In the world of amateur motocross racing, there simply is no bigger event than the annual Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Motocross Championships. Held in mid-August near Hurricane Mills, Tennessee (about an hour west of Nashville) at Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch, the pinnacle of amateur racing has attracted the top talent in the sport for nearly 30 years. Getting to the Big Dance is not as easy as just paying the entry fee and lining up, though, as each and every one of the roughly 1400 riders on hand have gone through an extensive qualifying series at both the local and regional level to gain a coveted spot on the 42 rider starting gate at the Ranch. To put it another way – only the cream of the crop of amateur motocross racing make it here for the biggest race of the year, and a bigger stepping stone to the pro ranks does not exist in the world of motocross. Nearly every single top star in the modern history of the sport has “graduated” from the Loretta’s event, and with such a significant and drama-filled week of racing just completed last week in Tennessee, we’ll hit a few of the highlights for you (plus provide a list of champions and link to full results). Read on…
Every year, there’s a total of 33 new AMA National Championships handed out over 99 motos of racing and 5 days of general mayhem. It’s the center of the motocross universe for everyone from industry insiders and pro team riders and personnel to grandparents of young hopefuls who traveled down from the far corners of the country in pickups and sleep in tents all week. The actual feel of the event is more along the lines of summer camp than a big race, although with racing beginning at 7:30AM on the dot every morning it’s not hard to remember why everyone’s here. In the photo above, Matt Crown (who raced to an 8th overall in 40+) congratulates his son Joey, who managed two 2nd place overall finishes in the 65cc classes.
A family event through and through, a week at Camp Loretta’s is a highlight of the summer for many, but it’s an experience that’s always spiked with a healthy dose of pain and discomfort, too. If one thing can be counted upon to put a ‘damper’ on things, it’s the weather, and what that normally means is intense heat, high humidity and other-worldly thunderstorms that are almost unbelievable in their intensity. This year was no different. The entire state of Tennessee experienced record high temperatures for the entire week which, when considering how hot it’s been here in years past, is mind boggling. To walk around the track at the ranch has, in the past, literally felt like walking into a blast furnace. This year, it was worse. The heat index on Wednesday reached 116, which is way beyond “safe” in anyone’s book and for those riders who were able to put in consistent rides through each of their 3 motos, it was immediately clear who put in their homework and who didn’t. The rain came on Thursday, right about when things were really getting good, and as usual it added to the drama as the racing was cancelled for the afternoon and part of the morning on Friday.
Getting down to the details, let’s check out just a few of the top performers from the week. Kawasaki Team Green’s Jason Anderson (#82, above) walked away from the ranch with the most prestigious prize of them all – the AMA Horizon Award. Given out to the A class rider showing the “most promise” heading into the national-level professional ranks, the Horizon Award has been award to nearly every top pro motocross racer ever in the U.S. National Series. Anderson earned his by completely dominating the first two motos in each of his two classes (250A/ProSport and 450A) and, despite dismal 3rd moto finishes, he was still deemed most likely to succeed by the awards judges. So what exactly happened in his final motos? In 250A, his KX250F simply went kaput, leaving him the New Mexico native to push it from the track, totally dejected at literally throwing a championship away. This no doubt lit a fire beneath Anderson to really make a statement and put a hurt to the rest of the field in 450A, and to make a clean sweep of all 3 motos to earn the title. Almost unbelievably, a poor start and THREE crashes in the FIRST lap of the moto left him way, way back in the pack (roughly 35th) and, with just 20 minutes to play catchup, he had his work cut out for him. Anderson passed his fellow A riders in large groups, often 3 or 4 at a time, to eventually make it just barely far enough toward the front into 5th to clinch the title. Even that wasn’t a sure thing though, as Yamaha mounted Preston Tilford nearly took 5th back from Anderson at the line, leaving the title for Suzuki hotshoe Austin Howell who ended up winning the moto. Regardless, Anderson claimed the coveted #1 plate and moves on from his long’ish amateur career and into the pro ranks, possibly as early as Unadilla this weekend. Keep an eye on Anderson in the pro ranks, as he may make an impact as big as Dean Wilson did this year – he’s that good. It is unfortunate that Anderson didn’t get to face off against any of the Suzuki amateur stars, though…
…speaking of which, another outstanding performance by an A/ProSport rider was the week of racing put in by Rockstar/Suzuki amateur star Gannon Audette (#33 above). Audette, originally from the same neck of the woods as Ryan Dungey (Minnesota), has lived and trained in the heat of southern Georgia for a few years now, and his stamina proved to be a strong point all week long. Consistency and sheer speed were Audette’s keys to success, as he won 4 of his 6 motos in 250A and 450A/ProSport, getting beaten only by teammate Ian Trettel (twice) in 250A where Trettel won the title. Both of those Suzuki stars, along with Austin Howell, should be in the mix very soon in this summer’s Lucas Oils/AMA Pro Motocross Nationals but just exactly when is the big question. As of press time, only Howell was confirmed to be headed to New York, and he’ll be aboard a Rockstar/Canidae Suzuki RMZ450. There was a bit of controversy about the choice for the Horizon Award and how it wasn’t awarded to either Audette or Trettel. The consensus was, though, that Anderson’s miraculous final moto charge coupled with a thus far nearly perfect week of racing was what clinched it for the Kawasaki rider. Regardless, it will be fun to watch these four top guns on the track together as they search for their racing legs in the pro ranks in the upcoming weeks.
When speaking of perfection, though, one need look no further than Team Green rider Justin Bogle. The only rider out of the 1400 or so on hand to win every single moto that he (or she) entered, Bogle went a perfect 6 for 6 in 250B Mod and 450B Stock, joining an elite few to ever pull off such a feat. What’s even more remarkable about this is that Bogle, despite getting top level support for the last few years, is a relative unknown outside the world of national-level amateur racing circles. Long though to have the talent to pull off great rides, up until this performance in Tennessee, Bogle’s been hit or miss at best at the top amateur races. Being teammates with such superfast riders like Malcolm Stewart and Dean Wilson on the Xtreme Team Green/Canidae team for a couple years certainly didn’t hurt the Oklahoman get his speed up to par though, nor did being able to practice with fellow Okie Trey Canard and others on a regular basis. Bogle pulled it all together this year, that much is for sure, and he’s now without a doubt the hottest property heading up into the A class next year. Typically this is when one could ask “with such a dominant B class performance, shouldn’t he have been racing A already?” The answer is, at least according to laptimes throughout the week, is no. While certainly the fastest B rider of the week, Justin’s laptimes were well behind that of the top A riders like Audette and Anderson. Look for an interview with Bogle later this week right here on GrindTV.
The above photo illustrates a few things for us: 1) The famous, flat, fast left hander at the ranch is always groomed to perfection between motos, and disced deep to attempt and minimize the speed at which the racers hit the first turn (read: safer). 2) Justin Bogle (#91) didn’t need to nail a huge holeshot to outclass the rest of the B riders he was up against, namely Austin Politelli (#98), and Bogen Cochran (#50), who both finished top 3 in a couple of motos against him. One of the original goals for the Loretta Lynn’s nationals since it’s inception was to level the playing field as much as possible. This meant the track was to be used only once per year, and the starting gate/first turn area was to be as evenly matched from outside to inside as possible. This year, holeshots were nailed from nearly every point on the gate and first turn crashes were minimized, proving that the concept first conceived by the late Dave Coombs, Sr. and then Kawasaki Team Green manager Dave Johnson was a sound one.
Dropping down to the minicycle ranks, the top rider of the week was (arguably) Cooper Webb. One of very few top amateurs to race the 4-stroke Honda CRF150R in the Supermini classes, Webb’s made a name for himself on the machine and continued his winning ways at Loretta’s. Joining up with Joe Gibbs Racing (and pitting out of their rig for the week), Webb was impressive all week, coming from up front and from behind to win 3 of his 6 motos and beating or battling with all of the top mini riders in the nation. The word on the street is that he also did this on exactly ONE engine, which is all the more impressive considering that most of his competitors were swapping motors left and right in an effort to keep the Honda rider in sight.
Absolutely the most-hyped mini rider since… well, probably ever (save Mike Alessi), Florida’s Adam Cianciarulo has been a superstar in the sport for years – and he’s still only 13! Adam’s always made a point of racing in a class above what he could (or should?) be racing in, and this year he chose to race only a Supermini, forgoing any time in the 85cc classes at all. What exactly went wrong with AC’s week at the ranch can really only be answered by him, but speculation to his poor showing went from several blown motors to putting the wrong engine in the wrong bike at the wrong time, to him simply folding under the pressure of superior competitors. Adam had enough trouble in his first few motos that he completely packed-up and left by Friday morning’s racing, which was a very surprising move that’s yet unexplained: Did he leave because he didn’t have the pace? Was it the bikes that didn’t seem to want to keep together? Who knows, but it’s certainly a week that Adam, Team Green and Pro Circuit would rather forget.
Another one of the few riders able to pull off a clean sweep of the motos in at least one of their classes was Oregon’s Chris Alldredge. One of the best 85cc riders in the country for the past couple of years, Alldredge was perfect in 85cc 14-15 Stock, beating such notables as Team Green’s Chase Bell, Suzuki-mounted Jordon Smith and Mod-class winner Steven Gretchen. He also nailed the victory at this past winter’s US Open of SX in Vegas, which is quite an accomplishment on it’s own, considering he beat Cianciarulo and a host of other top riders in the process. Keep a close eye on Chris Alldredge in the future, he’s running the same path as Matt Bisceglia did before him, and that’s cleaning up on his YZ85′s.
That about does it for our roundup of this year’s Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Motocross Championship. Not everything can be reported on, but we picked out a few of the highlights that, to us, looked to be significant. There’s always more stories, always more drama, and there’s a whole lot more great racing than we’ve provided here, so be sure to check out the links below for some other excellent coverage, including video, photos, interviews and blow-by-blow coverage of the biggest little race in the world.
2010 Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Champions
250 A / Pro Sport
450 A / Pro Sport
250 B Stock
250 B Mod
450 B Stock
450 B Mod
250 C Stock
250 C Mod
Collegeboy B/C (17-24)
Vet B/C 30+
Matt Tedder Sr.
51 (4-6) Stock Multi Spd
51 (4-6) Stock Shaft Drv
51 (4-6) AMA 1 Stock
51 (7-8) AMA 2 Stock
65 (7-9) Stock
65 (10-11) Stock
65 (7-11) Modified
85 (9-11) Stock
85 (9-11) Modified
85 (12-14) Stock
85 (12-14) Modified
Super Mini 1 (12-15)
Super Mini 2 (13-16)
Schoolboy 1 (12-16) B/C
Schoolboy 2 (13-16) B/C
Great starting point for general coverage:
Great high-quality day-by-day video coverage: