We've been asking some of the top graduates of Loretta Lynn's from yesteryear to tell us about their favorite moto from the Ranch. Since the race was founded in 1982, we’ve got a bunch of fast folks to choose from.
We will close out this series of favorite motos from Loretta Lynn’s with one of the all-time greats in amateur motocross and the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Florida’s Tim Ferry was a seven-time champion here as a kid, then went on to a fine professional career. He rode for the Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha factory teams, won a handful of outdoor nationals, a couple of Motocross of Nations with Team USA, and a 125 East Region Supercross title. But while he was on his way up, he was mostly an unknown prospect from a family of modest means that lived in West Palm Beach. And it was a moto at the Ranch where everything started to click and Ferry figured out that he was pretty darn good on a minicycle.
“When I left Loretta Lynn’s at the end of my amateur career I had the most titles at seven, which was a really big deal for me and my family, and we’re still really proud of that,” said Ferry. “There were so many moments along the way, and different motos that I really remember, like the time I came from way behind in ’91 or ’92 after I fell in the first turn, but I still won the title. But the one I remember the most came in 1987.
“I was just starting to ride pretty good, and my dad knew I was riding good, but in the first moto (of the 85cc 12-13 stock class) I just choked —I absolutely choked,” admitted Ferry, who was riding a Honda CR80 at the time. “I finished 27th, 28th, something like that, and my dad was livid. He’s usually the most calm guy you’ll ever meet. He loves racing. But he just freaked out on me after the race! And it was at that moment that I was more upset than my dad—I was more upset about disappointing him, because we had all put so much into it. I mean, we were living in an AC trailer, in the back of a camper shell on a pickup truck, so everything we put into racing was a sacrifice for us. He was so upset that he pulled his tool belt off and slammed it down on the back of the open-rail trailer, and he said he was ready to just go home. And I probably just cried—I can’t remember—but I’m sure I was bummed out.”
Fortunately, the Ferry family did not load up and leave. They stayed to give it one more try, and this time Tim came through.
“I went and finished third, and then backed it up with a fourth the next moto,” he recalled. “I had never even finished better than tenth overall at that point, so to get a trophy for finishing ninth overall was a really big deal for us. And that moment just really got me past all of my fears about racing, and winning and losing, and I didn’t really know where I was as a racer—I was never a top-ten guy, but now all of a sudden I was, and I knew I could win.
“It’s funny but the fear of losing and disappointing my dad was worse than my fear of the competition,” he continued, “but then it changed after I got third in that moto and I knew I belonged up there.”
It wasn’t like that for long, as a representative of Honda’s amateur support program came over and told Mr. Ferry that if Tim was going to run up front, then at least let them give him new plastic so his worn-out bikes looked better!
Ferry ended up ninth overall in that 85cc class, behind some names that would become pretty familiar in the future: Jimmy Button, Buddy Antunez, and road racing legend Colin Edwards. But the next year he came back and won the class, and then began putting together a resume that would land him with Kawasaki Team Green in 1991 and ’92, years in which he swept both titles. By that point he was well on his way to a professional career, but it all started for Tim Ferry with a third in the second moto of the 1987 85cc (12-13) stock class.
Note: The main image for this post of Ferry with the championship gear was from the 1992 Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch.