Cedar Rapids motocross trio mixing it up with the best

Ogden column: Chase Stevenson, Brett McLaud and Chaz Braden have love for the sport

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Chase Stevenson, Brett McLaud and Chaz Braden grew up in Cedar Rapids racing motorcycles and dreaming of one day becoming full-time professional motocross stars.

But like many young athletes, those dreams got pushed aside for life.

The 22-year-old Stevenson now is a senior at the University of Iowa, a semester shy of earning a degree in mechanical engineering. McLaud, 21, is working toward a graphic design degree at Kirkwood. Braden, the “old man” of the bunch at 27, works in maintenance at St. Andrews Apartments.

But dreams die hard.

While the three are pretty typical young adults during the week, they continue to chase those racing dreams on weekends, albeit without the stars in the eyes.

Late last month, the three friends did something they had never done before — making the “night show” at a Monster Energy professional arenacross event in East Rutherford, N.J.

You have to be among the 40 fastest bikers in qualifying to earn a spot in a nationally-televised night race. Braden was among the top 40 several times during the indoor arenacross season and Stevenson has a couple “night shows” under his belt. But this was a first for McLaud and the first time all three did it in the same event.

“That’s been the goal since I was little,” McLaud said.

While making the top 40 is quite an accomplishment in itself, it’s even bigger when you consider the aforementioned typical lives these three lead during the week.

“They’re getting paid to (race) and I’m working Monday through Friday and still keeping up,” Braden said on the younger professional racers in the field.

“We live normal lives, but can mix it up with the best in the world,” Stevenson said.

They’d all love to race full time, but, Stevenson said, if you’re not signed by the time you're 18 years old, you’ve “crossed the bridge.”

At the same time, they aren’t ready to hang it up.

“We’re all die-hards,” Stevenson said.

They compete in only part of the Monster Energy series and travel together to save money on the trips. It can be a costly hobby, from entry fees to hotel rooms to keeping the motorcycles running.

If they get lucky and make a night race, they can cash a check. Braden, for instance, made about $1,100 with his latest finish, covering his costs and leaving him with a small profit.

“You gotta have a love for it,” he said. “There’s no money being made.

“I don’t think I’d be doing it if it wasn’t for all three of us” sharing costs.

Life, the three agree, is better on a motorcycle.

“It love it,” McLaud said.

“When you’re on your bike, all the worries in the world go away,” Stevenson said. “There are no worries on the track. Life is easy, life is good.”

The arena season is over, so the focus now is on the outdoor races.

“It’s my sport,” Braden said. “I’ll do it as long as I can, as long as my body keeps going.”

“The next couple of years, I really want to hit it hard,” McLaud said.

Stevenson and McLaud will stay in the sport even when they are done racing. McLaud wants to design graphics for bikes and Stevenson wants to use his degree to design “anything with two wheels.”

Sometimes dreams just need a little adjusting.

“I want to stay involved in the sport,” McLaud said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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