Rev Up: The Ranch

Rev Up: The Ranch

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. With the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship enjoying their last weekend off in the 2013 regular season, the focus is on the amateurs down in Tennessee. One of the coolest aspects of Loretta Lynn’s is the attendance by several major names in the pro ranks. All over the ranch at the various manufacture pit areas you can see moments like the old Coca Cola commercial when Mean Joe Green threw the young fan a jersey. For a young motocross racer, meeting your heroes is something that is hard to put words to. When a little guy or gal is in the presence of a Ryan Dungey, or Ricky Carmichael, for the first time it is a special scene. Most of the time, the locked on stare of the youngling says a hundred words. It’s a reciprocal satisfaction, because the pro guys can look back at the kids and see themselves.

In that regard, it is hard to argue with the pedigree of the Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s. With the exception of those won by a few foreign imports, every single professional championship over the past couple decades has been won by a Loretta Lynn graduate. Even Germany’s Ken Roczen has felt Loretta’s pressure in the waning moments of his amateur days. Before him, Ernesto Fonseca from Costa Rica owned LL titles.

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Bowyer's comeback attempt in 2003 at the Ranch was cut short.
Racer X Archives photo

With today being Thursday, the families competing for titles begin to tighten the reigns on their program. We used to park beside the Carmichael’s back in the day, and when it came time for the third moto’s we only had a “two motorhome” play zone. That’s two motor homes one way, and the other. The game room, BMX track and creek would have to hold off until the racing was done. I waited until then to try the highest plank on the old rope swing tree by the creek, jump the bigger BMX doubles and finally ask for the phone number of the smoking hot girl from Texas on the pink Honda spree. Actually, I remember a few of my buddies not making it past Monday before going for that last move. All of the racing and off track banter culminates for the experiences of the trophy presentation.

It’s kind of a surreal scene inside the “Amsoil Pavilion” at the conclusion of the event. All of the little guys have their collared shirts tucked into their shorts and are wearing hats that are a little too big. While we maybe missed a sponsor plug, my parents always had my brothers and I comb our hair neatly so we looked our best. Although I say surreal because of the various demeanor of the kids around me. We all had our war wounds from the two weeks of racing that began at Ponca City, Oklahoma, which seemed like a month rather than a week prior. I remember sitting in the bleachers and watching the motor home convoy head back towards Stage Coach Hill for the long journey home, sans trophies. I remember my hands sweating as Tim Cotter began listing off the class champions and it was about time for my class to come up. I thought stuff like, “I hope my outfit looks cool...I hate my hair cut...I wonder if they’ll pronounce my name correctly...maybe this will be the year Team Green talks to Pops...”

In what was one of my favorite memories ever, I stood up with the top ten from my class and indeed looked like a dork from the Midwest with a surfer mullet. They did actually say, Andy Bowyer from Emporia, Kansas cleanly, and as I was walking off the stage I saw Jose Gonzales from Team Green shaking my father’s hand. Pops walked over with his backwards arms and head down pace like he always does, and said, “We did it, son.” You can stand a few yards back from the steps of the stage and watch similar instances happen dozens of times.

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Bowyer's shining moment at the Ranch. A win over the GOAT.

The Loretta Lynn’s experience doesn’t wash off. The Bowyer’s attended from ‘87 until ‘96 and we won three motos during our tenure. Two by me, and one by Clint. My youngest brother Casey should have gotten a trophy for most laps around the ranch on a Yamaha Fat Cat. Clint hunts on ground near the ranch during the winter months and still stops to eat at the Log Cabin and drives down to look at the track.

It’s all culminating as you read these words. As always, there are special stories with never before heard of names turning the heads of the industry. They will begin crowning champions tomorrow, and soon the motor homes will begin their exodus. The ranch will become silent again, and soon the grass will begin to cover the track where dreams are made.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.

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