Thunder Beach freestyle motocross performer overcomes tragedy with sport

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — At Frank Brown Park on Thursday, Thunder Beach Fall Motorcycle Rally is in full throttle, and professional freestyle motocross rider Trevor Cartmill has been called many things.

“We’ve been labeled as daredevils, everybody calls us stupid and crazy, we get that on the daily,” he said.  

A daredevil, absolutely; Dumb not so much. Every jump is extremely calculated.

“We measure our gap, memorize our throttle, the sound of our engine,” said Cartmill. “We judge the perception from the ramp to the landing.”

Toughness is a requirement, and for a guy who’s still jumping 75 foot gaps while simultaneously performing aerial stunts on a motorcycle with a metal collarbone, you could say he’s got that covered. 

“A rider will get hurt, they’ll crash, they’ll break a bone and two months later they’ll be out doing the same thing,” he said. 

However, the toughest battle he’s had to face so far happened off the ramp, just months ago, when his dad died.

“My dad gave me a childhood that I would not trade for the world,” said Cartmill. “He’s the reason I have the skill I’m sitting here using.”

He may have lost the man who helped him learn the sport, but Cartmill said that sport has become a healing tool.

“Doing shows after that happened, it helped me get through it a little better,” he said. “It’s kind of why we ride because it gets us away from our problems of everyday life.”

He is riding this week at Thunder Beach with the same passion he’s had for years.

“He’s good,” said his riding partner for the week, David Weeks, also a professional freestyle motocross rider. “[He’s] really good, he’s hungry, wants to get better.”

What once was a hobby for Cartmill has become a job and a lifestyle, as well as a lesson to remember. 

“Live your life while you’re still here, that’s how I see it,” he said. 

Thunder Beach Motorcycle Rally will be going on until October 27th. 

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