Go Speed Racer: Blythewood teen burning up the motor mile

Taking a turn at 70-80 MPH at Talladega Gran Prix Raceway in Alabama, Josh Jovi sets up for an S-curve.

What goes over 100 miles per hour on its side and travels across the Southeastern United States in a lightening streak of color? I bet you didn’t answer a 13-year-old boy! But that is exactly what Joshua Jovi of Blythewood does for fun.

Jovi, a seventh-grader at Blythewood Middle School, competes in the WERA Motorcycle Roadracing tour, which is one of the oldest and largest national sanctioning bodies conducting motorcycle races at road courses in the U.S. Jovi races a matching pair of Kawasaki 250cc motorcycles in the Novice class on the Iron Man racing team. This year has been an incredible year for Jovi with victories in the E Superstock Novice class at both the Talladega Gran Prix Raceway in February and at Roebling Road in Georgia in March. Jovi is also first in the points standings in the E Superstock Novice class in Southeastern Region and the North Florida Region. That lead increased measurably last weekend when he took home four first places from the Nola Race Park in New Orleans.

“Road racing,” Jovi explained, “is run on a track similar to a NASCAR track, except that road racing has more turns so it’s more technical and requires a lot of concentration because of the combination of high speed and turns.”

While Jovi lives and breathes road racing and has his sights set on a professional career in the American Motorcycle Association, his parents, Mark and Glory, keep him in touch with Earth by making sure his racing doesn’t take precedent over school. To that end, they expect him to maintain his spot on the A-B honor roll. If he doesn’t, unfortunately, he misses a race.

But staying up on grades can be tough with practice in the afternoons and races on weekends, sometimes out of state and sometimes leaving on Thursday evenings for competitions.

“Any time I get an opportunity to stay after school to get a little help from my teachers, I do,” Jovi said. “I also study with friends who help me catch up on anything I may have missed in class if I’m out of town for a race on Fridays.”

“This is an expensive sport,” Mark Jovi said of his son’s preoccupation, “and we emphasize to Josh that a good education will provide a good job that will allow him to keep racing as long as he wants.” Plus, Jovi’s parents insist that he conducts himself like a professional at all times while racing. “This is just as important as success on the track,” Mark Jovi said, “and something his mother and I are proud that he has taken seriously.”

Racing is truly a family thing in the Jovi household. Jovi’s younger brother, 9-year-old Daniel, is following in his brother’s skid marks, competing in both motocross and road racing. Already, Daniel has a championship in the mini division.

Josh Jovi was bitten by the racing bug early . . . when he was little more than a toddler.

“My dad used to race, and one day he asked me if I wanted to go with him,” Jovi said. “I really liked it and wanted to try it, so he bought me my first dirt bike when I was 3. I really liked riding, and dad took the training wheels off while I was still 3. My parents said I just took off and loved riding. I just kept riding and had success and progressed to where I am now.”

That’s seven championships later, with a good shot at the national championship this racing year.

While Jovi said he doesn’t get nervous before a race, he confesses to getting a little jumpy.

“I’m just hyped up and ready to go,” he said. “But once the race starts, I just try and focus on what’s ahead of me to make sure I do the best I can.”

Still, there are the proverbial bumps in the road. Riding his Honda 88 in Monticello, Fla. four years ago, Jovi tried to catch an older boy in front of him who was on a bigger bike.

“I was going down the straightaway and trying to hold the throttle into the turn,” Jovi recalled, “but I knew I wasn’t going to make it as I was going way too fast. I ran off the course, hit a big pile of sand and just started flipping in a cloud of dust. I got up and was fine and got back in the race.”

So what’s next?

“I’m really trying to win the Championship [WERA Novice class] this year and then next year maybe go into the Expert class and win that Championship,” Jovi said. “Then I’d like to get a 600 or 650 bike and keep progressing and, I hope, be able to turn pro and ride on the American Motorcycle Association tour.”

And what’s his secret to all this success at such a young age?

“I love speed,” Jovi said with a grin. “But you have to be fit, both mentally and physically, and you have to practice so you know what you’re doing on the bike. If you want to do it, you have to just go for it and go all out!”

Spoken like a champion.