Watch now: Charleston-native flying high as a professional supercross racer | Local

Lyle Ellerbee

CHARLESTON — When Jace Owen was four-years-old, his parents gave him a two-stroke 50cc Yamaha PW50 motorcycle to ride around their property. 

Without any training wheels, the Charleston-native rode that bike all day and into the night until he eventually fell asleep. 

“It was pretty wild honestly. I just rode and rode and rode and then I just plopped over,” Owen said laughingly. “My parents were like ‘I think this is something that our kid definitely is going to enjoy doing and we’ll do it for fun and just see where it takes him.'”

Almost 23 years and over 100 races later, Owens is set to compete at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Saturday, April 9, for Round 13 of the Monster Energy American Motorcyclist Association Supercross Championship.

Supercross is an indoor dirt-bike racing sport that evolved from motocross, which is typically raced over a longer outdoor course. The track varies with obstacles, including sharp curves and ramps to overcome. 

With seven career top 10 finishes in the 250cc supercross class, Owen has been racing all over the world ever since turning pro in 2014 and competed in AMA Supercross Championships in the east and west regions of the United States.

“He’s got to see a lot and it’s been a good education for him,” said Michael Owen, Jace’s father. “It’s made him very worldly and just by racing motorcycles.” 

Prior to going pro, Michael said him and his wife, Jill, would take Jace to amateurs races across the country ever since he started competing and it would create relationships with people they would not have met any other way. 

As far as riding motorcycles, Michael said he was exposed to it as a child growing up and it is one of those traits that you sort of pick up at an early age and later develop.

“If you’re exposed to hunting or fishing at a really early age, it’s something that just stays with you the rest of your life,” he said. “It’s something that him and I have done together, basically his whole life and most of mine.” 

Having placed ninth overall for the 250cc class in Indianapolis, Indiana, three weeks ago, Owen said he is looking forward to seeing his friends and family this weekend and hopes to place on the podium somewhere in the top five. 

Riding for team Muc-Off/FXR/IAMACOMEBACK/Club MX Yamaha Racing, Owen has had a considerable comeback after suffering from a torn ACL in 2018 and a broken ankle a couple months later.

Although he got a late start for training this season, Owen said he feels like he has been able to grow as a rider these past months and is currently sitting at a career high of 10th place in the Eastern Regional 250cc Supercross Class.

“With me being 27, I’m not no young gun in the sport anymore, but I still feel like I have so much growing and so much potential that my career is far from being done,” Owen said. 

His career in motocross first started early on as a child riding his 50cc bike on tracks around his house and parents property before competing in his first flat-track race at age six. 

Wanting to do more jumps and cut around corners, he then transitioned into motocross where his talents as an amateur shined through and won over 25 National Championships. 

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Finally going into the pro leagues, he struggled for a few years before training with former professional motocross and stock car driver Ricky Carmichael in 2016-17. 

From there on, he came across arenacross — which is also an indoor racing sport like supercross but in a smaller setting — and ended up winning a championship in 2019 that reinvigorated his love for the sport. 

“My mind and goals were still set on supercross,” Owen said. “Supercross is where I want to be and I want to be successful.” 

Residing North Carolina, Owen trains frequently with his teammates at the Club MX facility in South Carolina where they have multiple tracks to tear through and hone their skills. 

“I think a lot of people, sponsors, and manufacturers are still realizing that Jace has not hit his peak yet, even though he’s been racing pro for over 10 years,” Michael said. “It’s a rare thing that he wouldn’t make a main event and wouldn’t be in the top 10, day after day, and he’s still got room for improvements.” 

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As for his hometown, Owen said he loves the Midwest and still visits from time to time as his parent, Jill and Michael, still own their motorcycle dealership, Owen Motor Sports, in Charleston and Effingham, but as long as he riding he prefers to be somewhere warmer to train. 

“Being from Illinois, there’s not very many guys that have made it to the pro-ranks from there,” Owen said. “I wouldn’t been able to do that without my family and sponsors and just the support group and system from soo many people that helped me out.” 

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