Perhaps one of the strangest turns of events in Loretta Lynn’s history happened at the last round of the 2007 ITP/Moose Racing ATVA National. A total of 607 riders survived the forecasted heat advisory as temperatures reached triple digits in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Out of 32 classes, there was 23 classes with 1-1 win sweeps, including the Pro, Pro Am and Pro Am Women’s classes.
The win just came down to the wire in the Pro Am Women's class, as Angela Butler and Heather Byrd fought from the start for the overall 2007 ITP/Moose Racing ATVA National MX Championship. Year after year, these two women run each other down, and only one gets the No. 1 Plate. This year, the final moto of the last race would determine the winner—Angela Butler.
In Moto 1, Butler jumped out front of Tennessee’s Heather Byrd, followed by Leslie Ragon fighting for top three with Jamie Jones. “The first moto I didn't have a couple of things dialed in that I wanted to,” said Byrd. "Angela got a good start so I was able to follow her, and check out a few things.”
Butler stayed smooth throughout the entire race, pulling Byrd to the finish. “The first moto I had a great holeshot,” said Butler. “I felt really good out there and was riding really good. The last couple of laps I kind of backed off a little bit just to try to save some for Moto 2.”
In Moto 2, Byrd had the holeshot with Butler riding close behind and waiting for the pass. Butler was all over Byrd in the front section, charging by Byrd through the six-pack rhythm and setting up the pass on the inside line. “[Heather] had a really good holeshot,” said Butler. “At first I thought I was going to get it, but she had the good spot on the gate, and she was able to go on the inside of me. She gets really good starts most of the time anyways, so I gotta get onto my game there. Other than that, she kind of pulled away at first and I told myself that I need to get into the game and do my job; I just need to do what I need to do out there.”
“The track's just a little different the second moto; a little tackier in certain spots,” said Byrd. “I really wasn't prepared for that. It just wore you out more. Angela rode a great race, and I know this track has a lot of whoops, and like I always say, she's queen of the whoops, so it's something I gotta practice and work harder on, but it's always a great season. Hats off to Angela, she rode a great race and had a hell of season, and it's just great to have all the girls out here. There's five of us in the Pro Am this weekend; just hope some more girls step up into it next year."
Butler checked the 1-1 sweep on her way to her seventh ATVA Championship.
"[Heather and I have] been racing for ten years exactly now,” said Butler. “We have a long history with each other, and it's really good. We'd love to have more girls out there; I think we just need to kind of plan to quit together. It feels really good [to win another championship.] Some people say the first championship feels the best, but I think any championship feels good especially when you have really good competitive people to race against. It feels like my first one, and I want to keep it; I love it."
Two divisions of Pro Am saw Tennessee's own Clay Holmes steal the show and finish out the season undefeated. In Division 1, Holmes left Cody Miller in second after the start. The top two checked out from the rest of the pack, as Miller rode tight behind Holmes who had locked up the championship with still one moto to go. “I trained a little harder, and the hard work paid off,” Holmes said after his first moto win.
In second place was the upcoming Yamaha ride of Cody Miller, who raced once earlier in the season. "The race went really good," Miller said. "I wish I could have holeshotted it. Clay ended up in the front, and I knew it was going to be tough after that. I stayed close and tried to follow his lines. There’s just a few places on the track where I could catch up to him and get on him. I attempted to make a pass but it never really did pull through."
One pass that did pull through for Miller happened later in Moto 2. Holmes pulled another holeshot, with Nick Denoble passing for the lead on the first lap, Holmes had first by the green flag. While Holmes ran away with the win, Denoble battled with Florida’s Josh Williams, Cody Miller and Cody Harris for top five. A battle for second developed between Denoble and Miller. Miller gained on Denoble by tripling into the Ten Commandments, and later charging down the Camel-back rhythm section for the inside line. “He pulled on me, I went wide and he stuck his corner in there,” Denoble said. “He got passed me—good rider.”
“I had second yesterday behind Clay again, and second again today,” Miller said. “Today I had to work a little bit harder for it, I was about to wad up on the start, and I made it out fourth or fifth and had to work my way up. It was a long hard race, but my bike’s working real well, so I feel pretty good.”
Next year, Cody Miller will make his Professional debut, after competing in the AMA Pro ATV Open at Steel City on August 25. “I’m going to train all the off-season and turn it up a notch. Yamaha’s helping me out, DASA and everybody. It’s been a big help, I’m going to train all off-season and try to run Pro next year and see what I can do.”
Picking up in the Pro class, a total of 16 riders lined the gate, where the top spot stayed up for grabs. Yamaha's "Downtown" Patrick Brown turned the fastest lap with a 2:06.1 in practice, earning the top qualifier award in the Pro class.
"We made a few changes to the bike overnight," Brown said. "I walked the track and found a few good lines out there. The shocks are working great today; everything's hooking up good. I feel really good. I went about three hard laps; just went out and did it."
This is only my second [top qualifier award] I think," Brown continued. "I've tried to kind of calm down a little bit in practice, because I realize that winning all these practices and not winning any races, so I've tried to change my strategy a little bit and save up my energy. I just rode smooth out there today, and hopefully I can carry it out into the main. It's just got good tacky dirty out there I really like; you hook up great. It's got a lot of switchbacks, so hopefully I can give Joe Byrd a run for his money out here. He's won a couple years in a row; he rides awesome out here."
In Moto 1, Joe Byrd landed the ATVRiders holeshot award and set the pace until he signaled off the gas; a mechanical problem soon came into play. “Well, there wasn’t a pipe there,” Byrd said. “I came around, I thought I had a hole in the pipe, and the next time I looked down, and there wasn’t a pipe. I pointed out, slowed down, he saw there wasn’t a pipe; he ran back and got one. When I knew he was in the mechanic’s area with the pipe, that’s when I stopped. I could have DNFed. I wanted to stop and had a quick pit crew change and it worked out, and then I was pretty bummed. I didn’t think I would finish the race; I lost a lap, but at least I finished.”
Meanwhile, Wienen landed an easy win in Moto 1, after a battle between Lawson and Goodman for second resulted in another spin. Patrick Brown ended up second, with Keith Little in the third spot.
After finishing fifteenth in Moto 1, Byrd had bagged the championship, marking the first-ever AMA Pro ATV Champion. “I wanted to get my speed going and win here again, but the title was the biggest thing,” Byrd said. “I saw that Jeremy and Harold got in a pile up or something happened there. Bad luck happens; actually it’s good luck on my part, and my hats off to all those guys, hats off to Chad, he rode a good race—a bittersweet victory for me. I wanted to win, but the title’s more important, that’s what I came here for, and I got it.”
With the championship already decided, it was all-out drag race for the holeshot in Moto 2. Wienen and Byrd were side-by-side through the first sweeper, with Wienen edging out the professor of the ATVRiders holeshot award.
“Definitely, I was very surprised to get it,” Wienen said. “I had a great jump out of the gate. I seen a red bike beside me, and I figured it was Keith or Harold, you know, but I just held it on and just charged to the first corner and came out front, and led throughout the whole race. The heat down here just caught up to me towards the end of the race. It was just enough time to take the win.”
Wienen gave special thanks to the fans after a welcoming win. “It’s great,” he said. “You know, I can see the arms flying and they’re cheering. This is the race to win. In Illinois, I wanted to go win at my home track, but the year before, I got the podium finish, and I wanted to take the top spot this year. I just wanted to go ride and box with them, just being to be competitive; that’s what I’m all about. I want to go where the competition is, and being down here and win Loretta’s is a big opportunity, and I feel privileged to be able to take the win here.”
“No, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he continued. “It’s been happening really good for me this weekend. I’ve been training with Jeremiah, at the Jones’ trying to get used to this heat—it’s not the same out here, it’s just something with the valleys, the sun’s just beating on you, but I put in a lot of preparation, [and it] definitely did help out.
While Wienen never looked back from first place, Byrd charged hard through the heat, his speed increasing at the end of the race. “I love the heat,” Byrd said. “This is one of my favorite tracks, and I wanted to at least try to win me one moto. You know, these guys are riding good, and I finally got around Keith and I had a couple of bobbles and told myself to just settle down, and Chad was running a good pace. I just like everything to work in my favor, and I chased him down, but passing’s another thing. I got close, but he was going good, so he rode a good race.”
Jeremy Lawson battled for third in Moto 2, passing fellow Honda riders Harold Goodman and Keith Little after the start. Lawson went 10-3 for fourth overall, with Sage Baker’s 6-7 rounding out the top 5.
The heat blanket was heavy, as most riders counted down the laps with the rising mercury. “It was probably more towards the end for me,” said Little. “I think probably three laps to go, that’s when I really started to realize how hot it was. Just like Chad said, you can train at home all week in this heat and it still doesn’t justify coming here to Loretta’s. It always seems to be hotter and tougher here at Loretta’s and then you throw the competition in there that you don’t have when you’re at home practicing, and that probably makes a difference right there, and gets it where it’s really rough on us.”
Little went 3-5 for second overall, with Yamaha of Canada’s Jasmin Plante on the podium with a 4-6. Pat Brown posted 2-14 for seventh overall, over Byrd in eighth with a 15-2.
ITP/Moose ATVA National MX Championship Presented by Parts Unlimited
AMA Pro ATV
ATV Dirt Days, Loretta Lynn’s, Hurricane Mills, TN
August 12, 2007
1. Chad Wienen 1-1
2. Keith Little 3-5
3. Jasmin Plante 4-6
4. Jeremy Lawson 10-3
5. Sage Baker 6-7
6. Travis Spader 5-8
7. Patrick Brown 2-14
8. Joe Byrd 15-2
9. Harold Goodman 13-4
10. Hunter Miller 8-9
Amateur riders like Jason Corn went 1-1 in the Production Limited class, and hard feelings paying off for the Illinois native. “Yeah it’s pretty hard,” Corn said. “The track was a little better than I thought it was. Some stiff competition, I pulled the holeshot at the last minute, straight out front.”
In his first national ever, Indiana’s Kade Wagner took 5th place overall in 50 Production Auto (6-8) with a 4-6. “[The track was] good,” Wagner said. “I liked the big table top in the back.”
Hometown Tennessee rider Travis Moore overcame a second in Moto 1, and what happened failed to discourage him.
“With a lap and a half to go, I blew a rear tire,” said Moore. “So I just tied to salvage as much points as I could and came out here and pulled it off today.”
With the championship on the line, Moore called the shots and came out with overall win. “Yeah, I had to finish at least in the top 12 to get [the championship], so I guess you can say this race did help a lot with it. I wanted to come out here with a win, leave the A class a champion. [I’ll] probably just move to Pro Am and go after the championship next year. Anybody in Pro Am, watch out, here I come.”
Of the four divisions in 4-Stroke B, two Moto 1 winners podiumed overall. Illinois’ Dustin Rhymer was undefeated with a 1-1, while Kody Kropp took second with a 1-2 and Kyle Kropp went 2-3 for third. “I knew my brother was close by, and I couldn’t give up one foot,” Kody Kropp said. “I was ready for the white flag to come out; about all I could do.”
Garrett Greeves also finished first in his division, and an eighth place finish in Moto 2 scored sixth overall. After his division win, Adam Smith’s prediction for Moto 2 resulted in 1-16 for 11th overall. “There’s lot of competition out there,” Smith said. “The track’s getting really rough. The main tomorrow is going to be a lot more interesting.”
The 33rd Annual AMA Pro Racing Championship Awards Banquet will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday, November 18, 2007. The celebration held each year wraps up AMA Racing’s professional championship season. New for 2007, the evening will also see the recognition of the top riders from AMA Pro ATV Racing. The public is encouraged to attend the Pro Banquet. For ticket information visit www.amaproracing.com/banquet or call (614) 856-1900, ext. 1232.