Picture this if you will: All in one room you have Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Kevin Windham, Jeff Emig, Ivan Tedesco, and Ryan Villopoto, plus a few industry friends like Steve Whitelock, Scott Taylor, Davey Coombs, Chris “Beeker” Onstott, Randy Lawrence, and Anthony Paggio in one of the biggest bench-racing sessions ever. It took place in Loretta Lynn’s dressing room, where the aforementioned motocross icons made good use of an air conditioner, a little bit of privacy, and a cooler full of ice-cold beer (for those of age and in the mood for one) and traded tales of their individual European experiences while they waited to take the stage for the ceremony. The exchange of words during this gathering set the tone for what just may be the most inspiring event I have ever been a part of. Seriously, it was that cool.
One of my responsibilities during Loretta’s week is to be Tim Cotter’s right-hand man. This requires me to be his shadow at all times during special events, which led me to a spot on the floor to sit down and take everything in. I was silent the whole time, just concentrating on enjoying and remembering what I was hearing. In the middle of it all I noticed Ryan Villopoto was also hanging on every word of every story. It had to be the ultimate education for the newest member of Team USA.
I kept poking my head out to view the Amsoil Pavilion area to check on the crowd that was beginning to file in. Finally, the house was packed and Cotter belted out a welcome on the microphone to get everybody’s attention. We passed out hundreds of American flags, and they were being waved with great enthusiasm in the wake of Tim’s opening speech. First up, the winning 2005 team—RC, K-Dub, and Ivan— was called up after an awesome video, and they spoke about how incredible it felt to win in France last year. As the show rolled on, AMA President Rob Rasor and Whitelock took turns on the mic and laid down some great words of knowledge and information on how Team USA is chosen.
This is when the coolest part of the night occurred. A simple open-mic session ensued, which produced some of the most important and insightful speeches I have ever heard come from a motocrosser. In fact, a recording should be played over and over for every young motocross rider in America. Ricky Carmichael’s legend grew a little bigger as he explained how badly he wanted to be a part of Team USA when he was a kid and when he finally made the team it was the best feeling you could ever experience. RC was a flux capacitor of information as he laid out from the heart just how special it felt to stand on that podium after beating the best in the world. Heck, I just got the same goosebumps on my arms again as I wrote that sentence.
One of the best aspects of the Loretta Lynn’s Nationals is the educational experience it provides for the families and racers. I grew up racing with Kevin and Ricky, and my brother grew up racing Ivan. To see those guys up there as members and winners of the Motocross des Nations and preaching to the kids that will one day take their place was absolutely surreal. It was just such a benevolent and powerful vibe of positive energy. I didn’t know if I felt like pumping my fist or tearing up or both.
There are a lot of bad things going on in the world right now. I haven’t been on the net or watching television for over four days, so I have been devoid of all of the bad noise. Instead I have been inundated with this incredible event that is taking place down here in Hurricane Mills, TN. I know in the back of my mind that we are at war and there is a plethora of negativity taking place over most of this mud ball called Earth, but right here in this little world of Loretta Lynn’s, things are damn near perfect so far. Knock on wood.
So listen up, world: RC, James, and Ryan are coming straight at you. They have been harvested from a machine that produces great people and even greater motocross racers. The rest of the world better start preparing right now, because the storm is coming.
Thank you for reading, see you next week.