Four-wheelin’ champ

Kyler Thau

Did you know Chico has a world champion racer of four-wheeled, all-terrain vehicles (aka ATVs or quads) who’s in the fifth grade? Yep, he’s 11-year-old Kyler Thau. The humble youngster won championships in two classifications last year in his first full year of racing (all at the tender age of 10!). His mother, Michelle, says his biggest race will be in August at the Tennessee ranch of Country Music Hall of Fame singer Loretta Lynn. Gas will cost $4,000, so Thau’s family is looking for sponsors. For more info, call 864-8977.

Which two categories were your world championships in?

One was the 70cc class for 6- to 11-year-olds, and the other was the 90cc class for 8- to 15-year-olds. You get them for having the best record all year. The league is called the World Off-Road Championship Series. The trophies are cool; they’re more like signs with erasable backs. During races my mom writes on them and holds them up to show me how I’m doing.

What makes you so good?

I guess I like winning a lot. It bothers me to be in second place because I can’t go as fast if there are other racers in front of me. So as soon as I get off the starting line I’m usually in first place. Plus, my dad’s very good at fixing up my ATV.

What got you into racing ATVs?

When I was 3 my parents got me a little one. I found out I really liked riding gas-powered things. They go fast and they’re fun. I won first place in my first race when I was 9 and got a big trophy.

How are you doing this year?

Very good. I’m undefeated in the 8- to 15-year-old sport class this year, and it’s halfway through the racing season. In early April in Arizona I won all three classes I raced in. That’s called a sweep. It made me really happy because it was my second sweep this year.

Isn’t racing ATVs dangerous?

Not really. I have lots of safety equipment like a helmet, goggles, gloves, boots, a chest protector, plus neck and back braces to keep me from breaking my neck and back. I’ve only had a few crashes, but I’ve never really gotten hurt.

How do you keep up with school when traveling?

My mom home-schools me on the road in our 40-foot motor home. It’s hard during traveling because of the bumpy trucking lanes we drive on. But I still do well.