Horizon Award Winner
One of my favorite events that unfold every year at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch is to see who the next Nicky Hayden AMA Horizon Award winner will be. Sometimes it’s a total given ala James Stewart in 2001, Mike Alessi in 2004 or Ryan Villopoto in 2005. While other times it’s given to a rider who obviously was the best rider of the week, but not necessarily the biggest name such as Benny Bloss in 2015 or even last year with Caden Braswell. Other times you look back at this award and it just makes sense. Take Trey Canard for example in 2007. Yes, he had gone 6 for 6 in the B modified classes in 2006, but he didn’t have to square off with Nico Izzi or Austin Stroupe for those wins. Stroupe and Izzi were the favored riders going into the Ranch in 2007 and Canard ended up winning 4 of 6 motos and went on to become what he is today. For a while there it seemed like if you were the GEICO Honda prospect that you were guaranteed to win the award. I can’t wait to see who gets added to the list this year. Daxton Bennick is my favorite, but these A classes are definitely stacked this year.
The hometown kid Mike Brown has been coming to race the Ranch for a long time now. Some would say that he’s not human, but most would agree that he is one of the greatest to ever race there. To my knowledge Mike is going for his 12th and 13th championships this year. He’s amassed 7 of those in the vet classes since 2017 and he skipped 2020 entirely. If you’re at the Ranch then you MUST catch a glimpse of the legend because even though he’s probably going to race until he’s 80, you won’t want to miss a lap.
For some reason I really love the breakout stars that absolutely make a name for themselves at the Ranch. It doesn’t happen every year, but some years you’ll have that kid that seems to come out of nowhere. Ryan Dungey, Austin Forkner, Dilan Schwartz, Levi Kitchen, and Leum Oehlhof are just a few. These guys have had their careers jumpstarted at this race after an incredible week. I talked to Levi Kitchen for this week’s Squad Pod and he gave me plenty of insight into what it’s like to be “the guy” and everything that comes with it. It’s a MUST listen and it’s available on the Vurbmoto Podcast Network on Wednesday. Who will be the new guy to impress us all this year?
I keep an eye on the 50 and 65 classes at Loretta’s, but I don’t put a lot of stake in them. For one, I can’t really be sure if I’ll ever hear about these kids name ever again. The attention spans on these 4-8 year old kids is that of a horse fly on a steaming pile of Slaw Dog. They are more excited to make toy dirt bike tracks or hang out with friends by the creek. One year they are full on into racing and the next they are into baseball or basketball. You really don’t start to see a trend of who the big names are in the next wave of amateurs until the younger 85 classes. Still, it’s important to keep an eye on the next era of groms and we will see a new class enter the fray today.
Enjoy the Moments
Whether you’re racing, hanging out, or chasing hot moms, if you end up at the Ranch this week you need to take it all in and enjoy as much as possible. For some this is a once in a lifetime experience. For others this week will be another notch on the old belt. You need to cherish this moment in time and soak it all in. If you’re racing, just remember, your future will not be dictated by winning or losing. You’ll have time to prove yourself in due time. Try to have as much fun as you can no matter the pressure you have on you to perform. This is Loretta Lynns.
Main image: Mike Vizer