Raising kids is tricky business. Do we push our interests and hobbies on our children or let them figure it out on their own? Perhaps they just need a nudge and they’ll show us which way they want to go. For David Lawrence, introducing his son Aiden to ATVs at a young age has been a wise decision.
“We knew Aiden would be riding early when he was two years old and figured out how to countersteer while drifting in the house on a self-propelled ATV,” David said. “We got him started on a Panterra 70 cc just to get his feet wet and see if it was something he was going to enjoy. It was an immediate hit and he was hooked.”
David Lawrence introduced his son Aiden to ATVs at a young age and the youngster took to the sport like a pig in mud. — Photo courtesy David Lawrence
David always had an affinity for quads and recently took his passion for ATVing to the next level by creating a race team called DTL Racing. For the last three years, David and Aiden have been racing in Canadian Championship Mud Racing (CCMR).
In that time, father and son have each had multiple podium finishes. David competes in Pro A, Pro B and Supermodified on a 2010 Can-Am Renegade 800 XX with a generation-two 1000 engine bored out to a 1133 cc with all the fixings. Little six-year-old Aiden placed first overall in Youth 1 and third overall in Youth 2 (six to 12 year old class up to 300 cc) on his 2007 Honda TRX 90.
Aiden Lawrence rides a Honda TRX 90. — Photo courtesy David Lawrence
Around their home near Sherwood Park, Alberta, the Lawrences spend a lot of their time riding around the yard, tearing up the lawn while practising launches. David has a few spots in the outlying area that he likes taking the family to as well.
“Bruderheim is a great close spot with a variety of riding,” he said. “Anything that gets a family out enjoying nature and family time is priceless.
“The newly started Alberta Mud Racing is a major hit in this area. It’s a fun-filled family weekend with quads, vendors, food and often a band.”
Age appropriate ATVing
Introducing a young child to ATVing isn’t as simple as tossing them on a vehicle with a helmet and telling them to have a good time. There are a host of issues to consider when suiting up a youngster.
“First and foremost, the child must be big enough to comfortably support the weight of a helmet, then understand the consequences of hitting something,” said David. “We started him on a small quad with the throttle dialed back and multiple safety kill switches including a fob-activated remote shut-off, a pull-cord kill switch from behind the quad as well as a tether attached to the rider.
“Start them slow, get the proper gear, don’t forget to lead by example by making sure you are also wearing your personal protective equipment.”
Whoops on the course
No matter how many precautions are taken, there is always a risk that something negative could happen, regardless of age. Both father and son have had their share of close calls and setbacks.
“Aiden has been really good—just one pucker moment coming out of the pit at full throttle and came precariously close to another racer,” said David. “For myself, I was in a tight battle between first and second place. We bumped into each other and I went over, swamping my quad. I also got run over during a race—that one hurt and I’ve still got the marks on my chest to remind me of it.”
Aiden Lawrence has already placed first overall in Youth 1 and third overall in Youth 2. — Photo courtesy David Lawrence
Because of the increased danger factor present in racing, children’s races have extra precautions in place.
“For the Youth 1 and Youth 2 classes, the tracks are just a straight run for the kids,” said David. “It is a closed course. Only two or three kids race at a time so there is always room. There are plenty of spectators and volunteers at the sidelines ready to jump in at any time. Also, tether switches are mandatory.”
As you might expect, it’s a lot of money and effort to get kids involved in ATVing. But, as David sees it, the benefits are exceptional.
“Aiden’s confidence has grown immensely,” said David Lawrence. “It’s great to see the way he carries himself now.” — Photo courtesy David Lawrence
“It has been such an amazing and rewarding experience,” David said. “We have loved watching him find himself as a person and a racer. His confidence has grown immensely. He has fast decision-making and much improved motor skills. It’s also given him a sense of drive and determination to always improve on himself. It’s great to see the way he carries himself now.
“Aiden often wants to get outside to practise because, as Ricky Bobby and Aiden say, ‘If you’re not first, you’re last!’ ”
Another one of Aiden’s noteworthy quotes is a comment that most fathers want to hear in one form or another: “I want to be fast like you, Dad.”
Besides the tremendous success that Aiden Lawrence has had as a racer at age six, his decision-making and motor skills have developed by leaps and bounds as well. — Photo courtesy David Lawrence