Macomb Township teen takes motocross gold

By: Dean Vaglia | Macomb Chronicle | Published February 20, 2023

 Christian Hilton racing in Green Cove Springs, Florida, in December 2022.

Christian Hilton racing in Green Cove Springs, Florida, in December 2022.

Photo provided by Christine Hilton

 Christian Hilton at the 2022 District 14 AMA Motocross awards banquet in Mount Pleasant. Christian placed first in the 85cc (9-15 years) season and championship series.

Christian Hilton at the 2022 District 14 AMA Motocross awards banquet in Mount Pleasant. Christian placed first in the 85cc (9-15 years) season and championship series.

Photo provided by Christine Hilton


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Christian Hilton plays many sports. Like other kids his age, he plays basketball and was once active in football, though he has since stopped playing.

Unlike other 13-year-olds, however, Christian is a competitive motocross rider.

Motocross is something he’s quite good at, actually, as he recently won the top motocross prize for his age group in Michigan

“It feels good,” said Christian, of Macomb Township, the 2022 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Motocross Michigan District 14 85cc (9-15 years) champion.

Though he may be a rider of few words, Christian’s results on track speak for themself. In 2022, he finished on the podium in 29 of the 32 races he competed in for the 85cc (9-15 years) category regular season, winning 17 of them. His performance in the championship series was even more impressive, taking a podium spot in each of the 10 races and claiming first place in half of them.

According to Christian’s father, Brian Hilton, his son got into motocross by riding a dirt bike around the field at his uncle’s house. A friend invited Christian to a race, and after attending, he was hooked on motocross. Christian also rides snowmobiles.

“It went from a hobby to a passion,” Brian said.

Getting into motocross takes a few steps, beginning with the purchase of a $49 AMA membership ($29 for kids) and a membership to the local AMA district (Michigan is District 14). Once those are purchased, along with a bike with a suitable engine, and the rider has the required protective gear, it’s all about finding the series to race in.

“District 14 basically hosts a race every weekend from April 1 to Halloween across the state of Michigan,” Brian said. “There’s a race every Saturday (and) Sunday, so any weekend you can basically get two race days in.”

So far, Christian has had an “amazing” time in the sport, going from barely finishing a race without falling to becoming a competitive force within his class. Much time is spent between races working on bikes, and race weekends are marked by camaraderie between riders.

“Even though it’s a solo sport, I think it’s a great team sport just in the teamwork and support of the other riders for each other,” said Christine Hilton, Christian’s mother. “They’re always cheering each other on. They’re learning a lot about sportsmanship, perseverance, determination — a lot of life lessons in the sport.”

Christian’s 2022 season started out slow, taking second place in his first race of the season on May 1 and then third place on May 8. He scored back-to-back wins on May 14-15 but would not see the top of the podium again until late June. July began with back-to-back third-place finishes before scoring wins on the July 17 and July 23, taking second on the July 31 and going on a 12-race winning streak though August and September. Christian’s season ended with a race on Oct. 2, finishing in second place.

To Brian, Christian was able to perform at the level he did this season due to the time spent training between races and in the off-season. In the colder months, riders will go to warmer climates to ride, while Christian visits a trainer around Flint in the warmer months for three-hour sessions on the technical aspects of racecraft.

“A lot of it comes down to training,” Brian said. “It’s all about how to run the track at high speed safely. They teach him how to corner, lean the bike, stay on the gas, when to use the gas, when to use the brake. Motocross is ... all about seat time, putting the hours in on the bike, learning the skills. You don’t just sit on a bike and twist the throttle. There’s a lot to it.”

Christian, after a season as triumphant as 2022, is looking to stick with the sport for some time. So far his time has been spent riding in lower-displacement, youth-oriented divisions within Michigan, so the next step right now is to get a bigger engine and start looking for out-of-state races. These races abroad also open the door for sponsorships, a necessity for any future in a sport where so much comes down to the individual riders’ financial ability to remain present, let alone competitive.

More information about motocross and how to get started can be found at

The Hiltons are looking for sponsors to help Christian’s career along, and interested parties are encouraged to contact them.