The 23rd Annual Air Nautiques/AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships finished up with 33 champions crowned at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, August 3-8. With more than 22,000 entries at the Area and Regional levels, the nationwide program was narrowed down to 1386 finalists, 42 per class, all of whom would compete in three 20-minute motos at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch to determine the 2004 champions. Near-perfect conditions greeted all 99 motos throughout the week, with the podium finishers in each moto receiving gold, silver and bronze medals from event organizers MX Sports. The big winners included Honda rider Mike Alessi who scored his 10th and 11th career titles at Loretta Lynn’s. This tied James Stewart’s all-time record just one week before Alessi begins his professional motocross career at the upcoming Spring Creek National at Millville, Minnesota, the ninth round of the 2004 AMA/Chevrolet Motocross Nationals.
Alessi, who will ride a Honda CRF450R in the 250cc class for his National debut, won the 250cc A and Four-Stroke Open classes at Loretta Lynn’s. He also claimed the prestigious AMA Horizon Award, which goes to the rider showing the most potential as he leaves the amateur ranks. Past winners have included James Stewart, Travis Pastrana, Davi Millsaps and Nick Wey.
Kansas Honda rider Thomas Hahn topped the 125cc A class with a 1-1-1 moto sweep as talk swirled around the teenager signing a professional contract with the Amsoil/Chaparral/Factory Connection Honda team for 2005 and beyond. In 125cc A Pro Sport, Kentucky’s Ryan Sipes topped Florida’s Matt Goerke in a battle of two young prospects who have already scored top-10 125cc National moto finishes.
Goerke, a Suzuki support rider, turned the tables on Team Green’s Sipes rebounding for a win in the 250cc/Open A Pro Sport division. The B-class winners were Florida’s Matt Boni (125cc B Stock), California’s Scott Simon (250cc B Stock), and New Jersey’s Jason Lawrence, who grabbed National titles in 125cc B and 250 B Modified racing aboard his Suzukis. Amateur motocross legend Kevin Walker topped a couple of old pros in the 25+ class, bettering Texan Charley Bogard and Arizona’s Shaun Kalos for his ninth career title. Then Walker returned for title number 10 in the Vet 30+ class, taking another 1-1-1 score to the podium ahead of the Team Green-backed Kalos and Florida’s Vince DeVane. As a result of his perfect week, the Yamaha-backed Walker was handed the AMA’s award for top Vet-class rider. DeVane, a former Suzuki factory rider, also finished second in the 35+ class, behind Michigan’s John Grewe, who went 2-1-1. Dag Boyesen finished third in that division. Tallahassee, Florida’s Earl May picked up his first Loretta Lynn’s title in 40+ Senior-class racing, and California’s Matt Tedder, a father of five racing boys, scored the National Championship in 45+ Senior racing with 1-3-2 moto finishes.
In the Women’s class, defending champion Sarah Whitmore had to pull out before Monday’s practice. That opened the door for Honda-mounted Tarah Gieger, a rising star in the Women’s Motocross Association, to claim her first Loretta Lynn’s championship. Ashley Fiolek, the winner of the Women’s 9-13 division, was handed the AMA’s Youth Horizon Award ahead of all the boys after her solid 1-1-1 performance. (Miss Fiolek is hearing-impaired.)
Washington Yamaha rider Josh Hill scored two titles and four out of six possible moto wins in 125 Schoolboy racing.
KTM rider Zach Osbourne of Virginia topped the 85cc (14-15) Modified class title, while Texan Matthew Lemoine was the big winner in 105cc (12-15) Supermini racing. Suzuki’s Nico Izzi won the 85cc (12-13) Modified class over Oklahoma’s Trey Canard and South Carolina’s P.J. Larsen, then he came back to lead the Stock version of the class ahead of Canard and Texan Blake Wharton. North Carolina’s Ian Trettel topped Colorado’s Eli Tomac in the 85cc Modified (7-11) class, winning all three motos. Trettel was also perfect in the Stock class, taking the title over New Mexico’s Jason Anderson.
The Suzuki-mounted Tomac returned to take the 65cc Stock (10-11) division, while Ohio’s Shawn Rife won the 65cc (7-11) Modified class. Wisconsin’s Kody Kamm won the 65cc Stock (7-9) classes.
In junior minicycle racing, the class champions were North Carolina’s Tyler McSwain (51cc Stock 7-8), California’s Blake Green (51cc Stock 4-6), and South Carolina’s Taylor Barnett (51cc Shaft-Drive).
Finally, with six class titles, California picked up the “state championship” award for the most success throughout the week in Tennessee.