Motocross racer gets the Boot
Fourteen-year-old Dylan Kaelin, who lives south of Grand Bend, swept the motocross racing categories he entered at the Canadian Amateur National Championships in Walton, Ontario, August 15-19. Dylan took home three top-honours and the Bronze Boot award for best all-round amateur rider.
As told to Casey Lessard
Amateur motocross is what I race. I started riding when I was three, and started racing when I was four. I’ve been at it ever since. It’s what I want to do when I’m older – become a professional motocrosser and make a living off it.
When I was younger I just rode around on a pedal bike. We had an old Honda Z50 mini-bike – my sister rode it and then I starting riding it. It had training wheels on, and I told my dad I wanted to ride without training wheels. He didn’t believe that I could do it. A week later he bought me a PW50 and then a couple months later I went to my first race and I got dead last (laughs).
When I was six years old, I won the four-to-six 50 CC class at the Canadian national championships. I went to Loretta Lynn’s (US championships), which is the biggest amateur national championship in the world, when I was nine years old riding 50s; I’ve tried to qualify for Loretta Lynn’s a few more times. At Walton (the Canadian championships), I should have won the 50 CC seven-to-eight class in 2002, but I broke my femur. In 2005, I got a third place in the seven-to-12 class. This year, in one week, I won three classes, becoming Canadian champion for all three. Plus I won the Bronze Boot, which is for the most accumulated points throughout the whole week. That’s the biggest award you can win there.
The very first moto (race at the Walton) I just wanted to go out there and win and get it out of the way and just have a good mindset for the rest of the weekend. Luckily I did that. I had a mid-pack, top-5, top-10 start. It was pretty good. I got up front and I won that moto so that was good.
In the second race, my friend crashed in front of me on one of the big jumps. I ran his bike over because I had nowhere to go. Then I went down and I was back in about 15th or so. I worked my way to second. I was right behind the leader by half a bike. I was behind him five feet or so when we came across the finish. I needed to win that one to make sure I would be in a good position for the third moto to get the championship.
Everybody really started getting into it after that crash. I was walking around the pits and everyone was saying, “Good ride! That was awesome how you came from the back of the pack and almost won.” The rest of the week everybody was cheering me on. It was great.
After my first day of motos I went 1-2-1. The next day I got 1-1-1. Then after that I was kind of starting to figure it out. I just had to go for the third day and ride like I did the rest of the week. I knew I could probably win all the championships if there were no bike problems and I didn’t crash.
I was so nervous. That morning I didn’t want to eat – I felt like I was going to throw up. Mentally it’s a big game. Coming up there that week I knew I could do well but I was second-guessing myself.
You always fear getting injured. Crashing into somebody else, somebody crashing in front of you, bike problems.
Winning the Bronze Boot and the three national championships is definitely going to help out for next year. I’m sending résumés out to gear sponsors and bike sponsors right now. Next year I’m moving up to intermediate class so that will be a big difference. In that class, a lot of people sponsor the faster riders. A lot more people come and watch. It’s a bigger deal, for sure.
I’m going to try to stay in the intermediate class as long as I can because I’m only 14. Most people who are pro are 20 or 21. I’m probably going to run intermediate Canada for about two years, then I’ll go to the States and run their ‘B’ class for a year. I might go ‘A’ in the States, then come and race in Canada.
Without my family I wouldn’t be able to do it at all. Having the business here (dad Rob started a motocross sales and repair shop in Dylan’s early racing days) basically was to help me out in the beginning and then all my parts were cheaper, and it helps us find sponsors.
I’m going to be home-schooled this winter for second semester. Last year I missed three weeks of school to go down south to go riding. My teachers helped me a lot.
I think I was born to do motocross. I’m not really good at anything else. There’s a chance to make millions and there’s a chance you’ll be working at McDonalds if it doesn’t work out.
“I hope he can fulfill his dream and make it to a factory ride,” says dad Rob Kaelin, owner of The Cobra Shop (thecobrashopmx.ca). “I just hope he stays healthy. I know receiving the Bronze Boot was a dream of his. I was pretty fortunate to be able to witness him have a dream come true.”
“Every weekend since the time he was four years old, my daughter, my son and my husband and I spent the weekends together,” says mom Teresa, who takes care of the nutrition and cleaning. “You grow extremely strong and close as a family. It’s very much a family affair.”
“As far as academics,” Rob adds, “he must carry a B+ average to be able to go and ride and go train like he does and take x-amount of weeks off school. As long as he keeps up his end and we don’t get too many injuries, everything is good.”