Racing around the track in a practice session at Cowboy Stadium Thursday afternoon, Decatur’s Mitchell Oldenburg started seeing all his childhood dreams become reality.
Since the age of four he has been on a dirt bike, and Saturday night he will make his pro-debut at the age of 18 at the Monster Energy Supercross at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington.
“This is a dream come true, especially my first pro race being close to my hometown,” Mitchell said. “It’s a short drive, and I get to sleep in my own bed.
“It’s just awesome to be racing at Cowboy Stadium.”
When we last visited with Oldenburg back in July, he was preparing for the American Motorcyclists Association’s Amateur National Motorcross Championships in Tennessee. He came away with a second-place finish at the nation’s largest amateur event.
Oldenburg then raced in October at the Las Vegas Monster Cup-and started to weigh his options.
With his father, Jeff, who operates Oak Hill raceway near Alvord, they began pondering on Mitchell’s future.
Jeff moved his family from Minnesota five years ago and is the primary funding for Mitchell right now. He has been involved in the sport since 1973.
“We started debating if I should stay amateur or go pro,” he said. “We decided to go pro and see where I’m at.”
When Mitchell and his brother, McCoy, were 14 and 15 years old, respectively, Jeff asked them if they wanted to keep riding for fun or make a living doing it.
Both made the choice to work at becoming pro.
“It’s exciting watching the kid start at 4 years old and turning what he loves doing into a living,” Jeff said. “It takes a lot of dedication and hard work.”
McCoy is hoping to start racing again soon. He is still recovering from injuries while helping Mitchell in the pits.
After years of preparation, the Oldenburgs could not have planned for everything to come together for a pro start so close to home.
“You can plan for it all you want, but to make a debut an hour from home is awesome,” Jeff said. “And racing in Cowboy Stadium is fantastic.”
Most of Mitchell’s family still resides in Minnesota, but a lot of them will be watching him in the stands Saturday.
“Growing up in Minnesota I have a lot of family coming down,” Mitchell said. “We go back up there in April, so it’s nice having a lot of people supporting me.”
He’ll be relying on that support when the green flag drops, because Mitchell know this race will be different than any other.
“It will be nerve-racking for sure, but also exciting,” he said. “I’ve been working my whole life for this, and it’s make-or-break time for me.”