Ten-year-old motocross rider Kyle Skillman laid on the ground unconscious for minutes. He would soon get taken to the hospital where he spent two days after landing on a rider who had crashed on the downslope of a jump.
His dad, Randy, feared for his son.
“A lot of things went wrong in a hurry,” Randy said. “He had a major concussion and was bleeding from his mouth while laying downhill unconscious and the medics didn’t want to touch him.”
Five months later, Kyle, donning a shaggy hairdo his dad jokes he needs to cut, sits next to his bike with a smile as he awaits another night of Hannegan Speedway racing, where Kyle leads the points standings in the 65 cc (9-11) class, the super mini (7-11) class and the 85 cc (12-15) class.
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The Conway native didn’t let an accident that could have killed him get in the way of the sport he loves and has been competing in since he was 3 years old.
Randy, meanwhile, is just one example of the fathers who have to watch their sons race, knowing that at any moment a crash can change their life. Still, Randy let Kyle make the decision when it came to getting on the bike again.
“It was totally up to him. I didn’t know if he would ever race again,” Randy said. “He doesn’t remember the accident and he wants to ride and that’s what we’re doing. ... He’s a tough little kid.”
So when Kyle says he wants to go pro eventually and the way to get there is to win races, Randy interjects: “And stay healthy.”
Randy wouldn’t want to change the family bonding activity that he, Kyle and older brother, Randal, share.
“It keeps them occupied. We race here on Thursday nights, practice Tuesday nights at one of our tracks and race on weekends,” Randy said. “But the kids also have to wash their bikes and help maintain them, so we’re hanging out a lot together. They see exactly what it takes. It’s not easy but when they’re done racing, you see them out there playing in the dirt with all their friends.”
And Randy will keep helping them as long as they want to continue in the sport. For Kyle at the moment, that means getting to the professional circuit.
While Kyle is certainly showing his talent, by leading classes at Hannegan and winning major events such as the Pacific Racing Organization Northwest Series — a 10-round circuit featuring the best riders in the Northwest — the road to the pros is no easy task.
“It’s a tough sport to get to the bigs, only a handful make it,” Randy said. “If they want to continue on, we’ll go for it.”
For now, Kyle will continue to hone his skills at Hannegan and, hopefully, with no more trips to the hospital.