What began as a hobby for 14-year-old Ralph Croft has contributed to his aspiration to become a professional motorbike racer with a dream to ride circuits across the country.
Experiencing quadbike and motorbike rides with his dad led to his exploration of solo riding, which started off on a 50cc bike with speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Now, the young sportsman rides a Kawasaki Ninja 300, the largest engine acceptable within his class, with top speeds of 120 miles per hour logged at various tracks.
"I love the thrill of riding at the speeds I do now. Motorbike racing is a much more unique sport compared to anything else, so I have found that when I shared my story about motorbike racing, I stood out" Ralph said.
He continued: "It’s very nerve-wracking for my mum to see me on the track, but she’s one of my best supporters. My whole family and friends have been hugely supportive. When they’re happy, I’m happy."
Ralph has competed in several motorcycle racing tournaments that have presented opportunities across the country, including at Cadwell Park Circuit in Lincolnshire, which many racing professionals experience early in their sporting careers.
But when things don’t necessarily go as expected, Ralph’s attitude towards overcoming obstacles is admirable. He said: "Sometimes when I’m not achieving what I anticipate, I go and sit in the caravan and talk my frustrations through with my dad. He used to race and has experienced all the tracks I ride, so he knows it’s a hard thing to do, and once you have that barrier of things getting really difficult, you just have to sit down, relax, and overcome it."
Ralph is also grateful for the support he receives from his school, Brixham College. The College has helped wherever possible to ensure Ralph can compete in competitions as well as stay up to date with his studies and school experiences.
Ralph added: "The second Mr Townsend found out about the motorbike racing, he emailed every teacher in the school, and now everyone is aware of what I do. Having everyone cheer me on and say well done is a really lovely experience. I didn’t tell anyone at first about my racing, but now that many people know about it, the support is stronger than ever before."
Mark Eager, Principal at Brixham College, praised Ralph for his achievements, saying he is an inspiration to the whole school community. He said: "Ralph’s story is absolutely incredible. At Brixham College, we often talk about the talent our children have, but when you speak with Ralph about his passion for the sport and balance that with, quite frankly, how dangerous it could be, you are blown away by it all.
"Ralph is demonstrating to us the amazing things our young people can do. This story will positively impact the lives of so many within our College. Brixham is a coastal town with a very close-knit community, and part of our job is to ensure that young people can go on and grow and develop in a wider community across the country or even across the world. Being able to see people have that potential to achieve things and make a difference and what a young person can achieve is just fantastic and truly inspirational."
Steve Croft, Ralph’s dad, said the cost of the sport has increased over the years as his son’s successes have increased, but the family is thankful to the community for their support.
He said: "As Ralph grows, the bikes become a lot bigger and much more expensive, so the cost there really does ramp up. But we are very lucky here in Brixham to have some great support from local companies that have reached out and supported us in some way. Regardless of what people have been able to give to support Ralph as an inspiring local lad, it really does help. I’m so proud of how far he has come. I remember him first starting out with great big boots and a helmet, which made him look like a spaceman. But it’s a passion of his, so we will continue to support him with what’s next."
Anyone interested in following Ralph’s journey can do so by following his Facebook group “Ralph Croft Racing#49”.