American Motorcyclist March 2018
AMA Crowns Champions
2017’s Top Racers, Organizers Honored
2017 AMA Championship Banquet
Hundreds of racing enthusiasts came together in Columbus, Ohio, in January to celebrate the successes of the nation’s top racers and organizers at the AMA Championship Banquet.
Nearly 600 competitors, promoters and their supporters attended the event at the Hilton Downtown Columbus, where the AMA announced the winners of its top racing and organizer honors for the 2017 racing season.
Top-three finishers were recognized from six regional championships and 21 national championships, representing all disciplines of AMA-sanctioned competition.
Each champion in attendance was recognized onstage with a No. 1 plate, while others received a medal.
“The AMA and our chartered clubs and promoters represent the most expansive sanctioned motorsports activity in the world,” AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman told the crowd. “The riders, racers and families in this room are the people who bring the passion, talent and dedication to make that possible.
“The AMA is more than an event sanctioning body,” Dingman continued. “We are the leading advocacy organization for motorcycling and ATV riding in America. We support all forms of motorcycling—from organized events to casual riding. We protect the freedoms of motorcyclists and ATV riders from overreaching laws. We negotiate deals and discounts for our members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, we preserve the history of the sport. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean all of us.”
The evening’s program was hosted by Laurette Nicoll and Kevin Kelly.
Cody Webb of Royal Oaks, Calif., was named the AMA Athlete of the Year from National Championship Series competition.
Webb earned the national No. 1 plate in the AMA Endurocross National Championship Series and the Extreme Enduro Pro class, taking the AMA Tennessee Knockout Extreme Enduro Grand Championship. He has won the Tennessee Knockout five straight years.
In addition to his competition successes, Webb is mentoring younger riders.
“I was fortunate to be able to invite some of the up-and-coming riders in the sport to visit my home for a while,” he said. “We rode together. And I think we learned from each other. It’s a way to help keep this sport growing.”
Attending the ceremony was Rose Hayden, the mother of 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, who tragically passed away in 2017. The AMA Board of Directors Executive Committee passed a resolution last year to name the prestigious annual AMA Horizon Awards in Nicky Hayden’s memory.
Nicky Hayden won the first AMA Horizon Award ever presented—the 1997 AMA Dirt Track Horizon Award. Horizon awards recognize the amateur racers most poised for professional greatness.
Mrs. Hayden presented the 2017 Nicky Hayden AMA Road Race Horizon Award to Joseph Blasius of Northville, Mich., and the Nicky Hayden AMA Dirt Track Horizon Award to Hunter Brooks of Escalon, Calif.
The 2017 AMA Athlete of the Year from Grand Championship events was awarded to Justin Cooper, the 2017 AMA Motocross Horizon Award Winner and an AMA Amateur National Motocross Champion. Although Cooper was unable to attend the banquet, he shared his gratitude in a video acceptance speech.
Tayla Jones, who moved to North Carolina from Australia last year, was awarded the 2017 AMA Female Racer of the Year. She was the WXC Champion from the AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, the Women’s Pro Overall Champion from the AMA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Championship Series, and the Women’s Elite Champion from the AMA National Enduro Championship Series.
“I couldn’t have had a better year, really,” Jones said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to race in America.”
Destry Abbott was the 2017 AMA Vet Racer of the Year after sweeping all the rounds at the AMA Endurocross National Championship Series. Abbott was unable to attend the banquet, but sent a video acceptance speech.
The 2017 AMA Youth Racer of the Year was awarded to Ty Masterpool, the Supermini 1 (12-15) Champion, Supermini 2 (13-16) Champion and 2017 AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship.
Jody Barry was honored as the 2017 AMA Sportsman of the Year. At the Daytona 200 road race in March 2017, a fellow rider crashed and was trapped under his burning motorcycle. Barry lifted the crashed bike enough to free the rider.
“I had gone down, too, and I was going to get my bike when I saw him waving at me,” Barry said. “I saw that his bike was on fire and he was stuck there, so I had to lift up the bike a little bit and drag him a little bit to get him free.”
Sponsors and supporters of the 2017 AMA Championship Banquet included Brush Hero, Motion Pro, Maxima, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, IMS, Bridgestone, MyLaps, Riders of Kawasaki, Feld Entertainment, Spot LLC, Iron Pony, Mechanics Wear and Ask Powersports.
Other 2017 of-the-year award winners announced at the banquet were:
- AMA Motocross Organizer: 2X Promotions
- AMA Off-Road Organizer: North American Trials Council
- AMA Track Racing Organizer: WERA Motorcycle Roadracing
- AMA ATV Organizer: Western New York Off-Road Association
- AMA Recreational Road Riding Organizer: Greater Akron M/C
- AMA Recreational Off-Road Organizer: Penguins Motorcycle Club at Cal Poly
- AMA Club: Christian Motorcyclists Association
- AMA Media Award: Brian J. Nelson
Photos by Jeff Guciardo