I think he can be a pro at a higher level," Spadaro said.
Yes, Joey does want to race dirt bikes for a living. It's what he loves to do and he loves to win.
"I enjoy it because I'm good at it," Joey said. "It's just fun to be good at something you love to do."