Rev Up: The Big Week

July 30, 2009 5:12pm | by:

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. It's that time of year again. Since I was 10 years old, my calendar year began and ended with the Amateur National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn's. New Years Eve is just a party. Everything begins and ends at Loretta's. After all, it is the biggest motocross race in the world. 

I've been around the event long enough to see it go through a lot of changes. I believe it has gone through four unique stages that have come to be because of the ever-changing sport, as well the world around us. 

I think the first stage took place between 1982 and 1986. A lot was different during the infant stages, but it immediately stole command of the amateur motocross scene. It quickly drew even with all of the NMA and GNC events that were already established. The three-moto format, extremely strict stock class rules, and racing "bibs" were signature trademarks. Legends began being made. All around the country, names like Junior Jackson, Mike LaRocco, and Brian Swink could be heard during bench racing sessions the kids had as they made tracks in the dirt with their toy motorcycles. "You hear Junior jumped the 10-commandments on a 60cc?"

By the time the second stage began to take place, the 1987-1993 era, the event had grown into the premiere amateur national in the world. Even the regional qualifiers had grown into some of the biggest races in the country. Every amateur rider waited all year to make it to Loretta's so they could see their friends at the game room, and jump out of the giant tree at the river. These were amazing years, and some of the best of my life, personally. The names and faces that walked across the stage at trophy presentation would shape the professional scene for the next decade. Names like Denny Stephenson, Jeremy McGrath, Jeff Emig, and Damon Bradshaw. 

Then, the event went into a transitional period from 1994-2000. A lot of things began to change. The kids didn't fill the game room to shoot pool anymore, and they cut down the big tree by the river. The BMX jumps down by the creek disappeared, as did the many tents and box vans. Families began showing up in diesel pusher motor homes and everything became more serious.

Captain Russ Bennet, the legendary starter and flagman was gone. Loretta's also lost its founder, Big Dave. He was the racer's best friend, and a whole lot more. But through these changes and loss came new light and energy. Meanwhile, two new names were graduating from Loretta Lynn's University. One of them would become the Greatest of All-Time. The other is the current "fastest man alive." The third stage of Loretta Lynn's became strong and molded the week into what most of it looks like today. 

The action sports scene had also come to fruition and the sport had gone through a complete metamorphosis. 

I believe we are still riding through the fourth stage of the event today. But, you can feel another change on the horizon. They're changing the track the most they have for the first time since 1982. That is a good thing. Suffice to say, the new bikes under the Kawasaki tent next week are different animals than those that sat there in 1982. What else will change? Will it be good or bad? Hey, that's life. The only certainty is there is no certainty.

If you're looking for comfort, breathe easy and know that the basic pedigree that made Loretta Lynn's an immense success that has shaped the lives of tens of thousands of kids in a positive manner, remains intact. 

Before I go, I just want to express how special that race has been to my family and I. If someone asked me what my three proudest moments are they might be shocked to hear that they all took place on that stage at Loretta's. I picked up a first place trophy there in 1989. A decade later (circa 1999) I did a speech on behalf of Fox Racing on that same stage. It was tough because we lost a young rider named Brandon Layton that year and I tried to tell the kids about when I lost my buddy JD Collins in 1995. I told them life is like racing, and there will be bad days. But, you get up and put your boots on and keep going. Pete Fox sent me an ‘atta boy e-mail for my speech. Then last year I got to read the rules for the video that plays during opening ceremonies. That was just such an honor to me. Just a plow boy hick from Kansas getting to read the rules at Loretta's. I was so damn proud. Still am. 

{LINKS}Everything begins and ends at Loretta's. The year is over. I'm driving over to Hurricane Mills on Monday afternoon to watch some races and see old friends. I'll eat at the Log Cabin. I'll walk over to the old game room where we shot pool, and probably drive out to where that old tree was. 

But, the coolest thing will be watching all of those families enjoying the best week of the year.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.