Humboldt-grown 16-year-old Trevor Taylor is headed for the motorcycle big times in Du Quoin, Illinois, this month. He’ll compete in the American Motorcyclist Association 2021 Flat Track Grand Championship against many other very good motorcyclists. Armed with a pro-class bike — the 2007 Husqvarna 450 — Taylor has been gearing up for this moment ever since he secured his first bike at age four.
And prepared he feels indeed — “feeling 110 percent,” in fact.
He grew up watching motorcycling on TV with his parents and has been entering races since he was 13. Road tripping with his parents and two younger brothers — who are also championship bound someday, Taylor hopes — the family travels up and down the West Coast almost every weekend to race.
But this multi-day national championship, which will take place July 15-20, is different. It’s bigger, more competitive and much further away. Taylor plans to make the journey with seven other young racers from California (they call themselves the Cali Boys). To fund the trip, he’s been mowing lawns and building and selling picnic tables.
How does one prepare for a competition of this intensity? Ship-shape gear, Taylor tells us, is supremely important, and can make or break the risk of crashing or injury. Helmets, for instance, should be replaced every five crashes.
“I’m pretty used to [crashing] by now,” Taylor said. “You can’t really be scared going into this sport. There’s a chance of you walking away from it and there’s a chance of you not walking from it.”
American Flat Track, the official flat track racing league founded by AMA in 1954, doesn’t really deny the risk. Here’s their anxiety-inducing flat track definition:
At its core, professional flat track racing is a hyper-competitive, adrenaline-fueled American motorcycle sport featuring custom-built and production-based motorcycles reaching top speeds of 140mph on the straights and 90mph in the corners, all piloted by world-class athletes … the sport remains perhaps motorsport’s purest test of man and machine.
But Taylor is not worried. “I just hope I can stay at the front,” he said.
His parents are supportive and proud. “It’s pretty neat because growing up in flat track, he always had these pro riders that he looked up to,” Brandy Taylor, Trevor’s mom, told the Outpost. “Now he’s on the track racing with them.”