New Castle News

July 11, 2012

Riding High: Laurel student among top quad drivers in state

Joe Simon
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — It was every kid’s dream.

A garage full of Power Wheels, the motorized miniature cars that almost every child pleads with his parents to buy.

Joshua Altman had them all.

“When he was in diapers, I literally had all the Power Wheels you could get — every model,” his father Robert Pitzer, said.

It’s more than a decade later, but Altman hasn’t stopped riding. Although, nowadays his four-wheelers are a bit faster and more advanced than the battery-charged cars he rode around as a kid.

The 14-year-old Laurel High student is one of the top-ranked quad riders in the state, and he just started racing a little over a year ago. Altman, who uses his mother’s last name, has won nearly 30 times in the past two years and is coming off a season in the Competition Riders of America in which he finished first in the Junior Woodsman division, which consists of kids ages 15 to 17, making Altman the youngest of the group.

No problem. The young-but-talented freshman rides like veteran.

“I like tough courses,” Altman said. “It’s not just who has the fastest bike, it’s the rider with the most skill.”

Altman has plenty of it, and it’s not hard to see why. He got his first motorcycle, a 50cc Suzuki, at age 3. He rode it around the yard and, like most kids’ first experience on a bike, crashed and hit a tree or two.

“I remember that,” he said with a laugh.

He got back up and kept riding, and if you ask Pitzer, he hasn’t stopped since.

“We put him on the bike when he was so young, that it’s like an extension of his body,” he said. “It’s natural to him.”

So is winning, apparently.

Altman, who also plays football and baseball at Laurel, won 20 out of 30 races last year, by far the most in his division. He finished first in his division, beating out the second-place finisher by 251 points. Points are earned depending on a rider’s finish and how many people are in a race. First place garners the most points — as few as 10 and a maximum of 25 per race.

Altman, who was forced to move up a division after placing first last year, again was leading his classification this season — winning eight out of 15 races after moving up to the Woodsman Division because he finished first last year — before breaking the scaphoid bone in his wrist in early June. Even though he’s missed 11 races since the injury and again is the youngest of the bunch, he’s still second out of 96 people. He’s still recovering from the broken scaphoid bone but hopes to be back to defend his title at the Big Game track in Hubbard, Ohio. The race is one of the biggest on the schedule and consists of three different events: flat track, hare-scramble and motocross. Altman won all three last year and took home the grand prize — a 6-foot trophy. He’s motivated to defend that title.

“Most of the pros will be there,” said Altman when talking about the excitement of the race. “But for me, it’s the 6-foot trophy. And this race brings out your abilities with the different types of riding.”

Lucky for Altman, he’s good at all of them.

(Email: j_simon@ncnewsonline.com).