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South Berwick teen kickin’ up dust as rookie racer

Kyle Bent, 14, continues to rise closer to the top of the standings during his first season competing at the Valley Raceway’s dirt track in Melvern Square.
Kyle Bent, 14, continues to rise closer to the top of the standings during his first season competing at the Valley Raceway’s dirt track in Melvern Square.

SOUTH BERWICK - Kyle Bent is showing his competition at Valley Raceway that age is only a number.

The 14-year-old South Berwick resident is third in the standings eight races into his first season at the dirt racetrack in Melvern Square. He’s the youngest driver at the track, but is already proving to be one to watch while racing his blue, Chevy Cavalier in the four-cylinder class.

“The first race I did I was getting lapped, and the last race I did I was lapping people,” said Kyle.

He turned to James Graves, former sportsman car racer at the paved Scotia Speedworld track in Enfield, for tips early in the season.

“He helped quite a bit,” the Grade 9 Central Kings Rural High School student said.

“Before I was going wide open into the corners and… if you take the corners slower, you get more momentum going.”

He admits he may have learned to ease up on the gas heading into a corner the hard way after rolling four times in his first race.

He didn’t miss a race following the flip, but his father, John Bent, is sure his own heart may have skipped a few beats when he was watching from the sidelines.

It’s not uncommon for the four-cylinder stock cars to slide and connect as 16 racers circle the Valley Raceway in pursuit of a first-place finish.

“When he rolled it over, I ran out on the track and said, ‘Are you alright?’ He looked at me and said, ‘That was fun, Dad,’” Bent recalled.

It’s not uncommon for the light, four-cylinder cars to slide and connect in some capacity as 16 drivers race to the finish line clocked at roughly 90 km/h on a dirt track. Bent gets nervous every time his son lines up for the start of a race.

“You get butterflies,” he said, noting that Kyle had to prove himself as a driver before being approved to compete at Valley Raceway.

“He’s avoided a lot of accidents. There was a car sideways in front of him one time and he got around it. There was a car on the hood of his, and he got out from underneath of it. He stays calm.”

Kyle first got behind the wheel of a car at the age of seven. He asked his grandfather if he could drive, thinking he’d be able to sit on his lap and steer, but his grandfather actually switched seats with him.

“I’ve always liked it since I was little. My Dad used to do the off-road racing,” Kyle recalled.

He spent the winter preparing his car for the race season, and worked at his father’s business, John’s Tire Service & Sales, to pay for the parts and maintenance required. It’s not a cheap hobby, with the repair jobs often involving axle replacements or transmission work, but the aspiring heavy-duty mechanic loves spending time at the garage.

“It keeps him off the streets. He could be doing a lot worse than driving a car around in circles,” his father says.

Grandmother Heather Bent can hardly wait to see Kyle in action again in between races.

“It draws a real, big crowd. I call it kickin’ up dust,” she said, noting that she’s proud of her mild-mannered grandson for working to pay his own way in the sport and being a respectful competitor.

“It’s fun-packed action… I’m the best cheerleader there, trust me.”

Kyle went into the race series thinking he’d finish in last or maybe second-to-last place when the series concluded. He’s thrilled things didn’t quite pan out that way, and hopes to have a first-place finish under his belt before the season ends.

“I haven’t got first-place yet, but I came close. The car ahead of me was half a car-length ahead,” he said.

The next round of races at Valley Raceway are slated to run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24. A day pass costs $12, but children aged 12 and under get in for free.


To learn more about the Valley Raceway’s dirt track on the Vault Road extension in Melvern Square, visit


Kyle Bent’s stepmother’s old Chevy Cavalier didn’t have a dent on it – until he rolled it four times in his first race.

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