CAMBRIDGE, NS - He is no stranger to the motocross track, at home or at venues across the continent.
15-year-old Hunter Vaughan of Cambridge has been involved in the sport for the past seven years. The Grade 10 student at Central Kings Rural High School said he enjoys riding motorbikes in general and motocross quickly became his favourite sport.
“My cousin raced motocross and we went to watch one of his races, and I guess I got interested from then,” Vaughan said. “I wanted to do it, so I got a bike and I started.”
He said some of the most challenging aspects of navigating a motocross track include the braking bumps and various other ruts. Vaughan said the braking bumps, which are formed when competitors brake on the dirt track, can get “quite bad.”
His involvement in motocross has taken Vaughan all over the map. For example, he has competed in Quebec, Ontario, Maine, Connecticut and most recently in Florida. He particularly enjoyed racing in Connecticut, describing it as “a fun track.” He said the crowd energy at motocross events is infectious.
“They’re right into it, especially when there’s a good battle going on,” Vaughan said.
He said there’s a great sense of satisfaction when it comes to accomplishing his racing goals. He recalls a big race held in Quebec last year that he won, crowning him number-one in Canada in his age group.
As with any sport, practice makes perfect. Vaughan said he practices almost every day after school. Locally, the closest motocross track is Mill Hill in Sheffield Mills and sometimes Vaughan travels as far as Truro and New Brunswick to get some track time in and help hone his skills.
Sporting number 474, Vaughan races a Yamaha YZ250F. Although it’s a very physical pursuit, motocross competitors have to remain sharp mentally as well. He employs a great deal of strategy on the track, trying to “stay smooth and consistent” and “go as fast as I can and try to pull away.”
He said his advice to other young racers would be to practice a lot, stay consistent on the track, do the best you can and have fun. Vaughan hopes to continue his involvement in motocross for as long as he can.
Looking forward to the competition in Florida, he said he was “going in blind” and simply hoped to put forth his best effort. One of his goals is to move to Florida and become one of the best there in motocross and supercross.
Vaughan left for Florida on Nov. 17 to compete in the Mini O’s event at Gatorback Cycle Park. It involved three days of racing supercross, with the rest of the event made up of outdoor motocross competition, in the classes Schoolboy 2 and 250 B.
The experience got off to a poor start for Vaughan, as another racer jumped in front of him, hitting his front tire and causing Vaughan to crash and get hit by other competitors. He ended up with an injured elbow and although he qualified for the supercross race, Vaughan passed on the opportunity to focus on the main outdoor motocross race.
Vaughan’s mom, Kate Walsh, said it had been a rough week for Vaughan but he “was still pushing through it.”
Vaughan said his involvement in the sport wouldn’t be possible without sponsors and the support of his hard-working mom and dad. He said his dad and coach, Mike Vaughan, was a big influence and helped mentor him along the way.
Others who have helped him along the journey include HAF Skate and Tattoo, Callus Gloves, One one Motorsport, MMMXP, Infinity Wind (Reuben Burge), Titan Electrical, Mill Hill, TNT Suspension, Troy Bennett (TBA), Kirk Long of Port Williams and his team, the Schofield family and Vaughan’s own family members and friends.
Walsh said the whole family enjoys motocross and they enjoy riding in general. She said it’s so much more than kids riding around on dirt bikes: it’s like a huge extended family and they all stay in contact, even in the off season.
“Motocross gives them so many opportunities to travel and meet new people and learn different cultures,” Walsh said.
She said that she and Vaughan’s dad don’t worry as much about him anymore because he has matured and learned to control his bike. Walsh said that although the nervous feeling never totally goes away, the only time they get really nervous now is when Vaughan is on the gate.
“Once the gate drops and he gets through the first corner, the nerves settle and you can breathe again,” Walsh said. “We are very proud of how far Hunter has come. He is an amazing little rider and so fun to watch.”
Although her son has some big goals, Walsh has no doubt that he can achieve them. With a lot of hard work, “the sky is the limit.”