BERLIN – Some kids learn to swing a bat when they’re 2 years old. Other kids learn to throw a football. When Kobe VanFossen turned two his father, Scott, took him out in the back yard and taught him to race four-wheelers. A year later VanFossen was racing competitively and has become a perennial name among point leaders ever since.
Now 6 years old, the diminutive Ocean City Elementary first grader seems all the smaller between two of his recently-earned first place trophies. The 2010 Maryland State Champion for his age bracket, VanFossen is polite but very subdued among strangers unless he’s on his four-wheeler. Once atop the bike he’s obviously comfortable and borderline chatty, speaking clearly and directly.
VanFossen hopes to become a top-flight professional racer and has already been putting in the time to make it happen. He studies the sport as much as he practices it and has already taken to evaluating the track before the race.
The 4-6 year old and 6-8 year old brackets in which VanFossen competes run on different tracks than the older racers. Instead of multiple sharp hills, Scott said they have “table-top” dirt hills. VanFossen can get air but isn’t ever put in the dangerous position of having to gage the distance between jumps relative to his speed. That doesn’t mean his just gets on the bike and goes, however. Track inspection is still an important part of his pre-race regime.
“I look for what line to take [if I want to pass],” he said. He has a particular understand already of the different tactics and pitfalls associated with the sport and continues to develop them under his father’s tutelage.
For his part Scott recently gave up racing in favor of his son’s increasing interest and improvement. Racing is not only time intensive requiring nearly constant work on the vehicles to make sure they’re safe and efficient, practice and travel to and from races all over the country, it is also expensive. The costs of repairs, tools, gear and travel are a significant burden for the family, especially with VanFossen’s two brothers racing as well.
His mother, Tracey, runs the business end of the organization, coordinating dates, keeping track of schedules and arranging for travel.
VanFossen also recently attended motocross school where he received instruction from Dustin Wimmer, the current and six time AMA ATV Pro Motocross national champion. VanFossen said it was exciting to meet and speak with his hero, especially given the now 23-year-old started his career at age 9 and joined the national tour at 14 years old.
Tracey and Scott are more than ardent supporters, topping the sponsor’s list. In addition to the logistical support they supply, VanFossen’s parents also make up the difference between their son’s limited sponsorship funding and his financial requirements.
The youngster does his part, though, winning sponsorships from local businesses as well as racing gear companies. He recently composed a sponsorship letter soliciting additional support. It’s one of the many ways he’s already demonstrating his desire to be a professional. VanFossen is already developing an understanding about commitment in ratio to requirements. It’s an impressive amount of drive for a 6 year old, and the stuff champions are made of.