He's a pretty typical nine-year-old about to enter fourth grade, but instead of riding skateboards or bikes with his friends, KJ Weston of Fort Lauderdale, Florida drives monster trucks. Kid KJ, as he is known in racing, competed in the mini-monster truck circuit this weekend at the Lake County Fair.
At just three years old, after seeing his first show, KJ decided he was going to race the trucks. Dad, Tod, had always enjoyed motor sports and studied to be a mechanic before becoming a business lawyer. He loved to tinker with muscle cars and got KJ a monster truck go-kart to further his son's interest. That didn't fly, according to KJ, "That wasn't a real one. I wanted a real one."
Tod got to work on building a replica of the real-deal, just half the size. KJ started racing when he was just five and a half in his truck named Monster Bear. "I do wheelies and donuts, racing, driving over cars and off ramps, just like the big trucks do," KJ said.
Kj's hobby became so big, his parents started Team Kid KJ, which now has four racers, and seems to be growing. "We have all this interest from kids and parents who want to get into this," said Tod.
Team Kid KJ competes in up to 80 shows a year. "It's a full-time hobby that keeps getting bigger and bigger." And, that's alongside mom, Nancy's, hobby. She too is a monster truck driver.
At the Lake County Fair KJ competed for points towards the Monster Truck Nationals, which consists of 15 to 18 different events, including this weekends. His competition includes his seven-year-old brother Jake, who drives Sir Crush a Lot, and friends Cassie, 14, and Morgan, 9, who drive Demolition Diva.
When asked if he ever got scared about being on the course, KJ replied with typical 9-year-old confidence, "I never knew anything different. I've been driving everything since I was young, so I don't know how to be scared."
The trucks only go up to 25 miles an hour. KJ's dad said he actually feels they are safe, considering the amount of protection the drivers wear including fire-proof suits and helmets. "It's like if you were packed into a box with packing peanuts and dropped from an inch off the ground. They are super safe," Tod said.
And while KJ is not even close to having a driver's license, he feels confident he knows what he's doing behind the wheel. "I have driven go-karts, power wheels, dirt bikes and four-wheelers, I know what I'm doing, even though this is more than just turning the key."
"It's really like going on the funnest roller coaster ride ever, and you are the driver," Tod said of how KJ describes it.