During this year of uncertainty, negativity, politics, riots, and canceled events, I couldn’t have been happier watching the 2020 Loretta Lynn’s Amateur national. Watching the battles and heart showed made me completely forget about all the destruction 2020 has brought to our society. The storylines were plenty after day one, so I will run down some of the performances that caught my eye.
The most significant story is the return of the winningest rider to ever grace the Ranch, Kevin Walker. He had a decent professional career but somehow got faster as he aged; this had him racking up title after title at the Ranch until his personal life imploded. (link to story) In addition to what this story reports, it seemed like everyone around him had witnessed creepy behavior. I have mixed feelings about Walker returning; first, I commend anyone who faces their demons and pays their mistakes. I believe everyone who serves their time deserves a second chance, except sexual offenses and children.
(I can't help but commend him for facing the issues head on.)
Walker still has what it takes to run up front in the 50+ class as he led and eventually ended up third. After watching his podium speech in which he addressed his past issues, I have a hard time wanting him banned, but the father in me doesn’t think an amateur national is the best place for him. Kids camping and swimming all around isn’t the best environment for a convicted child pornographer. That’s a decision for the crew at MX Sports to make, and clearly, they will be watching him closely. (insert podium speech) Only Walker knows his intentions, and if the law and MX Sports are alright with him racing, I guess he deserves a second chance, but he better maintain more than a “social” distance from the kids.
(This picture says it all, Kris Keefer embracing his gorgeous wife Heather)
The feel-good story of the day belonged to the Keefer family, both Chris and his son Aden had career performances. Kris had a tough time at the Ranch a couple years ago but returned with a dominant win in the 40+ class. What’s is really cool about this trip is Kris seemed utterly focused on helping his son Aden. They genuinely represent everything good about the sport, it’s about a family experience and having fun. Both Kris and his wife Heather raise Aden with love and discipline, this should be celebrated! I first met the entire family a few years ago and quickly noticed the family dynamic, often Motocross kids can be spoiled, entitled little assholes, but they keep Aden grounded.
(Aden Keefer celebrating on the podium)
Aden charged from well outside the top 20 in the 250 C class and ended up in third. His riding style is impeccable, and while his speed isn’t on par with some of the “factory amateur’s” right now, he will grow and could be something special in this sport. When other kids are pitting out of factory rigs, the Keefer’s embrace the life lessons and positives the competition brings. I wish everyone would ditch the “factory amateur” programs and use the sport to teach their kids life lessons and bond over family time. The sport should be fun, 99 % of the participants at Loretta Lynn’s will never make a profit racing motorcycles. No matter if Aden becomes a superstar or not, his life lessons will ensure he is successful in whatever path he chooses.
If you haven’t been watching the races because you are working, just listen. I play the audio all day while I work. Hearing Jason Weigandt and Kevin Kelly call these races is pure gold! Kelly is so funny, and Weigandt is perfect with him, I enjoy their racing call more than any other announcers in any sport. These guys are indeed a great comedic duo, and I really like learning about the next generation of racers, and this is where I get most of my information. I don’t have time to watch every race, but hearing their call is usually sufficient. I go back and watch any racing that sounded exciting or see how my friends are doing.
(Sophia Phelps is representing Southern Utah with class)
A few locals, (Southern Utah/Southern Nevada) had some excellent runs on the first day. Sophia Phelps finished a strong 4th in the girls (11-16), she looked good and with a little luck will end up on the podium. Staying with the girls, Taylor Allred battled hard to a third in the Women’s open class and a guy I know from my days racing the Wild West Nationals back in the day, Rob Floth put in a fantastic ride in the 40 + class. He battled near the front all moto and ended up taking a solid 4th. Great job, everyone, keep having fun!
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