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Sue Bush
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Mariah’s MX Moxie

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, September 11, 2005

NEMX motocross racer Mariah Andrew, 10, of Pownal, Vt.
Pownal, Vt. – Mariah Andrew, 10, is causing a bit of a stir in the New England region motocross world.

The Pownal Elementary School fifth-grade student started competing in New England Motocross and Winchester Speedpark MX racing events in the fall of 2004. During the recent Labor Day weekend, Mariah claimed second place in the 7- to 9- year-old division at a New England Regional Championship event hosted at the Winchester track.
Riders had to select a MX racing district to represent; Mariah chose to race for the Winchester Speedpark during the regional championship competition.

Eyes On The Prize

Capturing second place earned Mariah a lot of attention and a generously-sized trophy, but her eye was on the top spot, she said.

“I was really happy to be second, but I wanted that first place,” she said during a Sept. 11 afternoon interview. “The trophy is taller than I am.”

Mariah on her Kawasaki 65cc motocross motorcycle. The tallest trophy represents a New England Regional Championship second-place finish.
Mariah competed with over 40 riders during the championship race. Her race was run on a Kawasaki 65cc motocross bike with a two-stroke engine. The bike has served her well; Mariah has collected so many MX trophies that the home she shares with her parents Craig and Crystal O’Dell and five-year-old brother Brodie is dangerously close to being overrun with testaments to her skill.

Bigger Bike, Bigger Win

Mariah recently challenged competitors on a larger Kawasaki 85 cc bike, but the shift to a bigger bike didn’t interrupt her winning status. During a late August MX competition in Derby, Vt., Mariah ran the 85 in competition for the first time – and took first place.

“I was so psyched!” she said. “That was a good weekend. I love the 85, it goes faster and I can twist the throttle farther.”

Craig O’Dell agreed that the weekend was successful.

“We came home with seven trophies,” he said.

Races held over the Sept. 9-11 weekend showed that Mariah has plenty of mettle; the Kawasaki 65 she planned to ride developed problems at the Winchester track. The family hadn’t brought along Mariah’s back-up bike, and it seemed that Mariah would have to forgo racing and lose points acquired as part of the competitions. Points permit riders to move up in class and also determine class rankings.

But all was not lost. Someone offered Mariah use of a bike and at the last minute, she took her starting line place aboard an unfamiliar motorcycle.

She finished fourth.

Mariah is able to compete in the 7- to 9-year-old division for 2005 NEMX and Winchester Speedpark events because her birthday is in May, which falls within the January to June birthday cut-off point.

She’s been riding motocross since she was three years old and began competing during 2004 fall series events, held from August through October. She finished with a seventh-place standing in her division at the end of the series. She is currently ranked ninth in the 2005 fall series NEMX women’s division, which is an open age category.

Fun On The Ice

Mariah practices year-round on an outdoor dirt track on the family property. One to three-hour practice sessions occur up to three times a week and in the winter, the track is plowed so that Mariah can sharpen her MX abilities.

Mariah and her Kawasaki 85 cc MX racing bike.

“Riding on the ice is great for [developing] balance,” said Crystal O’Dell.

“And for when to shift and when to use the clutch and when not to,” Mariah said.

Whether racing or practicing, Mariah is fully dressed in protective gear that includes an industry-approved helmet, goggles, gloves, and knee and elbow padding.

Any riding is forbidden unless the gear is on, said Crystal O’Dell.

Just Gotta Hold It

Schoolwork is a priority; Mariah must maintain good grades in order to compete, said Crystal O’Dell. The Winchester Speedpark MX series includes a report card review and also offers “good student” incentives and a “Read to Race” program.

Despite her strong track performances, Mariah admitted to a pre-race issue that plagues her as she waits at the starting line.

“I feel like I have to pee,” she said with a giggle. “But most of the time it goes away.”

Crystal O’Dell said that she bites her nails as the racing begins, and Craig O’Dell sometimes experiences a touch of nervous stomach.

But none of that interferes with Mariah’s ability to pour it on when it counts, Crystal O’Dell said.

“I’m her biggest fan and Craig is her coach,” she said. “He’s always right up there, working with her. They work well together.”

Sponsors Lining Up

A fully-geared Mariah and her two MX racing motorcycles
Mariah has found numerous sponsors for her MX “Team 334.” Sponsors include, Richard Bisson Excavating, Dunlop Tires, Decal Works, Renthal, FCR Suspension, Boyesen, Twin Air, and Ready Filters.

“I appreciate all my sponsors, and my friends, and especially my family,” Mariah said. "It was my grandmother’s idea for me to do this, so thank you, Gram.”

Support for Mariah’s MX racing is solid within the Northern Berkshire/Southern Vermont region, Crystal O’Dell said, and added that during the July 31 Pownal Fair, dozens of people bought 50/50 raffle tickets that benefited Mariah’s trip to the NEMX championship event.

Paul Oleskiewicz won the prize money, and then donated the cash back to the family for the trip.

“We did tell everybody who bought tickets that we’d let them know how Mariah did,” Crystal O’Dell said. “And we really want to thank Paul. It was that raffle and his generosity that made the trip possible and she took second place.”

MX Heroes and One On The Way

Mariah said she is seriously considering a career in MX racing and has a dream that she’d love to turn to reality.

“My dream is to be standing next to Ricky Carmichael [current, six-time AMA 250cc Motocross Championship winner], and Bubba Stewart,” she said, and then added about six more names to her “wants to be like” list.

Not yet on the list but certainly someone to think about is Brodie O’Dell. Brodie also competes a bit on a 50 cc bike, and has won several trophies in his division. While the Sunday interview spotlight focused on Mariah, Brodie charmed his way into an offer to photograph him atop his motorcycle with his trophy collection.

Brodie O'Dell, 5, is ready to carve his place as a MX racer.

Brodie agreed that he is an “up-and-comer,” and “the guy to watch.”

“I’m a big Ricky Carmichael fan, too,” he said.

Information about NEMX is available at the Internet web site. Information about the Winchester Speedpark is available at the Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at or at 802-823-9367.

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