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Whistler youth leads motocross fall series



Ten-year-old cheered on by family

In less than three seasons, Justin Patjas has acquired 27 different motocross racing trophies and a number of award plaques. Although he is quickly running out of shelf space in his bedroom, he thinks he has room to squeeze in a couple more.

This fall, the 10-year-old is currently leading the B.C. Mainland circuit of the Canada Motocross Racing Club fall series with two firsts and one second place finish. At his last race in Kamloops he finished just two bike lengths back of a 15-year-old.

With dozens of other racers turning out to the races in the same competitive category, Justin knows he has to keep winning and placing to stay on top – one missed race or fall could cost him the title.

After winning the indoor Provincial Arenacross series last winter against some tough competition, he knows what he has to do to win races.

"I like to get out front after the first corner," he says.

He’s no slouch on the rest of the track, either. He skims the ‘whoops’ – a series of small, steep bumps that often buck riders off their bikes – and recently started clearing gaps of around 70 feet, with lots of hang time.

When asked how he beats up to 20 other racers to the same corner, he smiles, shrugs and twists his accelerator hand in mid-air – "I pin it."

Justin’s father Brian also does some racing himself, and his mother Dana and sister Brianna have become fans of the sport. Together they travel around the province, to Alberta, and even the U.S. to race in events.

"I got pretty into it," says Dana. "Most mothers are sitting and hiding their faces, but I’m yelling ‘go faster’ and ‘go higher’. I’m more worried about Brian than Justin actually, because he has to work the next day."

His parents attribute Justin’s success this season his experience on the Arenacross circuit and the fact that he races year-round.

"A lot of kids were beating Justin last season, but after a season in Arenacross, he is way beyond them now," says Brian.

Justin currently races in the 85cc class, and often trains with other young racers in Whistler, including Jonah Randell and Kyle McDonald. Although there are only a few kids his age to train with, more kids are getting into it every year.

They train a lot at the Green River Riding Club track in Pemberton, but because it is still a work in progress, they also visit tracks in Tsawwassen and Nanaimo to do more serious training.

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