ATHLETE FEATURE: Rocco Landers

ATHLETE FEATURE: Rocco Landers

© 2013, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By Michael Gougis.

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Age 8, Los Angeles, California Rocco Landers had a rough start to his two-wheel career. He was two and had just jumped onto a little PW50. Under the watchful eyes of his parents, the bike started heading for a parked car–and Mom snatched the tyke off the vehicle. Landers has gotten better–a lot better–since then. Born into a racing family, Landers, 8, of Los Angeles, won nine of 10 class championships in Minimoto USA competition last year. And he’s set to embark on an adventure that defies description: Racing overseas while still in single-digits. Most childhoods aren’t nearly this cool … Saying Landers was born into a racing family is an understatement. His father, Stoney, raced WERA Nationals and then WERA and CCS club racing, as well as WERA National Endurance races. And Stoney Landers founded the Minimoto USA racing series in 2012, looking for a way to provide aspiring racers an entrance into the sport. Rocco Landers ran his first race at Buttonwillow Raceway Park’s kart course in March 2010. He did well–“Really good. I got first place,” he says. It wasn’t long before he graduated from the Blata he started on, and started racing his 40cc Italian-made DM with 6.5-inch wheels. In 2012, Landers raced a Honda NSR50 and a KTM 50 set up for pavement use. But at the end of the season, his father felt that he wasn’t ready for bigger bikes, so Landers is going back to the little DM for 2013. Racing’s still a giggle for Landers, as it should be at that age. When asked what his favorite part of racing is, he says, “It’s fun to race against my friends. And my leathers! They’re my favorite color…” This year, Landers is going to Italy to race in a minimoto series sanctioned by the CIV, the same group that runs the Italian National Superbike series. It’s a seven-race series, and the bikes (Landers will be racing a DM Telai) are power-restricted, so his father feels it will be a safe place for Landers to learn more about road racing. “The bikes are restricted, so the kids have to learn to go faster. It forces them to work on the foundation of their riding, which is to learn to get around a corner!” Stoney Landers says. It’s an adventure, and one centered on racing–an activity Rocco Landers truly enjoys. “I like it that the bikes are fast, and that I’ve won almost all my races,” he says.

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