Motocross rider SECONDARY

Ryan Schmidt uses his helmet cam to take a photo of Janesville’s Lowell Bronstad (right) and Sleepy Eye’s Eric Dietz as they go through the paces on a flat track course.

It’s not like Lowell Bronstad didn’t see this coming.

For about as long as he can remember, Bronstad has been fascinated with motorcycles. His father and uncles used to race them, and Lowell himself was tooling around on one by the age of 6.

Now 28, Bronstad recently went out to compete in a flat track racing qualifier for the first time. The event in California included more than 120 competitors. By the end of the day, Bronstadt had finished 21st which qualified him for the X Games, which will take place next month at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“I was a little surprised but not too much,” Bronstad said of his qualification. “I’ve always been pretty fast on a dirt back. I just got into flat track racing about a year ago.”

Born and raised in Janesville, Bronstad graduated from Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School in 2009. Upon graduation he enrolled in the Motorcycle Mechanic Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, and was certified within a year.

“I think I just naturally drifted toward (that vocation),” Bronstad said. “Since I was little I’ve been taking bikes apart and putting them back together, so I knew it would be something I’d enjoy.”

With his certification in hand, Bronstad returned to the Mankato area and applied for a job at Starr Cycle. He got the job, and now he’s surrounded by a group of co-workers, who, like him, love all things motorcyle.

“We knew him as a customer and just a kid who liked to hang around the shop,” Starr Cycle salesman Duane Erickson said. “We knew he’d be a good addition to the staff, so we hired him.”

When he wasn’t working in the shop, Bronstad often could be found atop his dirt bike enjoying his favorite pastime. A little over a year ago, Ryan Schmidt of the Flying Dutchmen motorcycle club in New Ulm showed up with a couple of flat track racing tires and talked Bronstad into giving it a shot.

He did and he was hooked.

Before long Randy Braulick and Charlie Holm had put together a customized bike for Bronstad, and he started taking the sport more seriously.

“The guy’s a natural,” said Braulick, who accompanied Bronstad to the qualifier in California. “His time was fast enough to qualify out of his very first heat.

“He was just a prospect when he showed up at the Flying Dutchmen in New Ulm, but we have a flat track out there and you could see right away he was pretty fast. I guess he showed it out in California.”

Bronstad registered as early as he could for the California qualifier, as only the first 120 registrants are allowed to compete.

“I guess I had a pretty good day there,” Bronstad said. “I was a little nervous. It was my first time, and you could tell most of the other guys had done it before.”

Bronstad ended up being the only Minnesotan to qualify for the X Games.

It the culmination of a life-long dream for the young man from Janesville who used to sit in front of the TV and watch the X Games and wonder if, one day, it might be him on that screen.

Bronstad says his main goal at the competition is just to see what it’s all about.

“I’ve already qualified so that was my goal,” he said. “Now I want to see what it takes to compete up there and then come back next year and try to contend.”

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the whole competition for Bronstad will be that he gets to perform along with his 6-year-old son Brody. Brody was selected to appear in the halftime show of the event with other kids who will race around the track on electric bikes.

“Now that’s pretty cool,” Bronstad said.

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