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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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More Craziness: Child Killed as a Motorcycle Racer!

Again, what the heck is going on? We got 14-year-old girls trying to circle the globe alone in boats and now we have a dead 13-year-old boy who got killed motorcycle racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway! When I was a kid young teens rode bicycles but were not allowed to ride motorcycles. There is a big difference in weight and speed. A boy this age is probably only in seventh grade. Peter Lenz of Vancouver, Washington, fell off his bike and was run over by another motorcycle. The injuries were severe and he did not make it. We are told that he was “an accomplished rider.” Now come on, how can a 13-year-old boy be an accomplished anything… that is unless he is Mozart writing concertos at 5 years-of-age? By the way, composing music is not usually harmful to your health, motor vehicles frequently are.

Making matters even more bizarre, the rider who struck him was 12-year-old Xavier Zayat! Yes, you heard me right, a mere sixth grader! That is grammar school guys, come on! The news report says that it was not certain that the boy’s parents were even in town. As with the boat-girl, why would parents allow their kids to take such risks with their lives? These kids reach speeds as high as a hundred miles an hour! Is there a lot of money and fame involved? I am really scratching my head. Competing with riders from 12 to 18 we are told he was a rising star. Well, that star has certainly set now and on a boy who should have had his whole future ahead of him.

If you ask me, young teens should not be allowed to race motorcycles until they are old enough to have a regular driver’s license. Yes, I would shut this bizarre business down. The more we hear about this, the stranger things become. We are also told that he had been riding for six years… motorcycles! That means he started when he was only 7 years-old! Yes sir that is what I want to see coming down the highway towards me, a first grader on a Harley! Not!

Missed by a few strong critics of this post and advocates for such racing, here are words I shared in the comments section below:

I should add, my deepest condolences to his family. While I might not understand why children are allowed in such a sport, the tragedy here is real and painful. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace.

17 Responses

  1. You should do your research. In the 9 years that this particular organization has been in existence, Peter Lenz was the first death to occur. During that same time period over 125 children have died on non-motorized scooters. You call children racing motorcycles “reckless”, yet the facts dispute your claims.

    FATHER JOE: I have my view and I will stand by it. I hope that you remember your position as an apologist for child racing come the next time a child needlessly dies or gets seriously hurt in this so-called sport.

    Judge Pirro writes, “This was Peter’s return to racing following a massive crash just last season in Portland, from which he suffered four broken bones and a severed radial nerve, all of which required surgery. The Portland crash was not enough to illustrate to Peter’s parents the critical danger of the arena to which their son was inserted. Following the Portland crash even before he left hospital, they were discussing Peter’s next move on the race track.”

    A lot more kids ride regular bikes and scooters than on motorcycles, so any statistic must take this into consideration. Earlier videos of the boy showed him with pins in his leg and a sling on his arm. How many accidents have there been? How many growth plates have been broken? How many kids lived but were crippled or marked permanently? How many died racing motorcycles “outside” the “organization”? During 2008, 346 young motorcycle riders (age 15-20) were killed and an additional 8,000 were injured. Motorcycles are inherently very dangerous, both on the track and on the streets. I would reserve the honor of such risks to licensed drivers.

    I am closing this thread. It sickens me that people would defend such activities. It is true that children get hurt in many ways, but that does not make child racing legitimate. While numbers must include fatalities in practice and on dirt tracks, even one life sacrificed to this reckless activity is way too many. I was chastized as a priest for making these remarks; but, silence to sin should not be the posture of pastors. This boy’s death was senseless and unnecessary, not because I said so, but because it is the hard truth. I do not believe such activity is morally justifiable.


    [You copied and pasted the whole catechism – you are a spammer, pure and simple. Posted comment has been deleted.]

  3. [Now you are cutting and pasting conspiracy garabage about 9-11? Okay, enough is enough. You are hereby blocked from this site: philthefluter777]

  4. Father Joe, motorcycle racers wear the best in protective gear. To

    FATHER JOE: Even for adults, leather and a helmet can help but only so far. A mistake or accident or physical shortcoming at high speed is still very unforgiving. I am not an advocate against motorcycles. I just do not think it is prudent to allow or to encourage young children to ride them solo.

  5. The other day I was riding behind my son on our pushbikes. As we approached the laneway of our house on the other side of the road, I began to look back to see if it was safe to signal and start across the oncoming lane. At that instant a car flew past us both from behind. I had not heard a thing. Not a sound, nothing at all to warn me of its proximity. If my son had started to turn into the laneway ahead of me, he would have been killed. I have never been so shaken.

    Sadly, accidents happen. There is no age constraint on when they can occur. And how many innocent children on the “enemy” side have died as “collateral damage” in our vicious wars?

    I watched a video of Peter Lenz riding his motorcycle around Willow Springs Raceway. He displayed great skill and was clearly a talented rider whatever his age. His death was just an accident and needs to be accepted as that. It is terribly sad and my heart goes out to his parents in their loss but occassionally, tragically, accidents will happen.

    I have not stopped my son from riding his pushbike.

    FATHER JOE: Bikes can be fun. Children are supervised as they learn both how to ride and the basic safety rules of the road. Yes, even they can be dangerous. But it is a far cry from racing motorcycles at speeds of 120 miles an hour. I stand by my opinion… no driver’s license… no riding or driving motor-vehicles.

  6. Gozilla, (what an image)
    There is nothing in life that is 100% safe. Life has risks and we as thinking people take those risks into consideration when we chose to do something. Yes, riding a motorcycle at 100 MPH is riskier than walking down the sidewalk. Yet people are killed walking down the sidewalk, too. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live a life without any pleasures either. That is a worst way to die. Peter’s death was an accident, pure and simple.

  7. Father, I am glad that someone among the clergy is speaking out. Too often ministers are silent or passive collaborators by visiting the track and offering empty words to the crowds. If there were no fans then the money attached to such activities would dry up. I feel sorry for the parents who have crippled and dead children, but such compassion should not force us into silence. If children are racing, I refuse to go to the race or exhibition. You should see the waivers that the parents sign! No one wants to take any responsibility or blame should something go wrong.

    An 81 pound boy of 13 years of age is dead. I hope people will allow that fact to sink in, that and the absolute waste and lack of meaning in it all. He died for nothing consequential. He did not have to die.

    My word to other parents is simple, “Protect your children and let them be children instead of pretending to be adults.” Oh and one other thing, it is okay to say NO to children. They do not understand how fragile human life is. They think they are invincible. But we are not. It is not like the movies. Bones break and blood comes pouring out. Even those kids who survive injuries sometimes suffer from broken growth-plates or find themselves crippled. Racing might be fun, but it can also be deadly.

    I am scared about 16 year olds driving cars on the highway at 65-70 miles an hour. Here we have twelve and thirteen year olds doing almost twice that speed! I am so saddened by this latest tragedy that I want to throw up. In particular, I am ashamed of those who are still apologists for the sport and who attacked you. It demonstrates how blind and possessed some are regarding the kiddie “murder-cycles.”

    It is rationalized that the boy died doing something he loved. Even now no one will take responsibility for his death. It was just an accident, some say. He was following his dream, another person related on the message boards. He could have been given different joys and dreams to follow. We could have kept him safer. But it is too late now. Instead of learning a lesson from this, those kids and parents in the business seem even more recalcitrant in its defense. Maybe their boy or girl will be next? I hope not, but accidents do happen and mistakes are made. Children do not have an adult’s strength and balance. That does not seem to matter to those in charge, either. At $12,000 to $15,000 a bike, it is easy for the salesman to soothe his conscience. Then there are those who sell the helmets, boots, gloves and leather. They have an interest in keeping it going, too. Then there are the operators of the tracks. These bikes are not legal on the road so that have to practice and race somewhere. And then there are the fans, many whom are adults, living their thrills safely and vicariously through the children. The kids catch the bug and can’t stop. The motorcycles and the racing becomes like a drug. They are addicts. They love the excitement and competition. So what does it matter if there is an occasional accident or death? There are more kids where they came from. The race must go on! But, and this is a nagging question for me, why?

  8. Although it is often a matter of some debate, I suspect that most Catholic moralists would say that the taking of unnecessary risks by minors would constitute a violation of the Fifth Commandment (Thou shall not kill). It might also be viewed as tempting God and his providence. When Catholics prepare for the sacrament of penance, they are supposed to make an examination of conscience. The Catholic should ask himself, “Have I been careless or taken unnecessary risks that could result in harm to me or to others?”

    An example of such questioning can be found online at the BEGINNING CATHOLIC website.

    The universal catechism also speaks about it in passing:

    [CCC 2269] The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger…. Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone’s death, even without the intention to do so.

  9. I am 12 and race a 125GP bike. Actually, I ride it at trackdays… I don’t compete. Here is my motto, and I’m sure Peter would have agreed:

    “I refuse to tip-toe through life only to arrive safely at my death.”

    My heart goes out to the friends and family of Peter Lenz. Peter died doing what he loved. If he did not love what he did… he wouldn’t have been so [deleted] good. There are certain kids, like myself and Peter, who will live on the edge, whether or not out parents allow it. If it wasn’t a motorcycle he would be jumping his BMX. I also love skydiving and snowboarding. I can only imagine what you would say about me jumping out of an airplane or launching a 70 foot gap on a snowboard. It’s what I love to do, and I’m good at it. I was given a gift, and I’m glad my parents support me. RIP Peter.

    FATHER JOE: As you must know, I very much disagree with your assessment. You are on 12 years old? There are so many things you are too young to understand. Parents should appreciate these matters. Obviously, I could never give approbation to rebellion against protective parents in violation to the commandment. We were placed here for more than the thrill… so much more. I will keep you and all such children in my prayers for safety. That is all I can do.

  10. Fr. Joe, you should be giving words of sympathy and condolences without placing blame on the parents. You wrote a reply to me that there are workds of condolences, well they must be buried in you rant because I can’t find them.

    You call the poor child that hit him a “lousy sixth grader”. What a thing for a man of the cloth to say. You should be giving the young person who struck him some words of comfort, but you don’t. You are passing judgement that you have no right to do. You consider yourself a man of God, I don’t. A man of God goves comfort to the grieving and does not cause more grief to them.

    All of you people who are blaming the parents should be ashamed for causing more grief to the parents.

    By the way, I was there, you weren’t. I am a member of the family of racers, you are not. You have no right to pass judgement. We don’t.

    FATHER JOE: My condolences and prayers are mentioned among the comments. However, unlike you I have no invested interest in making sure that other children continue to risk their lives. I voiced my opinion and astonishment that such risks would be taken with children. If the expression, “lousy sixth grader” is too harsh, change it to “litte sixth grader,” the assessment is the same, neither of them should have been racing motorcycles. You tell me that I cannot pass judgment but you have not ceased passing judgment upon me. You want your say but would silence me and others critical of a sports industry that needlessly places young children at risk. You may be right about one thing, you and those involved with this mess do not pass judgment or seriously scrutinize what is being done. What are the benefits? Do they outweigh the dangers? Would it be so bad to wait until children are grown up before actively engaging in such activities? No, a self-critical eye and judgment is not being weighed, and that might precisely be the problem. God bless you and stay safe!

    Note: I changed the word, “lousy,” to “mere.”

  11. This is very much a current issue in the Philippines:

    SENATOR Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. welcomed the growing clamor for the expansion of the Republic Act 10054 or the Mandatory Helmet Law to address the life-threatening malpractice of allowing children to ride on motorcycles.

    “I re-filed my bill that would prohibit the riding of children seven years old and below on motorcycles. This is consistent with our advocacy to provide safety measures to all riders and passengers and avoid injury or fatality especially for children on motorcycles.”

    The Philippine National Police (PNP) is pushing for the expansion of the Mandatory Helmet Law to include the total ban on children, aged 10 years and below, from riding motorcycles even with protective gears or with adults.

    Cavite Chief Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco said allowing children to board motorcycles was “a clear case of child abuse since this is a circumstance which gravely threatens or endangers the survival and normal development of children.”

  12. You grew up loving god I’m sure at an age younger than twelve or thirteen. I grew up loving, riding, and racing motorcycles since age 3. If you can love god why can I not love motorcycles? You also want to shut down the youth motorcycle industry. Thank you for wishing to hurt the one part of my family’s business that is growing. I believe we should be allowed to do exactly as we please and you should not let your small mind close out something that you do not understand. I guarantee my kids will ride, and if they want to race they will. He had an Arai helmet and full leathers the rest was up to god.


    You have been racing motorcycles since age 3? It takes my breath away. I had no idea that such things were going on. As for business and money, well, I would give human life a higher priority. If you do not understand that, then nothing I write will make any sense to you.

    As a kid I recall a young man, over 18, flipping his motorcycle outside my family home. His best friend held him in his arms. The fellow was conscious and told his friend that his head hurt. His friend unstrapped and removed the helmit. His friend’s brains came out with it and he immediately died. Such things are hard to forget.

    Catholic children might love God, but they cannot receive the sacrament of penance or Holy Communion until second grade, to insure they have reached the age of reason. Eighth graders and older are confirmed. I believe in age-specific activities. In this country you can get a learners license at 16; you can get married at 18; and you can drink at 21. Such things are mandated by civil laws. It just seems to me that we need similar rules for children riding motor vehicles on private tracks and roadways.

    As a kid I loved race cars. I played with toy cars. I have friends who participated in the Soapbox Derby. We had bicycles, and these were often dangerous enough. Motorcycles take such perils to an entirely different level.

  13. My baby got crippled from an accident on his motorcycle. I should never have allowed him to do it. Don’t you shut up Fr. Joe, your words might make some parents wake up to the dangers and save some boys and now girls. I wish someone had spoken some sense into me. Now it is too late.

  14. it is sad that he died, but he did what he loved to do. I race motocross and started riding when i was 5. but evry time i race i have to sign a waiver that says that i may be criticaly injured or die. All of the racers know the risk of the sport, but we love the sport. And it is a risk i take to enjoy the best sport in the world. you guys can go hold hands and stay in your houses all day but it is up to the parents and riders to decide to race.

    FATHER JOE: You signed a waver when you were five-years-old? Such a child is not even at the recognized age of reason, let alone legal consent. Should parents decide who is old enough to drive on the public streets, too? No, if they are not old enough for a license, I feel they should not be riding raceway motorcycles either. Yes, if I had my way, such racing would be illegal for young minors.

  15. You call yourself a man of God? You should be hanging your head in shame for writing what you did. If the parents of Peter read what you have written you have caused them more grief. You should be writing condolences, not word of blame. You are NOt a man of God.

    FATHER JOE: If you look at the comments, you will see that I have added condolences and prayer. Silence is not the proper response. Some have written the same on the poor boy’s facebook page. However, I still think that allowing children to race motorcycles is reckless. Indeed, the Church teaches that it is wrong to engage in behavior where unnecessary risks to life are taken. Further, I would question the morality of both the industry around it and the fans who promote it. According to what I am reading on the Internet, many other people feel the same way. Minors must be protected by adults in society. Children cannot be allowed to do anything they want.

  16. I should add, my deepest condolences to his family. While I might not understand why children are allowed in such a sport, the tragedy here is real and painful. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace.

  17. How very sad this story is…I’m 40 minutes south of Indianapolis and I am the mother of a soon to be 13 year old, I’m glad to say the only risky thing she rides is her bike or scooter. Sad…but I believe Father that parents are living vicariously through their children’s accomplishments. Fame and fortune on earth is all that anyone thinks about. I choose to think of the fortune I hope that me and mine attain in heaven.

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