Five-year-old excels on motocross circuit
AMHERST - When most children his age are just learning to ride a bicyle, Damon Burbine is flying around the region's motocross tracks.
The five-year-old River Hebert area boy is putting his talents up against some of the region's top young riders in the Canadian Motocross Racing Atlantic series. Throughout the spring and summer, he and as many as 13 other four- to six-year-olds competed at events in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
"I have to admit the first time he went out on the track I was a little nervous, and when he had his first flip I was scared out of my mind, but he really enjoys it and it really is very safe," Burbine's mother Stacey Gilroy said. "It's amazing to see him race and it's so exciting to watch. Once I saw him race for the first time and saw what he could do, I was pumped."
Burbine, who also plays minor hockey with the Tim Hortons Timbits, picked up the racing bug back when he was two and first rode a snowmobile. From there he began driving a Yamaha PW motorbike at age four and graduated to the 50 cc KTM bike that he uses on the circuit.
Gilroy thought Damon would need training wheels when he first got on the bike, but as soon as he sped off she realized they would not be required.
"I really like to ride, it's fun and I have a lot of friends," said Damon, who turns six on Christmas Day. "I like to go fast and I like to jump."
While Gilroy understands some parents would think she's nuts for letting her son race at such a young age, she said safety is always the first concern and the gear the racers wear is very protective.
"People are like, 'Oh my gosh, you let him do that?' but it's safe," she said.
This was his first year on the circuit and he excelled, picking up trophies and awards at all 12 events.
From participating in an arena-cross event last April, he moved to the outdoor tracks during the summer, placing first in the spring series with 329 points (defeating his nearest competition by 99 points) and second in the fall series that recently wrapped up.
Gilroy credits Tim and Stacey Cormier of Sackville, N.B., and their sons Dylan, Lucas and Ethan for fostering Damon's love of motocross and said his father, Jason Burbine, has helped as a coach and huge supporter.
"It's amazing how everyone is so supportive of each other, cheering each other on," she said. "It's really something to see the boys racing so hard on the track and then playing together in the sand pile between races."