On the Radar: Bradley VanLeeuwen
By Jeff McConkey
Name: Bradley VanLeeuwen
Hometown: Ingersoll, Ontario
School and Grade: Graduated, working full-time
Bike: Yamaha YZ250f and YZ450f
Race Club: TVR, AMO, CMRC
Classes: MX1, MX2, MX3 Intermediate
How did you get started in racing?
I always wanted a dirt bike growing up and bugged my parents for years till I finally got my first bike when I was 15 years old. I just rode trails near my house for that summer. During the winter we found out about TVR so we signed up. I didn’t know anything about racing so I spent every minute on YouTube watching instructional videos, as well as videos of local tracks, hoping to be prepared. Once I did my first race at Gopher Dunes, I’ve never stopped.
What is your favourite track and why?
I would have to say my favourite track is Motopark. It is always prepped properly and the track crew there live motocross and put everything into making not just race days but every practice day the best it can be. There’s no shortage of passion over there, that’s for sure.
Who is your favourite rider and why?
Bobby Kiniry! He’s is ALWAYS smiling and willing to talk to the fans. Yet such a tough racer on the track. I love his bulldog style. It sucks he retired, would’ve been nice to see him win a championship up here!
What Canadian Pro do you look up to and why?
There are many Canadian pros that I look up to, but the first one that comes to mind would be Nathan Bles. I remember hanging around the Xtreme Toys shop in London and seeing him there all the time smiling and talking racing. That was when he was still an amateur and I was just getting into the sport. I’ve seen him transition from amateur to pro over these years and it gives me inspiration that I can do it too. I have had the pleasure to race with him at many TVR races and he’s given me some pointers here and there. He’s really fun and happy guy.
Who is your hero?
I’d have to name 3: Blair Morgan, Dusty Klatt and JSR. My dad took me to the Walton national in 2006 and that was my first motocross race I ever saw. All three of them rode for Blackfoot Honda and they finished the season 1, 2, 3. I can still see them hitting the big step-up every time I go to Walton. It’s something that’s always stuck in my mind.
What are your goals for this season, and what is it going to take to reach them?
My goals are definitely to stay healthy; I’ve broken my wrist two times the last two seasons and it’s held me back longer than I’d like, but I’m 100% now. I want to qualify for some nationals that are nearby, be up front and challenging for moto wins at all the local AMO races, finish top 10 in all classes at the TransCan, then go and see if I can win another Madoc National.
I’ve been working hard on my fitness and I’m in the best shape of my life. I don’t go down south to train in the winter, so I’ll be riding every day [now]. I’ll be doing everything I can to reach my goals.
What are your biggest accomplishments?
I would have to say winning the Madoc National in the Intermediate class. It was my first time racing there and there were a lot of fast guys. I loved the track and my bike was working perfectly with the track all weekend long. It was a great way to end the summer.
What is your favourite part about going to the races?
I love rolling in with the camper and picking a spot, setting up camp, seeing all my buddies and fellow racers, walking around seeing who is and isn’t there that weekend, and just relaxing before all the motos start the next day. And my mom always seems to make some special foods when we go to the track!
When it comes to the races themselves, the best part is that start! Nothing is better than starting up my bike alongside many other riders and fighting for that holeshot.
What do you like to do when you aren’t racing?
When I’m not racing, well, that means I’ve got to work on the bikes and get them ready for the next race! But when I’m not doing that you can find me playing guitar or out skateboarding or just out riding my bikes.
Who would you like to thank?
Well, I can’t thank my parents enough, without them I would never had even ridden a dirt bike let alone race, for that I’m forever grateful. Also, I’d like to thank Kassie Boone for always riding with me and keeping it fun, and teaching me a thing or two about style. Mike Parliament for helping me with suspension and showing me what a set up bike is supposed to feel like. The guys from Xtreme Toys London and Ken Thiessen for giving me durable and reliable engines. Thanks everyone and can’t wait to see you all at the races!