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November 3, 2009

 

ATV crown for Cortland teen

HowarthPhoto provided by Jeff Howarth
Cortland’s Doug Howarth hoists trophy after recent ATV victory.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

Most 14-year-old boys have a number of things on their minds.
Training hard and winning an ATV racing championship is probably not high on the list, but that’s exactly what Cortland’s Doug Howarth has recently done.
The McLean Road youngster won the Grand National Cross Country Series ATV Youth Championship for the recently completed season. Howarth competed in 10 of the 13 series events along the East Coast and into the Midwest and won seven of them. He placed second two other times and fifth once for a total of 159 points, eight points better than Vincent Harris.
Howarth started out with a the two runner-up finishes before three straight wins at Steele Crook (Morganton, NC), Big Buck (Union, SC) and Loretta Lynn’s (Hurricane Mills, TN). After missing the sixth stop of the series, he had his worst finish of the season. After his fifth-place run at Mountain Ridge (Somerset, PA), Howarth ran off wins at The John Penton (Millfield, OH), Snowshoe (Snowshoe, WV), Unadilla Valley and Yadkin Valley Stomp (Yadkinville, NC). That clinched the title for Howarth, who skipped the final two races of the season.
“It feels really good to win the title,” Howarth said. “I really feel like I can do whatever I want in this series.
“I’m not intimidated,” he added. “I feel positive that I can beat these people now.”
Harris, Blake Chirdon and Gage Rickman are some of the toughest competitors that Howarth feels he has to battle each race, along with his twin brother, Nick. In fact, in two of Doug’s wins, brother Nick took second place.
“He (Nick) had a rough season,” Howarth said. “In those two races where he finished second, I always thought he would catch me and pass me, but he never did. He just really had a lot of bad luck.”
What got Howarth into racing?
“I was three years old when my Dad told me they had a race in New York (State),” Howarth explained. “We went there and I have been racing ever since.”
Most of those early years were running races in series around New York State.
This was the second year on the GNCC circuit for Howarth. The biggest challenge actually comes with the traveling. Races take place in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, with one lone stop at the Unadilla Valley Complex in New Berlin. That’s means missing one or two days of school for the Lansing High School freshman.
“It was easier through eighth grade,” Howarth said of the school work that needed to be made-up while he was off racing. “It got much tougher this year when I became a freshman.”
“There is a lot of traveling, but it also means a lot of family time together,” he added. “We get everything together and head to the race.”
It is a family activity for Doug and brother Nick with Dad (Jeff) and Mom (Dana) heading the caravan to the race. Doug has said there is a lot of support from Lamont and Amy Jackson, who the Howarths met on the racing circuit, along with a lot of local support from friends.
The races that Howarth competed in this season were one hour in length, that time will change when he races in 2010.
“I am moving up to the Schoolboy Division,” Howarth said. The competition will be tougher and the races will be longer. The races will be two hours long.”
How does he train now and will that change with the tougher schedule coming up?
“Training really consists of riding the ATVs a lot,” he replied. “I also make sure to eat healthy foods, most of the time.”
With one championship to his collection, the future does look very bright.