A Bainbridge resident’s passion for racing has qualified him for the biggest amateur motocross race in the world

Published 9:25 pm Friday, June 13, 2014

Cole Racing

Cole Bulger’s victory at the Southeast Amateur Region race has qualified him for Loretta’s, the world’s biggest amatuer motocross race for more than 30 years. — Photo Submitted

Cole Bulger was at a friend’s house the first time he mounted a dirt bike. He was a 4-year-old enamored with the vehicle. Add to that the fact his friend’s older brother was a racer and the recipe for Bulger’s passion is made.

He wakes up every morning and bikes for an hour before work. When he gets off in the early afternoon, he puts in an hour of cardio, then eats, then back to cardio and riding.

Now 20-years-old and back on the racing scene for the past year, Bulger keeps his goals close in front of him with each lap of the track.

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“My most immediate goal is getting podium at Loretta’s,” Bulger said.

But achieving a top-three spot is no easy feat.

For more than 30 years, country music star Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, has hosted Lynn’s Amateur Motocross National Championship, the largest amateur motocross race in the world.

Hundreds of racers hungry for the next step in their racing career will flock to the track July 27, including Bulger.

The odds are the last thing he has on his mind.

Bulger is fresh off a championship win at the Southeast Regional Amateur race in the 250-Mod division. Over the past three months, he compiled six first-place wins in 250 Stock, 250 Modified and 450 Modified, all races throughout the Southeast. Victories like this are what is helping him climb the ladder toward becoming a pro.  They are what qualified him to race at Loretta’s.

Currently a C-Class rider, he’ll have to prove himself as a B-Class and an A-Class rider before making that final leap into the world of professional motocross racing.

“I don’t want to be a delivery boy for the rest of my life,” Bulger said. “This is what I want to do. I can always go back to college. I can’t always race motocross.”

Bulger was 7 when he began his racing career. His dad, Jamie, got involved, too. Neither knew anything about the sport, and races mostly revolved around events close to Bainbridge. The world of Loretta’s and the ultra-competitive motocross scene was completely unknown to either of them.

After coming and going for the sport for the past 13 years, Bulger is back for good, and his dad is right there beside him.

“As most people know, Motocross is a very dangerous sport,” Jamie said. “I attend every race that I can, when my work doesn’t take me away from home. My wife, Kristi, is another story. She cannot watch Cole race. She tried once and it made her so sick, she had to leave.”

On top of the danger comes the money to keep the bikes running properly, funds to travel to races, food and a number of other expenses.

“Bike-wise, for me to keep all my stuff up for a year, it runs right at 30 to 40 grand, just to keep them running,” Bulger said. “A weekend race will run anywhere from $1,500 to three grand.”

To help raise money for Loretta’s, the Bulger family has organized a fundraiser to sell barbecue.

“Anyone who has been involved in Motocross, knows how expensive it is to keep those bikes running in tip top shape day after day,” Jamie said. “That’s why we’re holding the Fund Raiser, is to help offset some of those costs. Motocross is not only expensive, but it’s also time consuming. Cole spends every available hour he can practice in order to become a better rider. He can be found most afternoons down at the Lusk Track just south of town, working on turns, jumps and keeping competitive between races.”

Bulger will continue working toward his goal of making podium at Loretta over the next month. It’s a sport ingrained into him, and he says he’ll do it until it’s the death of him.

“I’ve wanted to do it ever since I was four,” Bulger said. “This has been a goal for me ever since then to make it to Loretta’s.”