AVON PARK – It could be the middle of a grueling four- to six-mile race, competing with dozens of other racers through dirt, mud, over bumps and hills and out in the heat, cold or rain.
But throughout the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) quad motocross races, not only is Brandon Frazier keeping his eyes and concentration on the course ahead of him, he’s literally keeping them on his life.
Brandon competes not only as a five-time ATV motocross national series champion, he has also got Type 1 juvenile diabetes.
Since March 8, Brandon has won five consecutive championships in the AMSOIL Grand National Cross-Country (GNCC) ATV four-wheel motocross series. ATV motocross is a four-wheel vehicle form of motor racing held on enclosed, off-road circuits; it is a physically demanding sport held in all-weather conditions.
The weekend of April 26-27, Brandon won the overall youth rider winner in the Limestone 100 race in Springville, Ind.
Prior to that, he was the top youth rider spot at Mud Mucker, Bunnell; The General, Washington, Ga.; Steel Creek, Morganton, N.C.; and Big Buck, Union, S.C.
Brandon’s skills as a rider are exceptional for his age and making them more admirable is what he contends with in life every day to develop them.
He was diagnosed with diabetes at 9 years old after having stomach cramps and has to monitor his condition ever since -- before, during and after a race.
Type 1 diabetes results from the body’s failure to produce insulin and is often called “juvenile diabetes.”
“If I’m out there and I feel bad, I know. I feel shaky. I know my health is important and I have to stop during a race, I will,” said Brandon, during a break from practice around the quarter-mile loop track at his La Flam Road home. “Sometimes, I just don’t feel well, but I get my sugar up and go back at it again.”
For each ride and race, Brandon wears an emergency medical necklace and a bracelet that can be scanned and his medical needs appear on a monitor. On occasion, the devices have signaled when it’s time to put the brakes on, rather than reach a finish line.
“I’m usually just thinking about how I’m going to win. When I’m riding, I don’t think about diabetes at all unless I feel bad,” said Brandon, a sixth-grader at Avon Park Middle School.
During a quad ATV race, if he feels low and shaky, Brandon will get off the track, prick his finger with a lancette, put a blood sample into a monitor and check his insulin. Depending on the reading, he would have to immediately eat a snack or take an insulin shot -- a process that usually takes place four times a day.
But out on the track, even with the regular blood checks, Brandon has become one of the top youth ATV quad riders in Florida and the U.S., according to the GNCC and youth rankings for the season.
The Fraziers own six quad ATVs, three for Brandon and three for his brother, C.J., 20, who also races. During the GNCC season, which runs from March until October, the family packs up Brandon’s competition ATVs, loads them into a trailer, and with a pick-up truck heads around the circuit, often covering thousands of miles in a few weeks.
“It’s a lot. For his age, he’s had a lot of responsibilities but he loves riding, and that’s why we keep doing this,” said his mother, Karen Frazier.
It’s Brandon’s devotion to his sport despite his medical condition and his family’s passion for his interest that makes the young champion admirable, said Jen Kenyon, media manger for GNCC racing in Morganton, W. Va.
She said up to 100 riders start 60 seconds apart on some courses and Brandon has consistently been the fastest rider every round. She attributed a lot of his skill and quick ascent in the sport to the support of his parents. Chuck and Karen Frazier, and C.J.
Kenyon said another rider has been winning the youth division races for the past four to five years but moved up a division, leaving Brandon as the new king of the motocross hills.
“This year, he’s the top rider, the one to beat,” she said. “It’s exciting to see Brandon be the top youth rider; it’s his turn to shine,” she said.
During the Limestone 100, Brandon experienced mechanical issues towards the end of the race. West Virginia’s Carter Kerens moved into the lead, but he broke down within the last mile and pushed his ATV through the finish, leaving Brandon as winner. As soon as it was over, Brandon had to check his blood sugar -- all part of the daily routine.
And as the courses change, so do the circumstances of Brandon’s life.
Brandon will compete in the Loretta Lynn off-road race Saturday and Sunday in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., with his wheels faced towards another overall victory.
I like the competition. It’s a blast and everything is always different. You never know what to expect,” he said.