Trent McInlay spent months wondering whether he would ever walk again.

The horrific motocross accident in late 2014 which shattered a vertebrae threatened to end a promising career in the sport.

On Sunday, the 19-year-old was back in action and left all-comers in his wake as he tore up the track at Landguard's Bluff. He is leading his class in the Harvey Round Motors Isuzu winter motocross series this season in his comeback series - a remarkable achievement given the severity of his injuries.


His spinal cord was not severed but a vertebrae was shattered and Trent now has a faint scar on his neck where a metal plate was inserted.

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There is also a scar on his right hip where some bone was removed for grafting into the top of his spine.

"I spent three months in the spinal unit and started out flat on my back before they gradually started tilting my bed until I was upright."

As well as getting back on to the race track, Trent now works as a roofer and also does a bit of plumbing in Palmerston North.

"My tool belt sometimes slides down on my right side where the bone was removed," he says.

He was not the only McInlay burning up the track on Sunday - dad Grant was also racing and leading in his veteran class.

Father and son were racing the same bike - Grant's 250 four-stroke and Trent's two-stroke bike was ready as a back-up if needed.

Trent's partner Hannah Brittin, his mum Jo and his younger brother Drew were at the track to lend their support and Jo says she does get anxious watching her son race.

"I sometimes feel quite nauseous when I watch him race but I have to be here - I'd worry more if I couldn't see him."

Jo and Grant took turns to be at Christchurch's Burwood Spinal Unit while Trent was recovering and she says it has been important for him to get back into motocross.

"The staff at Burwood encouraged him to get back to riding because it is known that people who have injuries like Trent's make better progress if they aim to do the things they love most."

While Trent was in the Burwood unit, Jo met other patients who had suffered debilitating injuries from simple actions like bouncing on a bed or missing a step.

"You realise that you can't eliminate risk from your life," says Jo.

Trent says that nerve damage is now the most evident reminder of his accident and he does not feel changes in temperature like he used to.

"I know it is cold but I can't really feel how cold and sometimes I run the tap water too hot and don't realise until my hands turn red."

His ability to race motorcycles seems to be back to peak form now and he is ready to compete and win the final round of the winter series next month.