Feel The Rush: Pierce Brothers thrive in the world of dirt bike racing

Published 10:47 am Monday, July 18, 2022

When it comes to youth sports, some families devote their summers to traveling baseball or softball teams. Others dive into the realms of club soccer or AAU basketball.

The Pierce family, on the other hand, likes to get down and dirty.

The three Pierce brothers — 13-year-old Clay, 12-year-old Luke and 10-year-old Sam — like to scratch their competitive itch and get their adrenaline pumping by riding and racing dirt bikes.

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They’ve traveled to tracks in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, sometimes just for fun and other times to compete in weekend-long motocross events.

“At first I wanted to make it a job. Now I want to make it a hobby so when I get older I can keep doing it,” Clay Pierce said. “It’s the adrenaline, probably.”

Clay, the oldest brother, was the first to embrace the thrill of riding. His father, Sam Louis Pierce — his youngest son is Sam Davis Pierce — “inherited” a small 50cc bike from his own brother and passed it down to Clay about five years ago.

“I used to ride when I was little, and that’s how they got started,” Sam Louis Pierce said. “Then Clay started to race.”

And, just like that, Pierce Bros. Racing was formed.

Sam Davis soon joined his oldest brother in racing and has won several trophies at various races.

“I like just the hype, and how fast I can go and hitting jumps,” Sam Davis Pierce said.

Luke enjoys riding, but his bigger passion is working behind the scenes. He prefers to work on his brothers’ bikes and serves as their mechanic and media coordinator. Besides fixing the bikes, he takes pictures of his brothers, creates T-shirts and handles social media posts.

“I like to be able to ride and work on dirt bikes, and explore the places we go,” Luke said. “I build ‘em, fix ‘em. My main job is to make sure (Sam Louis) can never find his tools.”

Sam Louis no longer regularly rides — “I realized that if I got hurt it would ruin their day,” he said with a laugh — but he and his wife Kelly serve in support roles. They drive the RV, with the race trailer in tow, help prepare the bikes for races, and financially support their sons’ hobby.

The team has had 18 bikes in the last five years, selling some and buying others as they wore out or the boys outgrew them.

“My mom is a big part of it,” Luke said. “She holds it together. She drives the RV, changes the oil, gases the bikes, helps out however she can. If dad was not there, mom would be doing it.”

The family’s Vicksburg home has become the race team’s headquarters. A handful of bikes and parts sit in the shop, alongside racing clothes and helmets. Outside, a race trailer big enough to haul several bikes awaits its next trip to the track.

In between those visits, the boys have their own place to kick back and practice. They carved a small track through the woods behind the house that includes a couple of small jumps and a steep hill that challenges the young riders.

“They built it themselves,” Sam Louis said. “I helped with some of the chainsawing, but they laid it out and cleared all of the branches.”

The Pierce brothers’ race schedule has fluctuated over the years. Some years, Sam Louis said, they’ve raced nearly every weekend. Other times they’ve throttled back to take a mental break. Currently, they’re somewhere in between, racing occasionally with plans to do more in the coming months.

“You can race every weekend if you want to. Or you can come in and out as you want to,” Sam Louis said. “We were extremely competitive with it and now it’s more of a hobby. To the boys, it became more of a job. We slowed down, but we’re going to start racing again pretty soon.”

Sam Louis added that taking occasional breaks from the grind is healthy for both the mind and body.

“It’s a very physically demanding sport,” he said. “If your fitness is not right, you will get hurt.”

Thankfully, injuries for the Pierce brothers have been rare — at least from riding dirt bikes. During a trip to the family’s lake house, Luke broke his wrist while riding an inner tube down a set of stairs.

Sam Davis once had a wreck in which he and another rider got their bikes locked together, but neither was hurt. Clay landed a 130-foot jump at a track in Purvis on New Year’s Eve and came down safely.

“I knew what it was all about. Their grandparents were worried, and their mother was too, but they got over it. (Clay) has been hurt worse playing football than riding dirt bikes,” Sam Louis said. “When they hit a big jump or try something for the first time, you get nervous because you know how it could go.”

More often than not, it just goes as a good time that’s had by all. With everyone involved and playing a part, the Pierces’ trips to the track are weekend getaways that also serve as quality family bonding time.

As they talk about their adventures, the Pierces recall non-racing misfortunes like the batteries in the RV dying as — if not more — fondly than any of the races they’ve competed in.

“We all stay together in the RV and travel together and cook out,” Sam Louis said. “Everybody helps each other get ready for their races.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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