Sometimes, the B classes at the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch provide some of the best racing and breakout rides for the next stars of this sport. This year was no different.
In the Schoolboy 2 (12-17) B/C (250cc four-strokes) and 250 B classes, we saw big named riders Haiden Deegan, Evan Ferry, Daxton Bennick, Preston Boespflug, Mark Fineis, Matti Jorgensen, and more battle it out. By week’s end, Deegan and Bennick came out on top, respectively. And in the 450 B classes—B and B Limited—we saw a breakout ride by a rather unknown rider.
Avery Long had a solid effort in the Spring Nationals, then joined the Yamaha Factory Amateur Team in the middle of May. Long had been to the Ranch seven years previously, beginning in 2014 in the 65cc (7-9) Limited class, and had claimed three top-five overall finishes in the 13 classes he had raced. But this week in 2022 was different. In the first 450 B moto, the second moto of the week behind the opening Vet (30+) class, Long finished second behind Dayton Briggs. Long claimed the second moto win and then finished second behind Jorgensen in the third moto for the overall win. In his 450 B Limited class, the #76 went 1-1-1 for the overall win and topped off his week with a 12-second gap over second place (his biggest of the week) in the final moto. The Minnesota native picked up his maiden moto and overall wins in the breakout week, then received the Amateur Rider of the Year award for his week in both combined classes. Afterwards, I caught up with Long to talk about his week.
Racer X: That was an awesome week. Talk about how everything went.
Avery Long: Awesome week. Started the week off a little rough with not a great start. Came around and managed a fair first lap and ended up going down in Ten Commandments. Came from 30th to second for my first moto of the week, so happy with that. Kind of build some momentum going in. From there, just kept getting good starts and picking off moto wins as I went. This last moto was definitely my best moto of the week. Got a great start and checked out.
So, four total moto wins, right? Two seconds and four wins, two titles. This is like a breakout ride for you.
Yeah, it’s unbelievable.
Did you do anything different this year? Just being on a new team? Did you do anything different with your program? What clicked with everything? How’d you get this stride running full speed now?
I’d say I found a new work ethic. Last year I knew that this was what I wanted to do, but I had turned 16 and still wanted to be a kid, almost. After Loretta’s last year, I didn’t have the best showing and after that I was like, something needs to change. So, I went down to Real Deal at Kevin Windham’s place down in Mississippi. Rob [Burkhart] and K-Dub, they’ve been working me into the ground there. And Miss Sherry [Burkhart], too. So, my fitness is great. My riding on the bike is the best it’s ever been. I think when you just feel good as a whole, it will help anything. I just kind of put my head down this year and grinding it out and it definitely paid off.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Minnesota. Small town called New London. It’s got very few people. The amount of messages I’ve been getting from family and friends back home has been unbelievable.
You mentioned the new team and everything. How did that come about?
I had a pretty good showing at Spring Nationals. I had a couple offers from a few other teams, but nothing really that we decided to take. Then we got a call from Danny [Lewis] and they wanted to do something, and we wanted to be a part of that.
So, you said on the podium you’re going to do that moto combine coming up Ironman, right?
What’s next? I’m sure you’ll take a couple weeks off before the Ironman combine. What’s the next 12 months going to look like for you?
I’m going to pretty much head from here back down to the shop where NSA is out of and get back to work. I haven’t ridden a 250 in a while. I’ve kind of been focusing on 450s getting ready for Loretta’s. I’m excited to hop on a 250 and go show everybody at the combine that I’m not a 450 guy.
How tall are you and how much do you weigh?
I weigh 170 and I’m probably 6’1”. Everybody tells me I’m a little taller, but I refuse to believe it. [Laughs]
I know it’s too far ahead to say, but next year, if you can look in the future, a year from now, where would you expect yourself to be at a year from now? What goals do you have for next year?
Obviously, I want to keep taking it to the professional level. Next year I’d love to be fighting for titles in the pro class here. After that, I eventually want to go pro and make a name for myself in the pro ranks.
I know some of the guys race a national before they finish out here, just to get the experience. You’re still in the B class, so it’s a little way off. Is that something maybe you’d consider if the next handful of months go really well? Maybe do a national here and there and test your fitness and then hit it hard here one last time?
I think what Ryder D [DiFrancesco] has been doing, the three rounds kind of before coming here. I think that would be great. Just help with the fitness and the race pace. Just all around help and see that next level and see where you’ve got to be to become a champion at that pro level.
To win the Amateur Rider of the Year award, what’s going through your mind now?
I won Amateur Rider of The Year. It feels great. I had no idea. I kind of heard rumblings of it, but to get my name called up there is unreal. It feels awesome.
That’s got to be a great way to cap off the week.
It definitely was. The week was great, and this tops it off even more. Unbelievable week. Only something I dreamed of as my first time down here.
Anybody you’d like to thank?
My mom and dad. My two little brothers. Danny, Ed [Torrance], Donnie [Luce] for giving me this opportunity. Just everybody in my corner. They’ve helped me so much this year. I just want to express how grateful I am for them.
Main image by Mitch Kendra