GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — It’s unusual enough that this motorcycle racer has a decade-long career going — yet is only 14 years old. And that’s not the only thing unusual about Kayla Yaakov.
“It’s a male-dominated sport,” Yaakov, a freshman at Gettysburg Area High School, said. And that’s an understatement.
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She’s the only girl planning to race the entire MotoAmerica Junior Cup schedule, beginning with a race at Road Atlanta April 22-24.
But although she understands the focus on her gender, arguably what distinguishes her most is just how good the 14-year-old is for her age — for anyone of any gender.
In 2021, she placed eighth for the season, out of 34 entrants, despite missing the first six races. No one who missed as many races placed higher than she did. She improved throughout her shortened season, placing second in a race in September in Birmingham, Alabama, and becoming the first female to place that high in a MotoAmerica race.
“When we’re on the track, everything goes,” she said. “I’m not going to pass anyone differently than they’re going to pass me. So we’re all competitors, and we’re all trying to win.”
As for the decade-long career — not a typo — at 14 years old?
Her dad, Dave Yaakov, raced for 15 years. “So I asked him, ‘Can I try it?,'” she recounted “And he was like, ‘I mean, if that’s what you want to do, yeah, sure.'” She says she was about three or four when she starting learning to race on dirt tracks.
That’s not to say she never felt discouraged along the way. But “at the end of the  season, I definitely proved to myself that I am meant to be here and I am meant to be up front.”
“And I think that if I continue on my path of getting stronger,” she added, “and, you know, improving each each week and each time I go out, try to get a little bit better — I think I’m on the right track.”