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Goin’ the dusty distance

Despite breaks, surgeries, Eliasons keep racing

Peggy Bradfield
Leader Staff Writer

It’s tough to be near the top of your game and face injury. Kooper Eliason knows the bite of being sidelined.
The 14-year-old 7th grade class president at Bear River Middle School suffered his break in April, just three races into the season last year. He was ranked third in points for his age group when he broke his leg. The previous season he finished second. Doctors repaired the spiral fracture of the tibia and a full break of the fibula, but something still didn’t seem to be right as the physical therapy progressed. What his specialist found was that he was missing the inside ankle bone on that same leg. He literally never had it.
The surgery, which happened around last Christmas, went well and he is now on schedule to resume desert motorbike competitions again in the next couple of weeks, his mother, Tawnie, said.
The family’s fascination with desert competitions began five years ago. The racing bug bit father, Shane, when he saw the Baja 500 race on T.V. He and Kooper decided to give desert motorcycle racing a try. After his first race Shane wasn’t converted. It was longer and more grueling than he had imagined. He told himself he would never do that again.
However, the bite must have endured through his initial dislike because he is beginning his sixth season. Last year he ended first in the Amateur “over 35 years old” class, receiving an embroidered coat at the Thanksgiving Point ceremony in November.
Kutter, 10, has the desert motorcycle racing fever, too. He and Kooper race in the mini division. Tawnie is the family’s solo pit crew and their biggest supporter. She makes sure everyone gets fueled every 30 to 40 miles in the grueling hours-long races.
A couple of years ago the family and its racing club (the Buzzards) even hosted their own desert race at the Eliason family ranch in Snowville. This year’s Snowville Stampede is scheduled for Sept. 18 and it is one of 12 races this year.
“Our 40 acre field turns into an R.V. parking lot,” Shane said. “It’s a pretty big deal that we have [this competition] locally.”
The sport is dangerous. Nearly every race there will be racers who break a collarbone, arm, or leg, Tawnie affirmed. Shane has broken an arm—his radius, up toward the elbow. It is rare when Life Flight doesn’t show up at a race.

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