ICYMI | Catching Up with Kaven Benoit

By Billy Rainford

Kaven Benoit retired from full-time Professional Motocross last season, but it hasn’t seemed to slow down his competitiveness.

He just raced the Challenge Quebec Provincial at his home track in Bon Conseil and it sounds like he had everyone covered speed-wise except Josh Cartwright in the 450 Pro class.

Kaven did, however, take the overall in the class with 2-1 motos.

We caught up with him last week for Frid’Eh Update #26, but in case you missed it, here it is by itself:

Catching Up with Kaven Benoit. | Bigwave photo

We caught up with #26 Kaven Benoit to see what he’s been up to since announcing his retirement from Pro Racing last season.

If you follow him on social media, you’ll already know there’s no moss growing under him. He’s kept himself very busy over the past few months and is also a new father!

We go in touch with him to ask him a bunch of questions, so check out what the fast and friendly Quebec rider had to say:

Here’s what Kaven had to say when we spoke with him this week. | Bigwave photo

Direct Motocross: Hello, Kaven. I’m glad we get to talk with you this week. We’ve got lots to talk about but let’s take it back to the beginning of your riding history. How did you get started in Motocross?
Kaven Benoit: I got started in motocross after watching my childhood hero Carl Vaillancourt (Sorry, JSR :p) ride in Drummondville. 1993 was the year and Carl was in the peak of his career. I fell in love with the sport at a young 4 years of age. 

What was your first number and how did you choose it?

My first number was 6. Don’t ask, I don’t remember why ahah. Probably the digit that was available in the vendor trailer at the race track. You know what I mean you are old enough to remember that. Way before the fancy graphic kits. 

Kaven and his battles with Vince Friese in the 250 class were legendary. – Bigwave photo

Do you remember how your first race went?
I think I got 5th… we were only 5 kids tho. I was the youngest by far. At first they didn’t wanted me to race. They said I was too young cause all the kids were 8-9 years old.

Who were your biggest rivals as you came up through the amateur ranks?
I could say I was always stressed out when Tyler Medaglia would show up at our provincials. We had some good battles back then too. Marc-Antoine Genereux and Tim Tremblay were two good rivals as well. They became good friends too down the road.
What year did you turn Pro and how did that year go for you? 

I think it’s 2005. Learning year I guess. I raced the provincials and could run up front but was too weak to hold on. I was like 120 pounds. Mike Haist from Factory Connection was scratching his head trying to get the suspension that soft lol. 
You announced your retirement last season. When you look back over your career, is there a race or moment that stands out the most for you? I can think of a few pretty amazing moments!
My top of the list is not even winning a race, it’s kind of funny. MXON 2016 in Maggiora, Italy. That feeling of rubbing elbows with the best riders in the world was an incredible feeling. Raced up front all weekend and I was really proud of myself. 

Kaven has been a Pro rider for a long time. Here he is at Sand Del Lee back in 2008. | Bigwave photo

Injuries, starting a family and over it. This is the short version and I’ll stick to those words.

Another great accomplishment would be back-to-back MX2 championships. It’s a hard one to do. 

There would be couple more but those two stand out more.
Can you sum up your decision to retire? It looked like you were on the verge of winning a 450 MX title very soon. 
Injuries, starting a family and over it. This is the short version and I’ll stick to those words.
How are your injuries now?

My body feels better now but moto did permanent damage. Just have to live with it now. It was a nice journey and happy about my career.  
And now you’re a dad. How’s that going and will we see him get introduced to the Moto or will he have golf clubs or a hockey stick in his hand?

Kaven is now a dad so we’ll have to watch out for another Benoit in the future. | Bigwave photo

It’s been great. A totally new life that’s for sure. I try to be involved as much as possible. They grow fast, it’s unbelievable. Time will tell if he wants to ride dirt bikes but I won’t force him. He will have to want it bad to convince me. Right now I don’t feel like starting that whole process again, but we’ll see. 
You did some ice racing and snowcross riding over the winter. Are these things you see yourself continuing with? Could it be your ticket to an X Games appearance?

Yeah, I was searching for some hobbies over the winter. Snowbiking was a lot of fun but I have zero interest in racing it. I enjoy riding the backcountry stuff.

Injuries are what eventually led Kaven to make the decision to call it a career. | Bigwave photo

And then you came back to race the Riviere Du Loup Arenacross. How did they talk you into doing that one?! How did it go?

At first I wasn’t that excited about racing. I mainly wanted to organize a school there to promote my other event I had in that area June 15-16. The promoters got me with a package of school plus racing. I actually had fun doing it. But I stayed myself and got hurt in practice. Went to the hospital for stitches before the night show. It was painful but I didn’t quit.

I won a qualifier and the semi final. In the final I was up front but made couple mistakes and finished fourth. I had like 3 hours of riding before that race so the 4-minute race felt super-long. ahah.

I will continue to watch from a distance and it’s ok like that. I don’t miss it for now.

So, what’s next for you? Once a racer, always a racer. You must be thinking of something! 

Not thinking about racing, trust me! I am good with my decision and don’t regret it so far. I am still around the sport for now organizing school. It’s something I enjoy doing and people enjoy their experience as well.

KTM kept me as an ambassador and super-happy about it. Motovan is part of my program as well and happy to be back with them. I am involved with couple marketing stuff at KTM and it’s ok for now. 

Kaven’s ride at the 2016 MXON in Italy is one of the things that stands out from his career for him. | Bigwave photo

I would like to thank everyone that has supported me over the years. The numerous sponsors and especially KTM for giving me my first factory ride opportunity. I always felt at home there and always had all the support needed. Being part of a company that is such committed to racing was amazing.

Thanks to all the fans and the friends I made down the road for making this journey as good as it was.

I would also like to thank Motovan and Kutvek Amerika for being involved in my 2019 plans.