'You’re all in or you’re just not': Local racer pushing for motocross glory

Jacob Concannon has 2 top-15 finishes at amateur nationals
August 18, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.
Jacob "JJ" Concannon, 17, recently finished top 15 or better in two events at Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Motocross Championship (AMNC) from July 31–Aug. 5 in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. It was Concannon's second trip to the AMNC, and this time he raced in B Class, which is one step below professional.
Jacob "JJ" Concannon, 17, recently finished top 15 or better in two events at Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Motocross Championship (AMNC) from July 31–Aug. 5 in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. It was Concannon's second trip to the AMNC, and this time he raced in B Class, which is one step below professional. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)

Staff Reporter

When Jacob “JJ” Concannon was 6 years old, he and his parents discussed his desire to pursue a competitive motocross career. The question was simple: Do you want us to leave you an inheritance, or do you want to chase your dream?

“We can spend it now or you can spend it later,” Jaime Concannon, Jacob’s father, told him. “We can do it as a family, or we don’t do it.”

Now, 11 years later, Jacob has lived away from his parents in Centerville, Missouri, eight months out of the year since he was 14, taking online classes and training with former professional motocross racer Kevin Windham at his facility, Farm 14.

Those dreams began to look more within reach after Jacob’s recent showing at Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Motocross Championship (ANMC) in Tennessee — his second time qualifying for the event — where he placed top 15 or better in two different 42-racer classes.

photo  Jacob "JJ" Concannon focuses on a turn during a race at Loretta Lynn's Amateur Motocross National Championship. (Photo courtesy of Stefani Young)  

“We told him a long time ago, ‘You keep up your end, and we’ll do everything we can on our end to support you,’” said Stefani Young, Jacob’s mother.

Both parties have continued that dedication to each other. Jacob finished seventh in the 450cc B Limited event, and 13th in the 250cc B Limited. 

Jacob’s growth has been rapid. In 2021, the first time he attended the ANMC, he was competing in the C Class — a division where kids decide if they truly want to pursue a competitive career or not. Only the top C Class riders each year — equating to less than 10% — ever advance to B Class, which is one step below professional.

“It's just younger kids,” Jacob said of the comparison to the pros. “We're running the same lap times and everything as pros … It's just way more intense compared to C Class.”

The Concannons’ Bellingham home portrays what you would expect from a family of dirt bike riders. The mantel inside displays Jacob’s top trophies while the detached garage houses nearly 10 motorcycles of various types, more trophies, bike parts and tools.

Then there’s the trailer, which carries the bikes and is towed by their truck that has accumulated 70,000 miles in just two years, moving from racing event to racing event across the U.S.

It takes a village, Young said.

“When you get to [this] point in this sport, either you’re all in or you’re just not,” she added. “And that’s his dream. It’s his passion and he works really hard at it.”

The next step for Jacob is advancing out of B Class and, eventually, qualifying for the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Professional Motocross National Championship.

Humble beginnings

photo  Jacob "JJ" Concannon, left, talks with his father, Jaime, ahead of a race. (Photo courtesy of Stefani Young)  

Jacob has been around motorcycles and dirt bikes since he was born. The motorcycle ties come from Young’s family, which has deep roots in managing and riding at Hannegan Speedway. Aaron Young, Jacob’s uncle, does the maintenance work on the teen's bikes. 

Jacob was drawn to it, almost instinctively. He first twisted the throttle at age 3 and ran his first race at age 5, continuing to fall in love with the sport.

“Even as a really small baby, a small child, he just was always drawn to the sound of a Harley or a dirt bike and just always loved it — was mesmerized by it,” Young said.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down many of the competition avenues for Jacob and his family. In 2021, Jacob was entering high school, which was almost entirely online. Contained to his room, he was miserable. 

photo  Jacob "JJ" Concannon catches air off a jump during a race. (Photo courtesy of Stefani Young)  

His parents decided to put him in full-time online classes through the On Track School — a K-12 distance learning program — and Jacob was invited to a motocross training facility in Kentwood, Louisiana, called Real Deal.

“We got down there, and they were outside, they were training. There's no Xbox, there's no TV and stuff down there because you’re in the middle of nowhere,” Young said. “It was a really healthy, wholesome atmosphere of, you know, the outside world — what was going on — wasn't affecting these kids.”

A few weeks later, Jacob competed in his first national race in Ponca City, Oklahoma, and finished 14th. He and his family were stoked, and even more so when he earned his first bid to the ANMC in the C Class at the end of the year. The adjustment was difficult, Jacob said, but he has no regrets.

“It’s all happening so fast but, you know, I'm not slowing down, right?” Jacob said. “[I’m going to] ride the bus as long as I can and see how far it'll take me.”

Path to nationals

photo  Jacob "JJ" Concannon sits on the deck of his Whatcom County home with medals and trophies from his motocross wins around the country. Concannon, 17, is already a decorated racer with dreams of racing professionally. (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)  

In 2022, Jacob’s race to the ANMC was halted by a broken wrist that held him out after another strong showing in Ponca City.

Now 17, Jacob has had multiple concussions, two broken elbows, two separated shoulders and a torn MCL in addition to the wrist injury.

He stayed healthy through the 2023 national qualifying process, which includes areas and regionals. After taking first place at his area competition, he had to attend three regionals to qualify for the ANMC.

It didn’t get any easier from there.

One of Jacob’s coaches, Zeke Glascock, and two of his friends were involved in an accident while Jacob was at regionals, and Glascock was killed. That loss weighed heavily on Jacob and his entire Farm 14 team as nationals rolled around.

photo  Jacob "JJ" Concannon leads the pack after a holeshot — a term to describe the first racer to reach the apex of the course's first turn — during a race. (Photo courtesy of Stefani Young)  

“Zeke was kind of like their mental health coach,” Young said. “[He] was just the one that was always really there for them for really dark times. So this regional and this national really meant a lot to those boys because they were there doing [it] for Zeke.”

Torrential downpours at the ANMC spurred race delays and muddied the course to the point of near cancellation. By the end, Jacob said he exceeded his own expectations by finishing top-10 in one event.

Jacob graduated from high school a year early and had his ceremony while at the ANMC. Now, Jacob said, he is focused on pushing toward a pro career.

“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, just kind of see where it takes me. I obviously really want to race pro,” Jacob said. “I don't want it to become pressure or even, you know, maybe become cocky. I like to stay humble and just be the best me every day I go out there.”

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