‘This is what the Lord made me for’ — motocross champion Trey Canard
However, the toughness and quiet confidence of the 5-foot-6, 150-pound Canard shine through as he reflects on his motorcycle racing career and the long list of injuries he has overcome.
“Yeah, I’ve broken my wrists four times,” said the 20-year-old professional motocross racer, the reigning national champion in the sport’s 250 class of smaller cycles. “I’ve broken my collarbone twice. I’ve broken my femur.”
That’s not to mention nagging little injuries involving fingers and toes, ankle sprains and “stuff of that sort.”
Given all the painful spills, what keeps him climbing back on the bike?
Must be the thrills, right?
Yeah, that’s part of it.
But for Canard, the passion to race goes deeper than that.
“I believe this is what the Lord made me for,” he told The Christian Chronicle. “This is my talent. This is my ministry, I believe, so that gives me hope. And I just really enjoy it. The good stuff outweighs the bad stuff for me.”
CHURCH FEELS THE NEED FOR SPEED
When Canard achieved his most superb feat on wheels last fall, fellow members of the Central Church of Christ — many of whom have fallen in love with the Speed channel — cheered at the top of their lungs.
“Amazingly, Trey won five of the final seven races of the season to overcome a 57-point deficit to win his first career motocross championship,” said Robert Prater, pulpit minister of the Central church, a 250-member congregation about 35 miles east of Oklahoma City.
“But more than being a great rider, Trey always gives glory to God and has such a strong faith,” Prater added. “He is a great role model for young people from all around the world.”
Apparently, he’s a role model for older people, too.
“I get these older women — 70 and 80 years old — and they’re telling me that they’re watching me ride a motorcycle,” said Canard, who leads singing, reads Scriptures and helps with the youth group at the Central church. “It’s kind of funny.”
PASSION OF HIS FATHER
As a new season of indoor and outdoor racing begins, Canard will again spend about 30 Saturdays on the road from January through September.
This year, he’s moving up to a bigger class of bikes. He’ll ride a Honda CRF450.
Raised in western Oklahoma, he started racing at age 3 when his late father, Roy Canard, built him a tiny, single-speed cycle that topped out at 20 mph.
By age 9, Trey signed his first racing contract.
“Then it kind of got a little more serious,” he said with a laugh. “It’s funny how quickly we kind of have to become professionals.”
For the first 18 years of his life, Canard and his family lived in Elk City, Okla., where they attended the Second and Adams Church of Christ. “That will always kind of be my home congregation,” he said.
Roy Canard, a motocross fanatic, died in a tragic accident when Trey was 12. Trey’s father was using a front-end loader to clear rocks from a small track where Trey and his older brother Aaron, now 24, practiced. The family doesn’t know exactly what happened, but Trey’s mother, Kari Canard, found the tractor upside down on her husband.
“My dad was a huge part of my racing. He got me riding,” Trey said. “It was his passion, and he kind of passed it on to myself and my brother.
“He was just a great man, a strong Christian man, and really my inspiration to be a strong character for Christ. … It’s unfortunate that I lost him when I was a young kid. … When I feel down or sad about that, I’ve just got to remember that God knows what he’s doing.”
HEART OF A CHAMPION
Focus. Heart. Effort. Fun. Dedication. Put them all together and they equal this: Success.
That’s the message on a whiteboard in a large metal building on the rural property near Shawnee where Canard lives with his mother and younger brother, Jaxon, 9.
At the end of a gravel road but just a few miles from Interstate 40, this is where Canard hangs out in the offseason. Here, trophies and motorcycles, including the tiny one that his father made him, mix with weight equipment that the motocross champion uses to keep in shape.
Two years ago, Canard used his own cash to buy this property, which includes a house and an outdoor practice track.
“I’m making a decent living,” he said. “I’m thankful for that, and I know that’s a blessing. I try to give back any way that I can.”
Said Prater, the Central minister: “Kari and Trey are very generous givers and always are willing to help out those in need.”
The Canards didn’t want to leave Elk City, but it was a two-hour drive to Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.
Since he flies nearly every week, Canard wanted to be closer. Shawnee, a city of about 30,000, is roughly 45 minutes from the airport.
What he didn’t know when he moved to Shawnee, Canard said, was what a terrific congregation he’d stumble upon.
He didn’t go out of his way to tell Central members about his profession, but word spread.
“I normally don’t like to talk about it too much at the congregation. I kind of like to stay to my worship, you know, the reason we’re there,” he said. “But people ask me what’s my job and am I in school, and it kind of came up like that.
“So it’s just a neat thing, and I feel like it’s been a blessing in my life, and it’s brought me really close to a lot of great people in our congregation. I think everyone’s enjoyed it, so it’s been fun.”
The church also has embraced Trey’s mother and brother Jaxon, who’s active in the Leadership Training for Christ program.
“We’re not anything special, I don’t think,” Kari Canard said. “It’s funny because no matter where we seem to live, people young and old get pretty excited about motocross.
“I’ve signed up so many people for the Speed channel that I should be getting a kickback on it,” she joked.
THE COOL CHRISTIAN LIFE
Scriptural references on his crossbar pad help Canard maintain his Christian focus.
Verses such as Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”) provide inspiration and motivation.
In his podium speeches, Canard — whose cycle is No. 41, like his dad’s — always gives God the credit for his success.
“A lot of people think of motocross and motorcycle riders, and they’re associated with tattoos and drinking and partying and all that stuff,” Canard said. “So I think anything I can do … is hopefully well-accepted and good.
“Christianity, especially in the Church of Christ, gets a label of being kind of boring or not cool, just all these rules. I just hope my story kind of shows teens and people in general that … you can use your talents to glorify God.”
Given the hard knocks of a sport where age 35 is considered ancient, the Oklahoma church member knows his racing career won’t last forever.
When he stops revving his motor, though, he has an inkling what he’d like to do.
“I’d like to be a youth minister or just work in a church,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed a lot of the youth ministers I’ve had and people who were really crucial to my Christian walk. And I feel like I could be an asset someday in the church.”