From the moment he began riding motorbikes at just two years old, Joel Kelso has never stopped racing. But despite plenty of raw natural talent and a thirst for glory, this Darwin boy has already faced his fair share of challenges. From COVID-19 striking during his first year in the Junior World Championship, to a series of unlucky injuries that resulted in months on the sideline, Kelso isn’t one to stay down. Here’s why Wild Tech is backing his journey to the big stage.
A country kid from way back, Kelso was born in the historic gold fields town of Gympie, Queensland before upping sticks to Darwin when he was 11 – where he lived until just recently. It was in country towns where he learned to not just ride, but race.
“My sister was always on a bike since I was born,” Kelso remembers. “Since she was doing it, I thought I’d give that a crack. We started racing together as a family.”
Back then it wasn’t about the motorbike scene or the competition; it was just about the drive. He didn’t have any solid goals to get into the MotoGP, but his skill was apparent and, when he turned 18, he had a sudden desire to make a push for the top.
“I started out racing in motocross and flat track when I was younger. After dominating there, I moved on to road racing at around age 8 or 9. I found myself winning consistently for the next five to six years.”
Next stop: winning the Australian Moto3 Championship in 2017, which was his highest accolade at that time. Then came the decision to move to Europe and compete in the Campionato Italiano di Velocità (CIV), before stepping up into the Junior World Championship. After some noteworthy performances there, he was a shoe-in for a permanent riding spot in the Moto3 World Championship – where he competes today.
“It hasn’t always been easy,” Kelso admits. “Racing motorbikes is one of the most expensive sports you can do. Mum had to work her heart out for it. I just had to hop on the bike and put a smile on my face.”
Despite his clear talent and ambitious nature, any racing sport can throw up hurdles at the most inopportune times.
“I had patience and resilience in spite of injuries, and luckily most of them weren’t too bad. But after the World Championships I had some really bad luck, with crashes that weren’t my fault. I ripped a ligament in one leg, and broke the other one. That meant missing the summer break, focusing on recovery and how I could come back. As an 18- or 19-year-old being forced to rest and recover on the couch, it’s not always that easy.”
Grant Wild, Managing Director of Wild Tech, said “Joel is incredibly talented and we were inspired by the journey he’s been on.”
“We couldn’t be more happy to support him and we’re confident his resilience and ability will take him far on this adventure.”
“I can say I’ve been unlucky, but I’m also lucky. Perspective is everything. You need to keep that positive mindset and be grateful for what you’ve got.”
That’s why support and sponsorship from Australian businesses like Wild-Tech means so much to Kelso.
“That’s in our culture as Australians, to help each other out.”
“All the companies who’ve jumped on board, even if it doesn’t seem massive, it’s every little thing adding up. Without you guys I couldn’t be out there. It’s ‘we’ on the scoreboard at the end of the day.”
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