Riders as young as 6 compete in motorcycle racing

Enthusiasts defend youngsters' participation in sport

Enthusiasts defend youngsters' participation in sport

May 27, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. -- A New Hampshire boy who was killed Monday during a motorcycle race at Summit Point Raceway was 13 years old, but children younger than that are entering the sport, according to racing experts.

Children as young as 6 years old are riding small 50 cc motorcycles to learn the sport of motorcycle racing, according to David Swarts, associate editor of

Alex Lyskawa of Londonderry, N.H., was killed at the raceway near Summit Point, W.Va., when his motorcycle struck another driver's cycle that was experiencing mechanical trouble, police said.

Lyskawa suffered major head and neck trauma when he was run over by a third motorcyclist traveling at a high rate of speed, according to West Virginia State Police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


A spokeswoman for the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., where motorcycle racing is offered, said she has not heard any concerns about letting youths and children race motorcycles.

Infineon Raceway features a series called the Red Bull Rookies Cup, where youths 13 to 15 years old are introduced to motorcycle racing, track spokeswoman Diana Brennan said.

Although motorcycle racing in the United States is viewed as "a little crazy" sometimes, an official with the Motorcycle Roadracing Association believes youths should be allowed to race if that is something they truly desire and their parents allow them to do it.

"It's part of what makes life interesting to live," said Jim Brewer, a member of the board of directors of the Motorcycle Roadracing Association.

Riders must be at least 16 years old to race in Motorcycle Roadracing Association events, but that mainly has to do with the size of the motorcycles in the races, Brewer said.

The organization does not have races for small 50 cc motorcycles, Brewer said.

Adults usually race motorcycles that are between 600 cc and 1,000 cc in size, Brennan said.

Brewer said the equipment that motorcycle racers wear makes the sport very safe, and there is increasing attention on making sure riders have enough area to slide after a wreck without hitting an obstacle like a wall.

Swarts said accidents like the one that claimed Lyskawa's life are "very rare."

Racing organizations are able to lease Summit Point Raceway to hold races, said William A. Reichardt, vice president of business development at the track.

Reichardt emphasized that it is "their rules, not ours" that control how races are run at the track.

The race in which Lyskawa was killed was sanctioned by the Championship Cup Series. Officials with the organization could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Monday's crash was at least the third fatal motorcycle crash at the raceway since October 2001, according to Herald-Mail archives.

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