The best of the best amateur motocross competitors will be racing around the track at Windy Hill Sports in Ellerbe this weekend, qualifying for the American Motorcyclist Association Amateur National Motocross Championship at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., which takes place July 29 through Aug. 4.
“We have 827 racers registered right now,” said Joe Ussery, owner of Windy Hill Sports. “There will be more people than that here though, because they all come with team members, family and friends.”
Ellerbe and surrounding areas will be jam-packed with an influx of motocross fans. More than 3,000 spectators are expected to be in attendance, he said.
“They all come in on Thursday, they practice on Friday and the races are Saturday and Sunday,” Ussery said. “We have campground facilities, where many stay in motor homes. We refer the rest to local motels.”
The race is such a big deal because it’s the last stop for regional racers before the event at Loretta Lynn’s ranch.
“What makes the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship unique is the multi-tiered qualification process,” said AMA Director of Racing Joe Bromley. “Riders from around the country must first prove they are the best in their area, then region, before they are invited to the biggest amateur motocross race of the year at Loretta Lynn’s ranch.”
Those riders — the best amateur motocross racers in the country — advance to the Red Bull AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship presented by Amsoil at the Loretta Lynn Ranch to race for AMA National No. 1 plates in 36 classes. The best riders will compete for the coveted AMA Motocross Horizon Award, presented to the amateur racer poised for success in the pro ranks.
The success of the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship has produced a long list of AMA Supercross and Motocross superstars. Riders who have progressed through the program include Ricky Carmichael, Jeremy McGrath, Travis Pastrana, James Stewart, Kevin Windham, Ryan Dungey, Ryan Villopoto and many more.
“Since the creation of the amateur motocross nationals in 1975, the best motocross racers in the world have made their way through the AMA amateur national championship program,” said AMA Motocross Manager Kip Bigelow. “But qualifying to line up at the amateur nationals is a tall task. Racers must advance through an area and regional qualifying system that provides a best-of-the-best lineup at the championships every summer. The AMA is once again looking forward to working with the dedicated staff at MX Sports, and all the local track organizers who will make this happen in 2012.”
“Windy Hill Sports is thrilled to welcome this championship to our hometown track,” Ussery said. “It will bring thousands of people to this area, in turn boosting the local economy and opening the eyes of locals to an exciting sport that is growing rapidly. Windy Hill Sports is expecting a bigger weekend than ever before; a weekend of family, fun, camping, excitement and racing galore.”
“It’s a great event for kids, especially since the racers are in the youth category,” said Peggy Ussery. “We have concession stands, and it’s a very exciting and competitive event. We also have a group of women qualifying.”
Spectators are welcome to watch the races. Ticket prices are $30 for three days, $20 for two days or $10 for one day.
Windy Hill Sports is located at 2782 U.S. Hwy. 220 N. Business in Ellerbe, just before David’s Produce on the right. To find out more about the track, or view upcoming race schedules, go to the website windyhillsportsmx.com.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.