Roadracing World started this exclusive special feature recognizing the most promising young road racers as an answer to pessimists who claimed America had no new, up-and-coming young racers. This edition of the Roadracing World Young Gun Awards marks the 26th consecutive year of showcasing an abundance of new talent.
Roadracing World Young Guns have won:
FIM MotoGP and FIM Superbike races and World Championships;
MotoAmerica and AMA Pro races and Championships, including 11 AMA Pro Superbike Championships;
A KTM RC Cup World Final race;
The Daytona 200 (11 times);
WERA National Endurance Championships and WERA National Challenge Championships;
ASRA/Formula USA Grand National and CCS National Championships;
AMA Road Racing Grand Championships and Horizon Awards;
USGPRU National Championships;
Many regional and local titles.
The competition has continually become more intense as more – and younger—racers with higher levels of accomplishment are nominated, and the level of achievement required to make the grade keeps getting tougher.
We’ve spent the last several months accepting nominations and evaluating road racers between the ages of 10 and 18 (as of the start of the 2022 season) who have, at a minimum, won Expert-level road races and/or Championships or had outstanding results as an Amateur/Novice. Most of the riders included here have done far more than the minimum.
The young riders recognized here are the most promising young road racers in North America. All have earned the title of Roadracing World Young Gun.
We will feature one Young Gun per day, presenting them in alphabetical order.
Aden Thao (a.k.a. Aden Nraug Hli Thao)
Current home: Fresno, California.
Current height/weight: 5’4”/150 pounds.
Current school grade level: Freshman in college.
Began riding at age: 15 years.
First road race: 2018, Willows, California, AFM, Clubman Lightweight, 8th place.
Current racebike: Kawasaki Ninja 400.
Current tuners/mechanics: Kris Daniels, Barry Russell.
Primary race series: MotoAmerica Junior Cup, AFM, CVMA, WERA.
Top sponsors: Calishine Racing, Calishine Import Production, AGVSport America, GoPro, LiquiMoly, Motorrev, 2 Wheels Track Days, Spears Racing, Creative Results – Vulkee Realty Team, HALO – Health And Life Organization (of Sacramento, CA), The Fresno Center, PhabEj Beverages, RISE Inc., Guardian Angels ADHC.
Recent racing accomplishments: 2021 season, won OR BRIC Superbike Championship Series Sport Production Junior Class race at Chang International Circuit in Thailand, placed 13th in MotoAmerica Junior Cup Championship (6 top-10 finishes), finished 2nd in three AFM class Championships (450 Superstock, Lightweight Twins, Formula III), won 35 club races in 2021; 2020 season, placed 12th in MotoAmerica Junior Cup Championship (five top-10 finishes), finished 2nd in two WERA West Sportsman Expert Class Championships (8 race wins), finished 8th in Kawasaki Road Racing Championship Ninja 400 race at Chang International Circuit, in Thailand; won two WERA Sportsman Novice National Championships (D Superstock, D Superbike), won AMA Lightweight Twins Superbike Novice Grand Championship, won WERA West Sportsman Formula Two Novice Championship (25 WERA race wins), finished in the top 3 in three AFM Novice Class Championships.
2021 racing goals: Finish in the top 5 in MotoAmerica Junior Cup Championship, return to race in Southeast Asia.
Racing career goal: To race internationally at the highest level possible.
Racing hero: Marc Marquez.
Favorite track: Thunderhill Raceway Park.
Favorite hobby: Freshwater bass fishing.
If I wasn’t racing I would be…: Fishing in a nearby lake or river.