Merritt youngster gets pro experience in California

By on January 31, 2018
Evan Schultz normally wears number “314” to signify the age he started racing at (three) and the year he first raced ­— 2014. (Photo courtesy of Courtney and John Bowman).

 

Seven-year-old Evan Schultz followed in the footsteps — or tire tracks — of his older brother after he was selected to take part in the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge in Anaheim, Calif.

Schultz, a student at Nicola-Canford Elementary, was the only Canadian in the field of 15 competitors from across the United States. The Junior Supercross Challenge aims to give participants a taste of the big-time arena racing atmosphere by inviting kids to compete during professional supercross events.

And with only 15 competitors in the field during the Anaheim race at Angel Stadium on Jan. 20, Evan had to put together an impressive resume to even be invited, explained his father, Monty Schultz.

“You put in there what you’ve had for racing experience for the last two years. Not only that, but they are interested in how you’re doing in school as well,” said Monty. “You have to get a report card — they want to see that you’re doing well in school too.”

But while Evan was the only Canadian rider in the field in Anaheim, he wasn’t the first rider from the Nicola Valley to be selected for the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge — in fact, he wasn’t even the first Schultz.

Older brother Lane Schultz, who is still racing as well, competed during a Junior Supercross Challenge event in Arizona, back in 2015.

At that time, when the Herald got in touch with the Schultz family to hear about Lane’s experience, the eldest rider alluded to the fact that his brother was just starting his racing career — at three and a half years old.

Schultz poses for a shot in his KTM gear ahead of the Junior Supercross Challenge. (Photo courtesy of Jill Schultz).

Although Evan wasn’t along for the race in Arizona, he got his own taste of the screaming crowds in Anaheim, as 60,000 supercross fans filled the arena to cheer on the pros, and witness the next generation of riders in action.

“This was the first time where he’s on TV and in front of 60,000 people. It was definitely pretty cool for him,” said Monty.

And while professional prize money wasn’t on the line for the under-10 competitors, Monty said the organization goes to great lengths in order to simulate every part of the pro experience for the youngsters.

“They get to do exactly the same thing the pros do — they go through an interview, they sit down and sign posters,” said Monty. “It’s pretty neat.”

Even the experience of travelling down to California for a competition was something special for the young rider.

“I’m not sure whether he was more excited [to ride] or to ride on the airplane,” said Monty.

Ultimately, the event is about the experience, rather than the competition itself, explained Monty. Although Evan can count himself as the top finishing Canadian competitor in the race, at ninth overall.

In addition to the indoor arena races, both boys compete in the outdoor season, which begins towards the end of March.

“The outdoor season is about eight or nine rounds until the beginning of July, and then they shut it down for July and August because it’s so hot,” said Monty. “It’s pretty busy in the summer, but winter time is pretty spaced out.”

Their sport forces the family to hit the road quite often, making their way to Popkum, Mission, Kelowna and Kamloops on the regular for practice.

Being located between all the courses in the Nicola Valley is convenient in that sense, said Monty.

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