A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Boone County teen Eli Banish makes mark on motorcycle racing world at home and abroad

By Hannah Walters
Special to NKyTribune

Eli Banish is thirteen years old, going on twenty-five.

The Boone County teenager has been racing since he was five years old; Eli’s unparalleled spunk and commitment has landed him a career before stepping foot into high school. As one of the youngest people to participate in motorcycle racing, Banish is one of a kind. He has raced everywhere from Florida to Italy.

Eli Banish (Photo/Facebook)

Despite having a career and attending elementary and now Ballyshannon Middle School, at the same time, Banish is still able to keep a healthy balance. Banish commented on his prioritization of school when discussing his schedule. He admits it can be overwhelming, but the speed and adrenaline are what make it all worthwhile.

“When I get home, homework comes first, then I go to my basement and work out for thirty minutes to an hour,” Banish said. “When we [his family] have to miss school to race over a weekend, I always make sure to get my work done when I am gone.”

Banish looks up to professional motorcycle racer Nicky Hayden, otherwise known as the Kentucky Kid, who passed away is 2017 after being hit by a car in Italy while riding his bicycle. Similar to Eli, Hayden had raced since he could walk

Hayden’s legendary, determined spirit inspires Eli to not give up.

“When I get down,” Banish said, “I tell myself why I started and repeat that.” Of all people, he would know that hard work pays off.

Banish was asked what advice he would give to an even younger aspiring racer.

“Just remember where you came from, that’s the biggest motivation you can get,” he said.

Not only does Banish excel in racing, but he excels in school as well.

(Photo by Michael Hallam)

“He’s one of the most polite and respectful kids I’ve ever been around,” said his teacher, Steven Wheeler.

Erika Bowles, Ballyshannon’s principal, also expressed her excitement that he is now a part of their school.

When Banish was racing in the United Kingdom, he was interviewed about Flat Track racing, where he got his start.

“Flat Track is huge in the U.S., that’s how a lot of kids get started,” he said.

Plans are far along in the process for committing to more races overseas, which Banish is looking forward to. Recently, he earned a spot on the Honda British Talent Cup grid for 2022. The Honda British Talent Cup is a ten-round, twenty-race tournament for racers between the ages of 12 and 17. The championship will receive international coverage and be seen on a myriad of live national television broadcasts.

There are downsides to racing so young, but Banish handles these downsides like a trooper. Whether it’s shattering his orbital bone or losing motivation, he always keeps the sportsmanship mindset.

That mindset is what made him successful as one of the youngest racers. Banish recently won the American Motorcycle Association Road Racing Grand Championship Moto 3 Expert class, and he is just getting started.

Talks are in the works for collaboration between Banish and Thorneycroft Racing to race overseas.

“Eli has extreme determination to better himself, and his ability to soak up information and take it right to the track,” says Mark Junge, Banish’s rider coach and former professional road racer.

Hannah Walters is a student at Ignite Institute

See Eli Banish’s Facebook page here.

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One Comment

  1. Jeff Taylor says:

    Awesome to see some local representation on the bigger stages of motorcycle road racing!

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