Two local snowmobile racers, both the youngest riders in their categories, are heading to the Canadian Snowcross Racing Association (CSRA) National Championship Finals this weekend as leaders on the scoreboard.
The CSRA Dayco Snowcross National Championships are at the Horseshoe Valley Resort in Barrie on March 30 and 31. Racer #459 Jake Weir is an 18-year-old from Bracebridge that holds first place for the Pro category as he enters the championship weekend. Racer #139 Cameron Wachtler is a 14-year-old from Torrance that is currently in second place for the Pro-lite class. They are the youngest riders in their categories and both started racing at age four. Cameron also went up two classes since last season, moving from Junior to Pro-lite, despite sustaining serious injuries just last year.
Jake, who is in his final year at Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School, took second place and first place at the races in the Rockstar Energy National Snowcross Event in Kitchener on March 23 and 24. He’s heading into the championship weekend at first place in the nationals.
“It feels really good for my second year in Pro,” Jake said. “If I do good this weekend, I should be able to win it. I just have to finish top five every race and I should be good, so hopefully I can get a couple more wins in the two days of racing.”
Jake said he has dreamed of being in this position since he started racing as a child. For his parents, it’s been exciting to watch his determination and skill grow over the years.
“It’s been a bit of a long road here, he started when he was four years old. It’s hard to believe that he’s racing Pro now,” said Jake’s father, Sean Weir. “I can’t believe how far he’s come in this short a time. I’m not going to lie, it’s brings a tear to my eye a bit when I think about it.”
Jake’s mother Carrie agreed, saying that while the racing can be terrifying to watch, he’s worked hard to get where he is. Sean said his primary hope for the weekend is that Jake rides “smooth and fast and most of all safely.”
“If we can get him out front there next weekend, them boys are in big trouble,” Sean said.
Cameron, who attends St. Dominic Secondary School, took back to back wins last weekend, putting him in second place in the Pro-lite category for nationals. Last year, Cameron was airlifted to Sick Kids Hospital after getting injured in practice. He broke his pelvis, his wrist and his elbow in addition to fracturing his hip sockets.
“When he said he wanted to race for this year, we kind of said that if he could even try to be in the top five, that would be an amazing accomplishment,” said Cameron’s mother, Lauri Wachtler. “That was his personal goal, just to end maybe in fifth place or sixth place, but to see him up winning the races, I don’t think anybody expected that.”
Lauri said that she wasn’t sure he was going to be able to return to racing, but not only did he return, he advanced from Junior to Pro-lite despite his time recovering.
“One of my first questions when I was in the hospital was, ‘When can I ride again?’” Cameron said. “I never really thought that there could’ve been a chance that I was done. I was just focused on when I could be back.”
Getting back into the sport, Cameron said he initially aimed just to have a fun season, but now that he’s so close to a win, he wants to take the championship. Lauri said it’s been tear-jerking to watch Cameron succeed so much after recovery and to see the support he receives from the community as such a young racer.
“It was exactly a year ago today that kid was in a wheelchair and everything else, and now he’s up excelling with people that have been racing for years,” Lauri said. “It’s unbelievable.”
For more on the CSRA Snowcross Championships, including live streams of races, visit their website here.