Charles Charlton has a roomful of trophies to show from his burgeoning motocross career. Troy Landreville Langley Times

Motocross kid takes torch from dad

The name 'Charlton' is synonymous with dirt bike racing

The 25-year-old photo is equally amusing and gruesome.

It shows the body of the then 25-year-old Charlie Charlton underneath a pile of motorbikes, his arms helplessly at his side, his head buried by a tire.

He survived the wreck — matter of fact, he finished the race.

Charlton dominated the track in the 1980s and early ’90s. In 1985, he captured the Canadian amateur title making him the highest ranked amateur racer in the nation.

In 1992 he won the California Golden State Nationals and went on to live in Thailand, where he raced professionally. He represented Thailand in the Pan Pacific Supercross.

But Charlton’s fearlessness spelled the end of his motocross aspirations. He broke 21 bones over a shortened career and multiple injuries forced him to hang up his racing helmet for good.

“I was on the verge of doing big things in motocross and just ended up getting hurt,” Charlton said. “The femur was a really bad one. I broke my femur and my right tib fib on the bottom. It still bothers me today; I needed three plates and 12 screws (to repair it).”

A quarter of a century later, Charlton is his son’s transport, pit crew, and biggest fan as a new generation of Charlton flies around dirt tracks across Western Canada.

Charlie’s 13-year-old son Charles Evel Charlton is following his dad’s tire tracks and is starting to make his own name on the circuit.

The younger Charlton won a Canadian indoor championship at six years of age and since then “he’s had some ups and downs,” his dad said.

“Last year I was sixth in Canada for 65 cc (10 and 11 year olds),” Charles said.

Charles has a head start on his dad — where Charlie didn’t start racing until he was 10, Charles was on the seat of a dirt bike at just four years of age.

The Aldergrove teen began racing at age five.

Charlton never puts any pressure on his son.

“We sit down in the off-season and we look at all the different schedules,” Charlton said.

“There’s a bunch of different promoting bodies, and we decide what races he wants to do. We discuss the high points and low points of each one and when we’re set on it, we make a calendar and we think about it.”

Then Charlton asks his son a key question: “Are you committed to this?”

“Then if we’re committed to that, we’re committed to that,” Charlton continued. “Then I have to tell all my sponsors, ‘This is what we’re doing.’ He can’t say, ‘I don’t want to do it this week.’ Sometimes he doesn’t want to (race) because it’s raining or something like that but that’s too bad because there’s a lot of money involved. Like, a lot of money.”

Last year he graduated to the super mini class (11- to- 17-year-olds) which is 112cc maximum.

“It’s got a 19-inch front wheel and a 16-inch rear wheel so it’s just a tad smaller than 125cc, and kids can ride them until they’re 17 years old,” Charlton said. “That’s the premier for the small kids’ class before they move up to big bikes.”

Charles finished 12th in Canada in the super mini division.

“He’s done lap times at the track as fast as the top five,” Charlton said. “There’s a lot involved, and I do push him. I push him to be the best he can be, forge his own legacy.”

Looking ahead, Charles is confident about the future.

“There’s jumps I can do that I never used to do, I would just roll over them,” he said. “When I turn 16, I’d like to go pro.”

“We’ve got a five-year plan we’re working on right now,” Charlton said. “At the end of the five-year plan is for him to have his pro license. At that time he can decide whether he wants to pursue that as his life goal or move on to something different.”

Charlton said “every year he does more than he does the year before.”

It’s a matter of discipline away from the track. Studies have shown that pro motocross is as taxing on the body as NFL football. And there are studies that have it ranked at the top of the list of the most physically demanding sports in the world.

“It takes the beating of a boxer with the running of a soccer player,” Charlton said.

With that in mind, Charlton said keeping in shape will in turn help shape his son’s success.

“He likes to ride his bike, he loves racing, he loves going to the track,” Charlton said. “It’s just the behind-the-scenes work, it’s tough.”

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