In 1995, Jimmy Vickers was a promising young motocross rider who captured racing aficionados' attention with a second-place finish in a year-long Whiplash Motorsport Racing series.
But due to lack of financial backing and the soaring costs of entry fees, cycle maintenance and travel, Vickers had to drop the sport.
Today, at age 17, he has found his way back into racing circles, thanks to the support of his family and several sponsors.
The Payson Athletic Club, NAPA Auto Parks, Bashas', Valley Kawasaki, Despain Cattle Co., Bud's Plumbing, Clark Farms and Dave Beckstead Photography have all agreed to help Vickers resume his dream of someday being a motocross champion.
There are obstacles that still confront him, however. As a Payson High School student and a part-time employee of Bashas', Vickers' time allocations for practice and competition are limited.
Putting together precious minutes of practice during his time off of work and school, he's returned to racing his 125 cc Kawasaki on the Whiplash Grand Canyon State Classics circuit.
In his most recent outing, Feb. 21 at the Canyon Off-Road Park near Lake Pleasant, he rode his way to a second-place finish among a field of 23 competitors. Last weekend, at Phoenix Speedworld, he placed fourth among the 21 competitors in his heat.
Most importantly for his mother, Cindy, there were no crashes and no injuries in either race.
"I'm thankful for that," she said.
Whiplash short course motocross racing -- which is designed to test the driver's skill and daring -- is conducted over a lap course of jumps, dips and other pitfalls.
It's those challenges, Vickers says, that draw him to the sport.
The teenager escaped the Speedworld event injury-free, but that wasn't the situation two weeks earlier in a Whiplash event held at Canyon Off-Road Park near Phoenix.
There, Vickers was running strong until a fellow competitor flipped his cycle directly in front of him. Unable to avoid a collision, Vickers found himself thrown head-first onto the course. He managed to remount his cycle and finish the heat but later required several surgical stitches to close a wound.
The accident didn't dampen Vickers' enthusiasm for racing. He plans to continue participating on the Whiplash circuit -- sometimes participating in as many as three races a month.
His adventures will take the Vickers family around the state -- Sierra Vista, Tucson -- wherever a race is to be held.
Resuming a career that once seemed over, Jimmy said, is a dream come true and he's determined to prove that he has the mettle to become one of the sport's best.