A 16-year-old motocross racer from Pine has qualified to participate in the Ponca Grand Nationals slated to begin July 25 in Ponca City, Okla.
Colton Boulanger, who will be a junior at Payson High School, earned the berth in the Ponca showdown, his first-ever, by virtue of several top-10 finishes in state races and a 10th-place showing at World Mini-Grand Prix held last spring in Las Vegas.
"That was decent. It was his first national race," said his stepfather Gino Wullkotte.
With the Ponca qualification, Colton, his mother Tina and Wullkotte will load up two racing cycles and drive to Ponca about two days before racing begins.
In Boulanger's most recent outing, June 19 at Arizona Cycle Park near Buckeye, he sped to two first places in 125cc Novice class.
Boulanger, who is sponsored by Payson Motor Sports, And Son Construction and The Pit Enterprises also participates in 250cc Stock, Novice and School Boy classes.
According to his stepfather, the support of the three sponsors allows him to ride the very best motorcycles.
He competes in about every state-sanctioned race he can, including those put on by the American Motocross Association, Arizona Motocross and the National Motocross Association.
In the nearly four years Boulanger has been racing, he's turned in solid efforts that have earned him a reputation as an up-and-coming young talent.
At Speedworld near Surprise two weeks ago, he raced to first- and fourth-place finishes in the 125cc stock modified classes.
He's also finished second in a series of eight motocross races held last fall at ET Motorpark in the East Valley.
"He's usually top-10 in every class he races," his stepfather said. "We are real proud of him."
The teen's interest in racing was sparked at about 12 years old when his parents bought him a Honda CR80.
For practice, the parents trucked the cycle into deserts south of Payson where he was able to improve his riding skills.
As he grew older and became a better rider, he began practicing on many of the motocross tracks in the Valley.
Boulanger's goal is do well at Ponca City, move up to the 450cc class next fall and eventually become a regular on the national circuit.
"I want to compete, get better and see how far I can take this," Boulanger said.