Young Racers Charlotte Kainz & Kyle McGrane Tragically Killed at Santa Rosa Mile
It's with heavy hearts that we have to report on the passing of two young racers who lost their lives in the AMA Pro Racing Flat Track season finale last weekend. Hemingway famously said that the only real sports are bull fighting, mountain climbing and racing, because you compete not just with your fellow man, but with death itself; everything else is just a game. At the Flat Track race in Santa Rosa, CA this past weekend riders Charlotte Kainz aged 20, and Kyle McGrane aged 17, died in separate unrelated incidents.
Charlotte and her family are from Milwaukee, WI, where flat track is extremely popular, being the home of Harley-Davidson after all. Before she was even in kindergarten her father had taught here how to ride a motorcycle, and by age five she was racing a Yamaha PW50. By the time she was ten she had won the 50cc championship, followed by the 65cc title two years later. At 15 years old she was racing and winning on 85cc bikes in national events, plus adding supermoto and other disciplines to her skills.
Look around online and you will find pictures of her road racing, ice racing, vintage racing, TT racing, and of course flat track. At the Peoria TT in 2015 she crashed, fracturing her nose and cheek bone, bruising ribs, and getting a concussion, but managed to be back on a bike 5 weeks later. For the Kainz family, this is just another dark day in a year full of sad events. It turns out, her mother had died suddenly this spring, but even that tragedy didn't seem to slow her down on the track. She took the guys on at their own game and she was beating them.
Charlotte crashed after tangling with another rider in Turn 2 at the start of the heat race. The other rider was also taken to the hospital, but no report was given of his injuries. A GoFund Me campaign has been started by a family friend to help her father (and crew chief) with expenses: Helping Kainz and McGrane Fund
Kyle McGrane was just 17 years old and competing on a Kawasaki 650 Twin in his first full year in the GN2 professional ranks. Kyle was from Lancaster County, PA, also a huge hotbed of dirt oval racing of all kinds, and not far from the York factory where Harley also builds bikes. Kyle started even earlier than Charlotte, learning to ride by age three and racing by the time he was four years old. He also enjoyed ice racing, road racing, supermoto, and just about anything else on two wheels. His accomplishments includes 20 amateur national races, several amateur Grand National titles, 12 District titles in his class, and finished his first season of GNC2 in the top 25, despite only racing half the events.
Kyle's accident happened coming out of the last corner, in the last lap of his main event. His stepbrother who is a former racer, Tommy Grane Jr, said it did not look like that serious of an accident, and the family was shocked when they got a call from the doctors. Tommy Grane Jr was quoted as saying he had walked away from worse looking accidents, and called his step brother's death a freak accident. There is also a fund set up by a family friend to help cover the costs associated with travel and the funeral: Memorial Fund for Kyle McGrane 99A
While motorcycle racing is dangerous, as this past weekend reminded us, it is not often deadly these days. Modern rider safety gear, and safer tracks have reduced the risk involved from the days when you would expect several racers to get seriously injured over the course of each season. Not including these two deaths, there have been five other since 2000 in the AMA Pro Racing series. The AMA has said they will meet with the track, promoters, and the EMTs that were on duty to be certain everything was done to keep the riders safe, and see if anything further can be done.