A Championship adds the icing on the cake but in many respects the Holy Grail of amateur Motocross appears simply from qualifying for Loretta Lynn’s.
The AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, affectionately known as Loretta Lynn’s, holds a distinction arguably unmatched in sports.
Held on a horse pasture just once a year, well, except during pandemics and/or when traveling to the glorious confines of Washougal MX Park suddenly evolves into a burdensome toil, only a select few can relish in the experience long after the living steeds return to their home.
Though Loretta Lynn’s MX paves the professional road for just a handful of those riders who spend the week at the ranch, the one's still dreaming return to their local track but the working stiffs who manage to turn back the clock head back to their day jobs the following week. With or without a trophy though, all find the accomplishment of punching their ticket to race, one of life’s biggest moments.
But getting there doesn’t come easy.
Tomorrow’s pros and the kids striving to be one seemingly have all the time in the world to prep and train for Loretta Lynn’s, but the weekend warrior who manages a 40-hour work week in between training, resting and gate drops has an uphill battle. Combine that with, for many, who no longer have the energy and fortitude they boasted as late teenagers or young 20-somethings, the road to Loretta’s looks more like a pothole riddled California freeway.
But in their favor, so many racing classes exist for competition it’s not like it’s you against the world, it’s more like you against the other handful of 30 and 40 year olds who live in your area who have the technical expertise and riding history to compete at the highest level. If you can beat them, you’ll face the country’s best in class.
No matter your age, expect to eat, breathe and live Motocross in the six months preceding the Loretta Lynn’s date, historically set the first week of August. Quite possibly, Amateur Motocross encompasses the only annual sports competition that invites those as young as 5 and those older than 50 to cherish one love and one passion together: Dirt bikes.
If you have only recently thrown a leg over a dirt bike we applaud the effort but you might want to wait a year. Gate drops count, so do get started now, but expect to face fierce competition and while Loretta Lynn’s does have a C class, those who qualify to race the ranch already have years under their riding belt.
Thanks to Vurbmoto for use of all photos
Getting Ready for Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Motocross
Decide on a Racing Class
Loretta Lynn’s MX features nearly 40 racing classes. Many disqualify you right away because of age. The Super Mini 1 (12-13) won’t have a 40-year-old racing and likewise the Vet (30+) class won’t have a 12- or 13-year-old on the line. But regardless of age, you will have multiple racing classes to choose. Therefore...
You can only race two classes at Loretta Lynn’s so pick wisely. You just might win in the Senior (45+) class but try your skills in the 250 B and quickly discover how slow you ride. But if you can hang with the younger riders than go for it. Just remember, once you pick the two racing classes you cannot switch to another class if you don’t qualify for one of the two planned. So again, choose wisely.
On to training...
Prepare to Qualify
To get your ticket to the ranch you have to qualify. Therefore, training begins long before the first week in August and well before your qualifying date. Area Qualifiers generally start in March lasting through May, then Loretta Lynn Regional Qualifiers begin in May, though some start as early as April. You need a Top 6 (some regions only Top 4) in your class to move on to the Regional Qualifiers and the same finishes apply for the Regionals to stamp the LL’s ticket. So, training might start on snow covered ground, i.e. during winter.
Tips on Qualifying and Racing the Ranch
1. Gate Drops
Nothing prepares you for racing better than actual competition. Expect some occasional travel to race (quite possibly against your eventual peers), especially for the Area and Regional qualifiers. Enter local racing events, but carve out time to hit the National level tracks and the venues that host the qualifiers. These popular tracks often hold weekend long racing contests, district series and other tournaments that bring not only the fiercest riders but the crowds, too.
Racer’s Note: Don’t sand bag for the championship. If you can swing a Top 10 in the B class then race the B class. Don’t drop down to the C class because you’ll know you’ll win.
Marathon training begins months before the actual race as runners build their bodies into shape and lengthen their endurance. Same goes for racing Motocross. Start getting into shape not months before Loretta Lynn’s but months before qualifying, if not even before. Training includes eating right, getting enough sleep, road biking, running and gym work. But nothing beats...
3. Seat Time
Yes, you want time in the gym but the best racing prep starts with seat time. Get out and ride! Fit as many practice days as you can and ride as many laps as possible. This helps with arm pump issues and builds the endurance needed to handle the best racers in the country during typical Midwest summer weather.
It helps to have a small crew to time laps and offer insight into any technique issues you might not "feel" while riding. This brings us to our final word of advice...
4. Riding Classes
Take Motocross riding classes. If you have developed bad habits over the years or lose way too much time while cornering, and all the practice in the world has yet to unwind these issues, find a riding coach to offer hands-on advice and help you correct the problem. A coach can also help hone your skills - make you faster - and identify even more tweaks needed you or your pit crew cannot see.
Qualify for Loretta’s? Congratulations but the training doesn’t stop. With less than three months from the Main Event you need to up your game even more. So, continue racing, time in the seat, hit the gym and take a class.
Never been to Loretta Lynn’s MX before? We have you covered. Read How to Prepare and Qualify for Loretta Lynn’s Motocross to give you an idea of what to expect, some advice on navigating your way through the week, how to make the most of your experience and fully make the week at Loretta Lynn’s a special time for you and your family with lifelong memories.