Rain and mud was the topic of the first day of racing at Loretta Lynn’s.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIT PALMER
The 32nd running of the Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Tennessee got off to a wet and wild start on Tuesday, when cloudy skies turned into light rain, which ultimately turned into a brief but heavy downpour late in the afternoon, leaving the Loretta Lynn’s track a muddy mess. Despite the wet conditions, racing went on like clockwork and all 22 moto that were scheduled for the day ran their course. Thirty championships are up for grabs at Loretta’s and are decided via a simple three-moto format.
Racers with early motos had all the luck on this day. They were greeted by some sunshine and excellent track conditions. It wasn’t until about noon when the light rain began to fall intermittently all afternoon, making conditions extremely slick and tricky, but not yet soupy. That would come later.
But after winning his Senior 45+ race amid the raindrops, former factory racer Tim Ferry did say that the track had become a “full-on mudder.” He was, however, one of the lucky ones who did get to race when conditions were pristine, when he also took top honors in the Vet 35+ division, which was the second moto of the day.
The Kawasaki-mounted Ferry, running his traditional number-15 on his bike, started off slowly in both his motos and carefully and methodically worked his was way to the front, topping Robbie Reynard in the Vet class and James Povolny in the Junior 25+ class.
Tim Ferry already has two wins under his belt.
By 6 p.m., the skies darkened dramatically and the clouds unloaded just before and a little during the final two motos of the day, the Mini Senior (12-14) and Vet B/C (30+) classes. Any rider who still hadn’t used up all of their tear-off after the first lap was one of the lucky ones. Racers struggled just to get around the track, but a few of them still rode as though it was dry, such as the Mini Senior winner Joey Crown of Michigan (which might explain his mud-riding expertise). Crown didn’t seem fazed one bit by the muck after leading most of the race, but he did say afterward that it was one of the hardest motos of his life.
Suzuki rider Gabriel Jairala of Texas gave chase and was attacking the course just as hard as Crown until suffering a nasty, over-the-bars header in one of the fastest sections of the track. He finished out the race in seventh.
The rain might’ve stopped for the Vet B/C (30+) group (the final moto of the day), but the damage to the course was already done. They, too, had to slip and slide their way around the track as though it was a National Enduro. At the end, Michael Mitchell of North Carolina made the best of it by taking the win.
Overall, though, the racing was good all day, despite the generally wet conditions. One of the best races of the day was in the 85cc (9-11) class, where Kawasaki Team Green’s Carson Mumford came from behind to take the first-moto win over KTM rider Jalek Swoll. Mumford’s teammate Garrett Marchbanks finished third, followed by early leader Stilez Robertson, who was obviously disappointed for slipping back. And it didn’t help matters much that he fell early in the Limited moto, where he went from 12th to sixth.
Marchbanks won that one over Swoll.
Stilez Robertson didn’t have a good day and the disappointment shows on his face.
Cobra’s Jet Reynolds had a good race in the 65cc (6-9) Limited class, where he came up from fifth, battled Gage Linville for the lead for a little while, and then pulled away for the win.
Probably the story of the day was in the Women’s (14+) class, where Georgia’s Courtney Duncan suffered a horrific crash in the first turn, where she got out of shape and literally endoed in the middle of the high-speed first turn. She got back on the bike in 41st place and ended up finishing a remarkable seventh.
In the Open Pro Sport moto, which was held in drier conditions, Amsoil/Factory Connection Honda’s Matt Bisceglia of Texas kept his winning streak intact (he won all 12 of his moto a week earlier at Ponca City) but felt some heat late in the moto by Florida’s RJ Hampshire. The two crossed the finish line separated by only a few bikelengths.
Matt Bisceglia (95) won the Open Pro Sport after a good battle with RJ Hampshire.
Shane McElrath finished in third followed by Paul Coates.
Kawasaki rider Donald Alford won the 250 A class over Dakota Alix and Daniel Ayotte.
Former GP racer Trampas Parker had a good race with multi-time Loretta’s Champion John Grewe and prevailed at the end.
Some other class winners included Aaron Plessinger (450 B Limited), Kevin Foley (Masters 50+), Jace Kessler (65cc 10-11 Limited), Sean Cantrell (Mini Sr. 12-14), Mitchell Harrison (Supermini 1 12-15), Ryan Surratt (Schoolboy 2 12-13 B/C), Hannah Hodges (Girls 12-16), Jazzmyn Canfield (Girls 9-11) and Mackenzie Tricker (Women 14+).
More clouds and light rain is forecasted for Wednesday, but a mix of sunshine and clouds are expected for Thursday and Friday (and maybe more rain for the final day Saturday). While it might be wet and gray so far, the good news is that the racers aren’t facing the usual sweltering heat and humidity. But we might see some of that in the upcoming days.
To see the rest of the Loretta Lynn’s day one gallery click here