Rayce Reeves and Mason Meininger are likely to chew up a little dirt with their turkey today.
The Tri-City boys are in Tulsa, Okla., for the annual BMX Grand Nationals. The event is a holiday tradition expected to attract some 15,000 spectators and 3,800 racers trying to win the top spots in the sport that involves riding a bicycle around a bumpy dirt track as fast as possible.
And Rayce and Mason can do that pretty darned fast, as they now compete in the expert classes for their age groups.
Rayce, 5, the son of Ken and Alix Reeves of Richland, is ranked No. 5 in the nation in the 5 and under age class based on points he's accumulated this season by winning races.
Mason, 8, son of Shawn and Maurine Meininger of Pasco, is ranked No. 11 in the 8 and under age class.
The goal for both boys and their parents is to at least come out of the Grand Nationals recognized as being in the top 10 in the nation in their age groups -- if not No. 1.
Rayce has been competing about a year, his father said, and during that time has about 35 wins. After taking first place in five national events this year, he was promoted to expert class.
Ken Reeves said his son got interested in the sport after they stopped by the Columbia Basin BMX track in Richland's Horn Rapids area.
"We took him to the track to watch and he seemed pretty excited about it," he said.
As a guy who raced personal watercraft until several years ago, Ken was more than willing to let his son give BMX racing a try.
"It's kind of a dream come true being able to watch him," he said. "I love to race and getting to watch him satisfies some of that I've missed since not competing."
Rayce's start in BMX wasn't without some bumps and bruises.
"The first time he didn't make it around the track and crashed," Ken said. "Of course he cried, and I picked him up and told him it would be OK."
It literally was off to the races from there, as Rayce's skills improved.
"He started out just being OK and not really winning or anything, but then he won, and all of a sudden the lights came on," Ken said. "He got that feel of a win and really got going."
Rayce still cries sometimes, his dad admitted, but that's because he so badly wants to win.
Mason started competing in the 5 and under class after his family moved to Pasco from Vancouver in 2007, his mother said.
He always was a bicycle fanatic, she said, and started riding his bike without training wheels when he was just 2. Then they went to the BMX track in Richland.
"When he saw that track, he said he wanted to race," Maurine said.
Mason, who attends Ruth Livingston Elementary, moved to expert class after building up a record of 25 wins.
He is ranked No. 1 in Washington after winning the state championship in the 8 and under class.
"He really set off to win first, and he pulled it off," Maurine said.
For both families, having BMX racers in the family is a big commitment and no small expense. To compete at their level requires lots of traveling.
Races they have attended range from Reno to Chilliwack, British Columbia, where Rayce won his fifth national event to get promoted to expert class.
Maurine said Mason's races have been almost every weekend, which has meant travel throughout the Northwest and Canada. He's also traveled to attend coaching camps where professional BMX riders coach upcoming racers.
"We didn't have any idea what we were getting into, not quite at all," she admitted.
"But we enjoy it a lot. It's definitely its own family," she said, noting they have developed many friends among the families of the competitors they see all the time.
She also likes the fact all the kids get to compete. "They say nobody rides the bench, that's what's pretty neat about it," Maurine said. "Everybody gets a fair chance."
Ken said Rayce has learned from the sport that it takes work to succeed.
"The whole goal is to have him learn to enjoy to compete and learn to be competitive and to take life and roll with it and do the best you can," he said.
Maurine said BMX success has been positive for Mason.
"This sport has given him so much more confidence," she said. "That's the neat part about it because he was a little shy. It has given him confidence that he can go out and do something great."
The two families know it will take a lot for their sons to win in Tulsa as the competition gets under way with practice today and races through Sunday. Many of the kids who will be competing have more experience and training.
Still, they hope for a "NAG 10" rating -- to be ranked in the top 10 in their age group in the country's top BMX competition.
And as for Thanksgiving dinner, that's covered, Maurine explained. "They do a big Thanksgiving dinner there," she said.
It is, after all, one big family.
w Rick Larson: 582-1522; firstname.lastname@example.org