Proud dad, Greg Hancock, a four-time speedway world champion, says Wilbur is following his dreams
By Bill Kresnak
Wilbur “Will” Hancock, the 15-year-old son of four-time FIM Speedway World Champion Greg Hancock, recently clinched one speedway championship and hopes to earn another by the end of the year.
Hancock won the AMA Youth 250cc National No. 1 plate Aug. 29 during the 2020 Kelley Wagner AMA Speedway Youth National Championship at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn, Calif. Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway hosted the event.
The competition was fierce, but Hancock said he felt confident going into the event.
“My mechanic, Jake Isaac, and I spent 20-plus hours working on the bike in preparation for the weekend,” he said. “Mentally, I was prepared, and I had been training. I was ready.”
Some of Hancock’s competitors had just started racing. Others were, as he put it, “hometown heroes.”
“It was genuinely tough racing,” Hancock said. “In some of the heats, you could throw a blanket over us. It was a real challenge.”
Race officials said Hancock had a “nearly perfect night,” winning all of his heat races and dropping just one point to Alex Martin, 13, in the second semi-final. Hancock and Martin transferred to the main event along with semi-final one winner Slater Lightcap and Charlie Trana.
In the final, Hancock took an early lead and was able to hold off Martin for the win. Hancock finished with 17 points, and Martin was second with 16. Trana took third in the final and earned 11 points overall for third in the championship. Lightcap was fourth in the final and fourth in the championship.
Hancock, a freshman at Costa Mesa High School in Costa Mesa, Calif., said winning the championship “feels unbelievable. But this is just the first thing on the list. You need to be the best in the nation to get to the next level.”
Hancock plans to defend his long-track title on Nov. 14 at the AMA Youth 250cc Speedway Long Track National Championship at Perris Speedway in Perris, Calif., and then make his adult 500cc debut in December.
Hancock’s father, Greg, is the 1997, 2011, 2014 and 2016 FIM Speedway World Champion, and an eight-time AMA National Speedway champ. He won the 1992 FIM World Pairs title, as well as top honors in the 1992, 1993 and 1998 FIM World Team Cup. He retired from competition this year.
“I am a very proud dad and so happy for Wilbur,” Greg said. “He’s such a great kid, works hard and has speedway in his blood, for sure. He’s been following me around the international circuit from the womb, so it’s so satisfying to see him follow his dreams.
“This is something that he has wanted from day one and is already planning his 2021 season,” he added. “Both his mom and I are so pleased for him.”
Wilbur got interested in racing at a young age because, “I had been watching my dad race professionally in Europe since I was 5 weeks old,” he said. “The smell, the adrenaline, the rush, I loved it.”
Hancock started racing at age 7 aboard a Yamaha PW50. His first race was at Industry Speedway in City of Industry, Calif., in the Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational in 2012. He finished third.
Hancock said he likes “learning to ride more difficult tracks and trying new things, meeting new people, going crazy speeds. And winning just makes it even better.”
What would fans be surprised to learn about him?
“I am 50 percent Swedish and 50 percent American,” he says. “I race for the USA, though.”
In fact, Hancock was born in Sweden.
“I would like to thank all my sponsors, fans, friends, family and everyone who helped get me to where I am today,” Hancock said. “I am so grateful to have everyone giving me these opportunities to show what I am capable of.”