Tanner Watson’s got some skills.
Just ask his competitors at the Airway Motocross Park in Spokane, as the young racer brought home a collection of seven trophies during a season-ending event last weekend.
Watson, 8, has been heading down to the track for races throughout the spring and summer, and his results were good enough to earn some pretty impressive hardware.
“For him, its quite a feat because you go down there and race against these kids, about 20 to 25 of them, and it’s on their home track, so they have a pretty big advantage, but he does pretty well,” said Brant Watson, Tanner’s father.
Tanner raced the season on a KTM 50 cc in his first full season of racing, as he got hooked on the sport last year when he tried out the track for the first time.
“I started out riding a dirt bike and I just got more into it and then I started asking to race and I kept asking until I started my first race,” said Tanner. “After that, I kind of liked it and I wanted to keep doing it.”
Brant and his wife, Allison, had no idea their son was interested in pursuing motocross even after getting him a dirt bike for his birthday when he turned 4 years old.
Brant grew up playing hockey and even dabbled in a bit of junior, and figured Tanner would follow in his footsteps.
“He kind of took this all on his own and it’s kind of neat, because I’m learning with him, too,” said Brant.
When the spring and summer hits, the two are out at a user-maintained track near Elko one day of the weekend, or out at a couple tracks that family friends have have built on their property.
The Watsons are also friends with Clayton Vogt, a local pro rider who is an inspiration for Tanner.
Heading down to Spokane is more convenient than heading to Lethbridge or Calgary for races and the trips are a family event, even though it’s focused on Tanner’s racing, said Brant.
“We’re there as a family and the whole family is cheering him on,” said Brant. “Mom’s out on the track, making sure he’s okay if he falls down and I’m in the pits, working on the bikes or making sure he gets a good start.”
The youngster even has a few sponsors as Kootenay Valley Petroleum—the company that Brant works for—helps out with some of the costs, while Mainjet Motorsports out of Nelson aids with bike maintenance. Gibson’s Welding in Cranbrook also lends a hand for any welding that needs to be done with the machine.
Though Tanner is sponsored, any modifications or upgrades done to the bike, considering his age, are more about improving safety rather than increasing speed.
“All that little stuff sure helps,” said Brant.
Tanner’s having so much fun out on the track, he’s got his younger sister, Mya, 5, interested in getting into dirt biking.
But the off-season is approaching, and Tanner will soon trade his dirt bike for hockey skates, but Brant hopes to get down to another American indoor track a few times over the winter.
“I honestly think if he had the opportunity to pick between motocross and hockey, I don’t even think it’d be a hard decision for him,” said Brant. “It would be dirt bikes all the way.”