The following press release is from the American Motorcyclist Association:
AMA Congratulates 2023 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year Jett Lawrence
Also honors 2023 AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Jesse Thomas
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association offers its congratulations to 2023 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year Jett Lawrence, as well as the 2023 AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, the late Jesse Thomas.
“Many riders made great contributions to our sport this year and beyond, but Jett Lawrence and Jesse Thomas set themselves apart with their outstanding achievements and dedication to motorcycling,” AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman said. “Jett had an unbelievable run in AMA Supercross and Motocross this year, claiming several championships, making him worthy of the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year distinction. Jesse’s unrelenting love for our sport and his lifelong work to grow motorcycling in Kentucky left no doubt that he was deserving of the AMA Dud Perkins Award.”
Lawrence was a dominant presence on the track throughout the 2023 season, racing his way to the AMA Supercross 250 West, AMA Pro Motocross 450 and SuperMotocross 450 championships. Although Lawrence’s resume in 2023 is impressive on its own, the fashion in which he competed propelled him above the rest.
During his chase for the 450 Pro Motocross title, Lawrence became the only in-class rookie to record a perfect moto-win season, finishing 22-0 for the series.
For Lawrence, his standout 2023 season was the culmination of a long, arduous journey to reach the highest levels of motorcycle racing. A native of Australia, Lawrence and his family — including his brother Hunter, who also races professionally — moved to Europe during the brothers’ teenage years, where they endured economic hardship in the pursuit of racing success.
The Lawrences ultimately proved their racing prowess, moving to the United States in 2018 and earning their AMA Pro licenses in 2019 when Jett was only 16 years old. From there, Jett raced his way to a number of championships — including a pair of AMA Pro Motocross 250 Championships in 2021 and 2022 — completing his ultimate goal of racing at the upper echelon of the sport.
“What Jett Lawrence accomplished this year was extraordinary,” said AMA Board of Directors Chairman Russ Ehnes. “The combination of his AMA Supercross and Pro Motocross wins, as well as his perfect rookie season, was worthy of recognition, which is why we selected him as the 2023 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year. We’re proud to have Jett and his brother Hunter as AMA members, and the Lawrence family’s story — transitioning from Australia to Europe to the United States in search of achieving Jett and Hunter’s racing dreams — is truly compelling.”
Thomas’ lifelong commitment to the sport of motorcycling made him the perfect candidate for the AMA Dud Perkins Lifetime Achievement Award, which is presented annually to an individual who provides the highest level of service to the AMA in any area of activity.
“He did a lot of really good work and impacted a lot of families,” Thomas’ grandson, Chase, said. “It’s really cool that [the AMA] went back and honored him because he did a lot for the riding in this area.”
Thomas established the West Kentucky Trail Riders AMA club in 1970, thus beginning a long run as a race promoter for several AMA National Enduros and Hare Scrambles. In 1987, Thomas founded the KT Riders AMA Club, which currently promotes the longest running AMA Dual Sport series in the country in the LBL 200, which takes place in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Tennessee.
For his tireless efforts as a promoter, Thomas and his family received the AMA Recreational Riding Organizer of the Year in 2019. Despite his passing on Sept. 29, Thomas’ impact is felt throughout his family as his son, Bob, and his grandsons, Chase and Dustin, have continued his work with KT Riders, now known as Thomas Brothers Promotions.
Beyond the world of promoting, Thomas also raced flat track in the late ’50s and owned a successful motorcycle dealership in Cadiz, Ky. Thomas was also a fixture in his community, helping open several county recycling sites, while serving on boards for the Trigg County Hospital, Trigg County Recreation Center, the Tennessee Valley Advisory and the U.S. Forestry Service Advisory.
For more information, visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com.