From a talented pack of over 23,000 entries, 33 AMA Amateur National Champions were crowned at the 25th anniversary AMA/Air Nautiques Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn's Ranch presented by Amsoil. The entries at the Area and Regional qualifying levels were narrowed down to 1,386 finalists - 42 per class - all of whom would compete in three 20-minute motos in Hurricane Mills, TN, to determine the 2006 champions.
The big winners included double National Champion Josh Hill, of Oregon, who won both the 125 A and 125 A/Pro Sport National Championships riding Yamaha YZ250Fs. Hill, who will make his professional racing debut in Millville, Minnesota this weekend, was awarded the coveted AMA Sports Horizon Award, which is given to the amateur graduate who shows the most promise in the pro ranks. Other expert class titles were won by Florida-based Kawasaki rider Matt Boni and North Carolina's Broc Tickle on a Honda.
Kawasaki's Trey Canard was perhaps the biggest surprise of the week, as the Oklahoma rider won double titles in the B class and was the only rider all week to win all six of his motos. B class favorite Austin Stroupe won the 125 B Stock title on his Kawasaki, but a hard crash eliminated him from contention in the Modified division. Sean Borkenhagen, of California, won the 250 B Stock class.
Much of the excitement of the race was generated from the Vet classes, which featured a variety of ex-pros in the ranks. Nearly all of them raced in the 35+ class, and four-time AMA National Champion Jeff Emig, of California, won championship. Ohio's Tom Carson rode a Kawasaki to his first Loretta Lynn's title in the 45+ class, ageless Yamaha rider Doug Dubach won the 40+ class on a Yamaha, Ohio's Mike Katin successfully defended his 30+ title on a Suzuki, and Cernic's Kawasaki's Jimmy Evans, of Pennsylvania, won the 25+ class. Evans has been racing at Loretta Lynn's since 1984, and for his 1-1-1 in his class, he was awarded the AMA Vet Horizon Award.
In the minicycle ranks, Suzuki's Jessy Nelson came from California to dominate the 85cc (7-11) ranks with a pair of titles. He won the AMA Sports Youth Horizon Award. Suzuki's Eli Tomac, of Colorado, and Honda's Justin Barcia, of New York, split the 85cc (12-13) stock and modified titles. Texas' Blake Wharton, on a Suzuki, and Arkansas' Terren O'Dell, on a Honda, split the senior mini titles.
Perhaps the best race of the 99 run throughout the week came in the final moto of the Women's class. Florida riders Tara Geiger and Jessica Patterson came into the moto tied on points, and seven riders battled for the lead. Patterson spent the moto battling in an incredible four-rider pack, even going back and forth with 15-year old Ashley Fiolek, who rides a CR85. Patterson finally broke free and chased down Geiger, but Geiger passed Georgia's Leah Cantrell in the final foot of the track to take the moto win and the National Championship.
"Everyone is pushing so hard," said Geiger. "There are only a few spots where you can make a living as a female racer in this sport, and everyone is going for those."
Texas rider Matt Lemoine dominated the Four-Stroke class on his Kawasaki. Texas' Tyler Wharton and California's Michael Hall split the 125cc (12-15) Stock and Modified Titles. The 65cc titles went to Adam Cianciarulo, Zach Bell, and Cooper Webb. The 51cc titles were picked up by Ryan Saubier, Sean Cantrell and Coleman Martin, and Sara Price won the 9-13 Girls championship.
Texas' standout Sean Hackley won the first-ever "TMX" ride from Toyota, as he will get a factory-supported ride next year on the Motoworldracing.com/PPG Yamaha team with support from Toyota.
Finally the Golden State of California picked up the "state championship" award for the most success throughout the week in Tennessee.