T-Dog’s Takes: Levi Kitchen Explains his Path to Star Racing, “I Almost Signed with GEICO Honda”

Notice that this column now has a sponsor? That’s right! Troy Dog joined the Blu Cru and you should too! I have one in my garage right now and I can’t wait to go shred it! Thank you to Yamaha for believing in my ELITE columns on this dirt bike website enough to sponsor me. What a dream come true! BTW: Have you seen the all-new YZ450F? OH. MY. GOODNESS. I can’t wait to test that bad boy.

By now we all should know the story of Levi Kitchen’s rise to stardom. He turned into an overnight sensation at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in 2020 when he went six for six in the 250 B Limited and 450 B Limited classes. Going undefeated in two classes at Loretta’s is impressive enough, but Kitchen did it with style and checked out to impressive leads in each moto. From that point on, all eyes were on the Washougal, Washington native. 

Kitchen ended up signing with Star Racing Yamaha after the Florida Mini Olympics in November of 2020. It turns out, as you’ll read below, that wasn’t always exactly the plan. 

vurbmoto: You came out of nowhere in 2020 in the B classes at Loretta Lynn’s and just put on a show. Fast forward to now, obviously you trained really hard to get here, even when you moved down to Real Deal (training facility), but you’ve got to be sort of shocked to look back and see how far that you’ve come in a short period of time.
Kitchen: Yeah, it was definitely something that I wanted to do and I made that decision when I moved to Louisiana. My parents gave me that option and I thought, well if I’m going to do it I better make the most of this. I don’t really think I’ve told many people this but the reason that I raced the Stock classes in 2020, there was all this strategy behind that, that I disagreed with (T-Dog note: Levi later told me he disagreed with it because “Most teams don’t look at those classes, they want to see who’s best in 250B and Schoolboy.”) My old trainer Rob was like, listen, you’re not on a Star bike, you’re on the Rock River team and he’s like I want you to leapfrog. He basically told me that I need to leapfrog Matt LeBlanc and it was actually Jarrett Frye at the time. They were on the Star bike and pretty much winning everything. Matt was in the B classes and Jarrett was in A. Rob was like, you’re not going to be as competitive, so why don’t you race the stock classes to, well…go really fast on a stock bike for attention. It looks really good on paper to go six for six at Loretta’s no matter what class that you’re in. Rather than a 2-3-1 in the B Class for a win. That’s what I did and it worked. I stood out. It worked enough to get phone calls and people interested.

Then, I also haven’t told many people this, but on my way home from Loretta’s that year I had been talking to Honda. So, it seemed like GEICO was the route I was going to take and then they folded. That left me kind of stranded, then luckily Mini O’s was good. That was when Bobby (Regan) picked me up, but it definitely happened very fast. I couldn’t believe it. 

Yeah, you’re right. I remember thinking after Loretta’s that you would for sure sign with somebody, but Mini O’s came around and nothing was official. You still had the Rock River support, but I was like really? No one is going to pick him up yet?
It was definitely a weird deal. Luckily it all worked out, but Mini O’s helped me. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for that race. Loretta’s helped, but Mini O’s 2020 is what sealed the deal. 

So, there you have it. Kitchen was going to finish off his amatuer career on a GEICO Honda before moving into the pro ranks with them. Unfortunately the team folded and Kitchen headed into Mini O’s to prove a point on his Rock River Yamaha. At Mini O’s, Levi won 7 titles in A/Pro Sport classes and was the top performing Yamaha rider. He proved himself against the toughest competition and he didn’t have to “leapfrog” anymore. 

Be sure to catch the entire Levi Kitchen interview when we post it next week. You won’t want to miss it!

Written by Troy Dog

Faster than Slaw Dog. Editor-in-Chief

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