Some kids follow in their father’s footsteps. Daxton Bennick appears to be following his dad’s motorcycle tire tracks.
Bennick – the son of former professional motocross racer Todd Bennick – recently captured the prestigious Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross championship at Loretta Lynn’s Hurricane Mills Ranch in Tennessee.
Daxton, 7, won first place in the 51cc special limited class for the 4-6 age group (Jan. 1 was the age group cut-off date). The Nebo Elementary student thoroughly dominated the field, winning all three motos by wide margins and lapping all but a handful of riders in each one.
He said winning the first race gave him confidence for the other two.
“At first, I felt scared, and then the first qualifier, I won,” said Daxton, “and then the second one, I felt like I would have a good chance at making it.”
He made it all right, quickly proving himself to be the class of the division – no simple feat considering the level of competition. In order to qualify for the championships, riders from seven different regions in the U.S. had to win at the regional and area levels. Daxton was one of 30 top racers competing in his class.
Daxton’s dad was a little surprised at his son’s dominant performance at the nationals, but added he knew all along the youngster had plenty of natural ability on the bike.
“When he was 2 ½, he was riding a bike with training wheels,” said Todd. “He was riding around like a madman and jumping around like crazy. When he turned 3, the training wheels came off, and by the time he was 4, he was jumping ramps.”
Daxton began riding motorcycles at 3 ½, and took to it like the proverbial duck to water, according to his dad.
“When he was about 5, you could tell he had a natural talent to ride,” said Todd, who competed in the nationals several times after making his debut there at age 13. “His style was already taking shape. He just looked right on the bike.”
Naturally, Todd offers plenty of helpful advice to the young racer, but is careful not to push him too much.
“A lot of it, for him, is so natural,” said Daxton’s mom, Carrie. “Everybody thinks Todd pushes him a lot and works with him a lot, but he doesn’t. He helps him, but not as much as you would think. A lot of it is natural and it comes easy for him.”
And the best piece of advice Daxton has gotten from his dad?
“He says, always be smart, pick good lines and don’t follow,” said Daxton.
Todd said his son followed that mantra to a tee at Hurricane Mills.
“He’s calculating,” said Todd. “He knew exactly where he needed to be.”
Next season, Daxton will try and be in the right places again, this time against older riders: He’ll race with the 7 and 8 year olds on a bigger, faster bike. Todd said Daxton could be poised for a long career in the sport, provided he’s ready to put in the countless hours of practice needed to compete at the highest level.
“We’ll see,” said Todd. “The talent is there. If the work ethic is there, the sky is the limit. He’s definitely gifted. I always tell him, you’ve got to dream big. That’s where it starts.”
It won’t hurt Daxton’s dreaming that he’ll have a trusted friend with him at night. The youngster said his mom agreed to let him keep his motorcycle in his room if he won the nationals.
“The best part about winning is I get to keep my bike in my room,” he said with a smile. “Mom told me that dad used to have one in his room, and I wanted one in my room.”
Like father, like son.