They can’t say exactly when it happened or what was its cause, but somewhere along the line Wyatt Wilkin, Claire Wilkin and Tyler Rumpke caught quad racing fever. Now, from mid February until November, they race pretty much every weekend, up and down the east coast from Florida to New York and all over Ohio.
Wyatt Wilkin, a 2018 Hillsboro High School graduate, is now a professional, ranked 17th nationally in the Pro Am class. “It’s what I do as a job,” he said. “As of now I do make money racing.”
His sister Claire Wilkin, a junior at HHS, says she does it for fun. But last month she won a national race in Georgia in her women’s unlimited amateur class and was recently ranked second nationally.
Tyler Rumpke, a senior at HHS, didn’t start racing until he was around 14. He competes in the College B Amateur class and recently took fifth place in the class in a race in Florida.
“I think when people think of us they think we go to things like the races at the Highland County Fair. But that’s nothing compared to what we do,” Wyatt Wilkin said. “I don’t think people realize the extent of what we do. We take it serious.”
Indeed. They have a daily routine that includes maintenance of their shop and quads, plus their own daily workout programs at the Highland County YMCA.
“Racing is an endurance sport. We’re not going to the Y to see how much we can lift. It’s more like cardio and endurance,” Wyatt Wilkin said.
Then on the weekends they hop into the short bus that was converted into a camper, with a trailer containing all their racing gear, and head wherever the race schedule leads them. Wyatt and Claire’s father, Josh Wilkin, does most of the driving, with Wyatt giving him breaks. Since they leave on Thursdays and usually return Sunday night, they often do school work while they’re on the road or in between races.
Most weekends they alternate between the Grand National Cross Country series that takes them up and down the east coast and the Ohio Cross Country Racing series. Sometimes they race one place Saturday, then find another place to race Sunday.
Wyatt Wilkin started riding when he was about 4 and racing when he was around 5 after following his dad to events. Claire Wilkin caught the fever watching her brother and father race. For Rumpke it was a little different.
He said when he and Wyatt Wilkin were in junior high school they wrestled together, but really didn’t know each other. Then one day Wyatt Wilkin wanted someone to go to a Supercross race with him, and he asked Rumpke.
“When I got home I asked my mom, ‘Hey, can you get me a quad?’ She didn’t know what she was getting into at that point, and things just took off,” Rumpke said.
Their schedule takes a lot of time and energy, but all three are quick to point out that it’s not all about racing. They said that at about every race they meet new people, there are always bands and lots of activities for kids, and on Sundays there are church groups.
“It’s almost like a vacation and race at the same time every week,” Rumpke said.
Claire Wilkin said she does it mostly for the fun, but she would like to finish in the top five in her class.
Rumpke said the discipline the sport has brought to his life helped him be a better person on and off the track. “I want to take it to the next step, but I’m having fun and just want to see how far it can take me,” he said.
Wyatt Wilkin said that at the level he’s at, he always feels like there’s s a target on his back. But he said it also seems like it’s always the person putting in the most work that gets the best results. “So I’m always working to be that person,” he said.
They all have multiple sponsors that help pay the bills.
Wyatt Wilkin is sponsored by: JM Motorsports, Shoei, Atlas, Nine2, Moose Racing, Alpinestars, Wickflow, Torc 1, Acerbis, Graphics by Edge, Bad Plastics, Motoseat, Motion Pro, Crushed MX, HMF, Alba, Maxxis, Rocket Ron, Sunstar, Gorrell Racing, Ls4, Rage ATV, Blud Lubricants, DRW, Evans Antifreeze, Starkey, Custom Axis, DirtNasty, Ethan Haught, Bill Frazier, John Knauff, Downs Construction, McCoy Plumbing, Big Ernie’s, Tux and Tan, Highland Power Wash, Lewis Financial, and OXCR.
Rumpke is sponsored by Alba Racing, Moose Racing, Uni Airfilters, Joey Middleton, 100% Goggles, Alpinestars, Official Leatt, DirtNasty, Sparks Racing, ODI Grips, Parts Unlimited, FiveSixO graphics, Houser Racing, Blud Lubricants.
Claire Wilkin is sponsored by JM Motorsports, Graphics by Edge, Blud Lubricants, Pro Taper, Alba, HMF, and DirtNasty.
They are three kids having the time of their lives, but said it’s hard to describe what motivates them.
“I think it’s the dedication we put in for so long, and striving to do better, so every weekend we’re looking to do something we haven’t done yet,” Wyatt Wilkin said. “Plus, we’re kind of a small little team, so if someone’s slacking the others pick them up and tell us we gotta keep going.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.