MORRIS-TURNBERRY – Caleb Vankoughnett is well on his way to achieving his goal to become a professional motocross racer, after signing a sponsorship deal with Kawasaki.
At 11-years-old, the young man is already a seasoned motocross racer and this sponsorship will ensure he receives mentorship and experience until he is old enough to compete with the advanced team members.
Caleb began his racing career at the tender age of four, but he has been riding a motorbike since he was three and a half, he said.
Caleb’s dad, Chris said, “We got him a small bike…and he just loved it,” and somebody suggested that they head over to Walton to practice on an actual track, “and he fell in love with it. We put him in his first race and we haven’t looked back since.”
“Walton is our home track, and Chatsworth is another home track,” Chris explained.
The young racer was part of an organization called Amateur Motocross Ontario (AMO), an Ontario-based motocross group that goes as far as Quebec and Ottawa, Chris said.
The difference now is that the family will be travelling for races all across Canada.
“We’ll be from Kamloops, B.C. to Nova Scotia with this team,” the excited father said.
Caleb’s new team will be covering all of the travel expenses across the country for him and his father, as well as new bikes, clothing and entrance fees.
On Friday, Jan. 7 the Vankoughnett family travelled to meet Caleb’s new crew, Team Thor-Kawasaki, and begin his training.
The entire family joined Caleb on the 18-hour journey to the state of Georgia, including their three cats, in the family RV.
Chris said the Kawasaki team manager contacted him to see if Caleb would be interested in joining the group for the 2022 season.
Although Caleb was aware of the offer, they didn’t know 100 per cent until recently.
“We found out for sure about a week ago,” Chris said, and then he told Caleb the good news.
Caleb said, “Dad told me, and I was pumped, I was dumbfounded, I just could not wrap my head around the whole thing.”
“I’m very excited,” he added. “I was hoping for this kind of opportunity but I had no idea it was going to come this early in my life.”
His favourite part of racing is “flying through the air,” and he loves how it is so family-oriented.
“I also get to learn from the bigger guys… I get to learn and be mentored by them, it’s pretty amazing.”
The polite and articulate young man expressed his genuine gratefulness to Kawasaki to be able to join in on the family-oriented team atmosphere.
“I’m just really grateful for the opportunity,” he said. “It’s very family-oriented and my family supports me in a big way.”
Caleb added, “I’m also really glad that I can inspire smaller kids in pursuing their motocross dreams.”
Hard work paid off for this young man, his father said.
“Ultimately, it speaks to his character, because kids his age, especially in Canada, don’t get opportunities like this very often.”
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times