LEX 18

Making a Difference: Earlywine Racing

Adversity – it’s not about when you encounter it, it’s about how you overcome it. For one family in Mason County, their personal adversity nearly destroyed all they worked for.

It’s a sport that’s not for the faint of heart: Motocross racing. But in Mason County, you’ll find riders of all ages tearing up the track. And while these riders may be tough on the outside, they also have hearts of gold. So when they were faced with a Goliath-sized problem, they didn’t back down. Instead, they built each other back up.

Driving down Walton Pike in Mason County, past the farms and the silos, just peeking up slowly over the horizon, you’ll see a 65-foot giant white dome in the middle of a farm. And even when it comes into focus, it’s not clear what this structure is. “A lot of people thought it was a UK football practice facility, an airplane hangar or a giant church. There were all kinds of rumors going around,” says Nikki Earlywine. “A lot of people were trying to figure out what it was,” says Bailey Adkins, a rider.

And it’s not until you go inside, that you see what this building is. This is Earylwine Racing.

“You are kind of in your own world here,” says Jonathan Ruggles, a rider.

The indoor motocross track is run by the Earlywine family. But even those who don’t share that last name, are still part of it.

“You have a whole different family when you come here and ride,” says Bailey Adkins.

On any given day, the track is packed, and most riders have cameras on their helmets. On March 2nd, 2012, those cameras were rolling.

“We really didn’t think it was any big deal at first,” remembers Nikki. Then that big deal came in at more than 60 miles per hour. “It was just a sickening feeling in your stomach,” says Nikki

Riders stuck inside the dome, forced to seek shelter using sandbags. The only thing they could do was wait out the storm amidst the deafening winds and the terrifying feeling so many felt on that day. “It was just really loud, you could hear it hitting the building,” remembers Caleb Earlywine, Nikki’s son.

Nikki and Caleb heard it all and watched it happen from their home right next door. They watched as their hard work, their business, their livelihood literally ripped apart. “You can hear all the half inch cables snapping,” remembers Nikki.

After the skies turned friendly once again, friends of the Earlywines started to ask the question on everyone’s mind. “A lot of people were wondering if we would be able to rebuild or not,” says Nikki.

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But for her, there was no doubt. This was the track she and her husband, Chris built together. The track her son Caleb started riding on as a toddler. A family who rode together and competed together. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first hardship they’ve been faced with. Nikki remembers the day it all changed for her and her family, at a race in Virginia in 2008. “He just said, ‘I need you to come with me,’ I jumped the fence and said, ‘Is he OK?”

Chris had a heart attack and died. “It was really sudden, hard to believe,” says Nikki.

Hard to believe Nikki and Caleb kept on going. They put on their helmets and took on the heartache head first; their community noticed.

“It’s something I cant explain, it’s passion, a way of life,” says Jonathan Ruggles, a rider.

“It means a lot. We don’t really have a lot of places to ride,” says Bailey Adkins, another rider.

So when the tornado tore apart their hard work and insurance wouldn’t cooperate, those who found comfort here joined together to rebuild. “A lot of them helped out with building stuff,” says Nikki. “You know, everyone has a different trade, we had plumbers, concrete workers, everything.”

They raised enough money to fill in the gaps and get riders back on track.

Now, through their hardship and hard-work, a family’s dream is alive and well thanks to a community that’s making a difference.

“Chris put his heart and soul into this,” says Nikki. “I’m sure he’s looking down smiling.”

Earlywine Racing is located at:

4248 Walton Pike
Dover, KY 41034

They can be reached by phone at: 606-883-3098 or via email: earlywine_racing@yahoo.com.

To learn more more about Earlywine Racing or to see a schedule, click here.

To see more pictures and videos from behind the scenes, click here.

If you’d like to nominate someone in your community who is making a difference, send an email to MakingADifference@LEX18.com, or email Nikki Burdine at NBurdine@LEX18.com.

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