Kole King is only 25 (he’ll be 26 on Feb. 25), but the 2014 Burlington High School graduate is already on top of the world.
King, who competed in the 2019 X Games, reached the pinnacle of the sport of flat-track motorcycle racing last month when he won the Grand National Hooligan Championship in Florida.
King put a tidy bow on his banner season in Pensacola, Fla. In four days at the Panhandle Clash World Finals, King earned three wins, an overall championship globe, and crowned the GNHC Championship, the grandfather of them all.
In 13 races during the 2021 season, King came away with eight wins, winning the title by 34 points.
At the age of 25, this Burlington underground utility construction worker is at the top of the flat-track motorcycle racing world.
“We had a really good year,” King said. “We built a new bike, a KTM 790 Duke. Our first race was in Lima, Ohio, and we won. It was amazing how well the bike handled. worked very well.
“We ended up hurting the first engine, so we bought a new engine for that one. It took a while to iron out the bugs on the bike. We bought it road-going and set it up for the short tracks.”
King’s season took him to Tennessee, where he raced at Loretta Lynn’s ranch.
“I finished third there,” King said. “It was a really great opportunity to race there.”
The third race of the season, scheduled for Joliet, Illinois, was watered down, so King and his team — his parents and his fiancée, Allison — packed their bags and headed to Neoga, Illinois, where he won another Victoire.
The following weekend he won a big race in Galesburg, Illinois, then traveled to Elk Horn, Illinois the next day for a race, where he finished third.
But the big weekend came in Florida, where King ended his dominant season in style.
At 25, he is already on top of the world.
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Kole King’s road to becoming the Grand National Hooligan Champion
But all was not rosy. And nothing was easy either. It takes a lot of hard work, endurance, and courage to get to where King is.
“I’ve been running since I was five and riding since I was four,” King said. “Right now I have 21 years of experience under my belt. They say you have to do something for 10,000 hours to be considered a pro. I definitely have 10,000 hours on a bike. I can’t I can’t stop doing it. Once you’ve done it, it gets in your blood. It’s so nice. I can’t get enough of it.”
The race took its toll on King’s body, from bumps and bruises to aches and pains. He estimates he has had 26 broken bones over the years, including two broken vertebrae in the front of his neck when he hit a concrete wall. Although he suffered neck and back pain from the collision, the fractures were not discovered for four or five years.
King hasn’t broken his bones since 2011, but he had a nasty fall in Pensacola that drew blood. He was able to get rid of it.
“I feel older than I should, but if I keep moving I’m fine,” King said of his latest fall. “I don’t roll over my head like some guys do. I try to stay above the ground.”
King has big plans for the future. He will have the No. 1 plate for the 2022 season as the reigning Grand National Hooligan Champion.
“The Grand National Hooligan Championship Series is getting bigger next year. They’re going to have a Midwest Series, an East Series and a Southern Series. All of them will have a winner. Then at the end of the year, the top 10 from each will go to a race to see which series has the best runners. That will be one of my goals,” King said. “I also want to try the Bagger Racing League. They have Harley-Davidsons that they turn into racers. They do a lot of road racing. It’s kind of up in the air at the moment.”
King has another goal in mind. After finishing third at the 2019 X Games in Minnesota in the Hooligan Races, King wants a second chance to prove himself.
“I was wrecked there, but I wasn’t hurt,” King said. “I want a chance at redemption at the X Games.”
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This article originally appeared on The Hawk Eye: Burlington’s Kole King Wins Motorcycle Racing Championship