Pint-sized racer makes big debut
Daring 9-year-old John R. Duarte of El Dorado Hills felt lucky just to participate in the 2010 AMA California State Hillclimb and Verticross Pro AM series Nov. 6. But he came away with a lot more than a token trophy: The bold, first-time racer climbed onto his 50 cc Honda and placed fifth in the hill climb at 165 ft.
Later, he took second place in the pit bike motocross race, coming in second in the first two rounds (called “motos” in the motocross world). He went on to duke it out in a third race filled with thrills and plenty of spills. He caught up to the first-place rider a couple of times, he says, but never quite made the pass.
“It felt really good winning that trophy, because it was my first race and I was super excited,” he said.
The Oak Meadow fourth grader has been riding his pit bike alongside his dad (also named John … no “R”) on the weekends at Prairie City since age 5.
“My mom doesn’t really get scared when I ride or anything,” John said. “She just wants me to be careful. My dad says he’s going to try racing too next year.”
When he isn’t tearing up the track, John keeps busy playing soccer, baseball and flag football. But he has his heart set on pursuing a racing career, he said, particularly in hill climbing.
“That one was my favorite,” he said. “My dad told me it was only 165 feet. But I was sure it was 165 yards.”
Whatever the case, the racing world hasn’t seen the last of John R. Duarte.