Don’t let anybody fool you, Loretta’s is still THE BIG DADDY for any amateur motocross racer that aspires towards greatness. It’s the absolute toughest ticket to get and, the most prestigious. Even if people are not flocking to local races so much anymore, show up to a Loretta Lynn’s AMA Amateur National Motocross Qualifier and you’ll have your hands full. Generally speaking, the Area Qualifiers – of which there are 5-8 per Region – feature your usual fast locals, plus individuals from surrounding states. You’ll also often find those from far-flung areas trying to stuff a  “back-up” qualifier into their filthy pockets…

And, if you think things are tough at your LL Area Qualifier, things get insane at the LL Regional level as the seven or eight invited racers (in each of thirty-three classes) advances on towards the ultimate goal of competing in that sweaty jungle in Tennessee. Only forty-two talented invitees will be lined up at Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch for each class. Usually, the LL Area Qualifiers host 300-600 riders to their big events, and the seven LL Regional Qualifiers often have 800-1000 racers attempting to move up the food chain.

With two Girl’s classes, a Women’s class and about fifteen each of Mini and Age/Talent classes, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone, yet this is no easy ticket, not in any class. Hard work and tons of sweat must be oozed before you even make it out of the Area Qualifiers.

After experiencing the world’s longest winter, I was anxious to come out to our local track (Briarcliff MX Park in Ohio) – to see what was going on, especially as this was the last Area Qualifier in our region, before the Regional Qualifier in Indiana, in two weeks. Of note, this “Ironman” track in Indiana, freshly built, will be hosting its first race with this LL Regional Qualifier and, of course, be hosting its first Lucas Oils AMA National Pro Motocross, in August.

Still true, 50 and 65cc kids often have the biggest rigs and fanciest motorhomes.

C riders often have huge entourages and smoking-hot “mechanics.”

Why do people from New Mexico drive to Ohio for a qualifier? Because they have roads that come this way.

Ohio’s Aaron Plessinger was the class of the A classes here, he makes those Yamahas squirm.

In the B classes, it was all about Minnesota’s Gavin Wilkins, also thrust about on a Yamaha. He’s a wildly entertaining and talented racer…

By far, my favorite racer nickname- was in attendance and running hot – Richie “ PowPowPow” Kolcun doing well in the B’s…

Brock Papi, of Pennsylvania, put on a show in the Mini classes, future pro fo sho…

Was introduced to a six-year-young racer from NYC and his dad – AMA Amateur MX guru Alex Hunter insists this kid is the “ NEXT RC”….Ok….

My ol’ buddy BILL Leake, all fifty-nine (59!) years of him, cleaned up in the 50 class, making us all question our worthiness…. Why the 50 + class only gets 20 slots at Lorettas eludes and frustrates this normally calm writer. And to insult to roost, make them stagger start behind 45 + ? Not cool. A crime against old men and motocross, I say! (dammit).

LL Regionals are staged across this great nation, starting in early June, get out to one if you want to see dawn to dusk, frantic racing, in many a class and, get down to Loretta’s in August. You MUST experience it…at least once.

Tata for now, chachacha.

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