By Jody Weisel

This is the number that matters…and it isn’t permanent.

Most of you haven’t been in the sport long enough to remember when AMA National numbers were based on how you finished the year before?instead of the current crackpot formula. I was opposed to changing the numbering system back in the day, but if there is one thing I have learned from dealing with the powers-that-be over the years, it is that the AMA and its alphabet cronies are the only people in the world who create problems and congratulate themselves when they fix them…or come up with a good excuse not to try…and so it is with the AMA National numbers. 

Let’s be serious, some moron at the AMA thinks that NASCAR riders have permanent numbers. So, 20 years ago they decided that motocross riders should be just like NASCAR guys. The only problem? NASCAR drivers don’t have permanent numbers. Instead, NASCAR teams have permanent numbers for their cars…and when they hire a rider he changes to the team’s number.

So, even though the AMA numbering system was based on some alphabet organization’s stupidity?it is still implemented today. And it is a porous mess that no one understands, but everyone goes along with.


Broc Tickle (20) gets to run the number 1 plate in the 2012 AMA 250 West series, except that Broc pointed out of 250 Supercross and has to move to the 450 class?where he will be number 25. In total points Tickle actually earned 21. His previous number 20 goes to Justin Barcia because Eli Tomac earned number 13, but didn’t want 13, so he took 17, which meant that Barcia had to choose a new number so he took Tickle’s 20, which forced Tickle to take 25?which was Ryan Sipes’ number (Sipes will be 53).

How does it work? Let’s see, there are a permanent top nine (why not top ten?) numbers for former AMA National Champions, but they don’t have to take them.

There are also permanent numbers for riders who just did their jobs?and either deserve a better number or a worse number based on season points. Why a rider who made the top ten in total points gets a permanent number is a mystery, but they do. But, they don’t get to keep their permanent number if they don’t earn 25 points in the following season?which means that the permanent number isn’t all that permanent.

Then, the AMA hands out numbers to riders based on how many AMA points they earned (what we like to think of as the “actual AMA National numbers”), but none of these numbers actually jive with the rider’s actual place in the pecking order of the sport. They are all off by one or two places (and they leave some guys off totally because they don’t like their licenses). Plus, once you add in the former National Champions and the permanent numbers, the earned points are out-of-sync with the true number of points.

Why can’t AMA National numbers just be based on the rider’s actual National points?with number 1 going to the guy with the most points and number 99 going to the guy with the 99th most points? Because the AMA brain trust is neither brainy nor trustworthy. They just do things…and think of reasons why later.


I have nothing against giving former National Champions a number from 1 to 10 (it is an honor that they deserve), but did you know that the rider with number 10 isn’t a National Champion?because the AMA only reserves numbers 1 through 9 for National Champions. Why not ten? It would make more sense than nine?but then 10 isn’t a single-digit number…and under AMA rules only single digit numbers can be reserved for former National Champions.


This is actually the number that Ricky Carmichael would have worn for his whole career. It’s three places better than 4.

You hear this claptrap all the time about how the riders need permanent numbers so they can market themselves?then they point to Ricky Carmichael’s number 4 as a classic example of how a rider can be closely associated with his number. But, common sense would tell you that Ricky Carmichael would have worn number 1 in virtually every season that he raced…and, thus, could have been closely associated with that number. Additionally, under current AMA rules (where the Champion has to run number 1), Ricky never would have gotten to run number 4.

Answer this question. What marketing is connected to a rider and his number?apart from his website and jersey? The action figure market is dead…and the guys in suits at Mattel don’t know that riders even have numbers?they just know their names. No one is doing Wheaties boxes, Burger King ads or a Hugo Boss signature line. Face it, permanent numbers are just emotional perks that the AMA hands to its favored sons.

It may be permanent, but is it accurate?

How much money is Nick Wey reeling in because he is number 27? None is the correct answer. What would Nick’s real 2012 number be if he got a number based on points? 13. Kevin Windham would be 10, Davi Millsaps 12, Andrew Short 8, Tyla Rattray 6 and, amazingly, Justin Barcia would earn 17 (which was his number in 2011, but will be Eli Tomac’s number in 2012?although on actual AMA National points Eli would be 14). Does your brain hurt yet?   

The AMA flounders with this system year after year. They don’t even know why they do it, except because that is the way they have always done it (unless you count the first 30 years of motocross). You could ask the AMA why they use this stupid system, but they won’t return your phone call…or will say that they “will get back to you with that answer,” or better yet, they will say, “that is the way NASCAR does it.”

As a former AMA National Champion Doug Henry could have selected a single-digit number. He didn’t want to and instead chose number 19 (and even used it when he raced Snocross). To keep number 19, Doug has to earn 25 points every season, which following his injury isn’t possible. Number 19 now belongs to Kyle Cunningham (whose actual National number should be 15, but 250 Champion Dean Wilson chose 15 instead of a single-digit number). The available single-digit numbers are 4, 6 and 8.

1. Ryan Villopoto (450 MX/SX)
1. Dean Wilson (250 MX)
1. Broc Tickle (250 West)
1. Justin Barcia (250 East)
2. Ryan Villopoto (will not be used in 2012)
3. Mike Brown
5. Ryan Dungey
7. James Stewart
9. Ivan Tedesco
10. Justin Brayton
11. Kyle Chisholm
12. Blake Baggett
14. Kevin Windham
15. Dean Wilson
16. John Dowd
17. Eli Tomac
18. Davi Millsaps
19. Kyle Cunningham
20. Justin Barcia
21. Jake Weimer
22. Chad Reed
23. Gareth Swanepoel
24. Brett Metcalfe
25. Broc Tickle
26. Michael Byrne
27. Nick Wey
28. Tyla Rattray
29. Andrew Short
30. Alex Martin
31. Martin Davalos
32. Tommy Hahn
33. Josh Grant
34. Cole Seely
35. Darryn Durham
36. Kyle Regal
37. Malcolm Stewart
38. Marvin Musquin
39. Tye Simmonds
40. Gannon Audette
41. Trey Canard
42. Ricky Dietrich
43. Christian Craig
44. Jason Anderson
45. Nick Paluzzi
46. Les Smith
47. Chris Blose
48. Jimmy Albertson
49. Justin Bogle
50. Nico Izzi
51. Travis Baker
52. Ben Lamay
53. Ryan Sipes
54. Weston Peick
55. Lance Vincent
56. Austin Stroupe
57. Jake Canada
58. Will Hahn
59. Vince Friese
60. Matt Lemoine
61. Austin Howell
62. Travis Sewell
63. Colton Facciotti
64. Matt Boni
65. Ryan Morais
66. Jason Thomas
67. Scott Champion
68. Shane Sewell
69. Jimmy DeCotis
70. Ken Roczen
71. Kevin Rookstool
72. Jarred Browne
73. Joshua Clark
74. Tyler Bowers
75. Josh Hill
76. Calle Aspegren
77. Lowell Spangler
78. Tommy Weeck
79. Tyler Medaglia
80. Kyle Keylon
81. Robert Kiniry
82. Justin Sipes
83. Kyle Partridge
84. Killy Rusk
85. Robert Marshall
86. Taylor Futrell
87. Matt Goerke
88. Ben Evans
89. Tyler Bright
90. Bryce Vallee
91. Dalton Carlson
92. Hunter Clements
93. A.J. Catanzaro
94. Cole Siebler
95. Chris Plouffe
96. Kyle Peters
97. Jeremy Medaglia
98. Tye Hames
99. Sean Hackley
377. Christophe Pourcel
800. Mike Alessi
Notes: (1) The following riders had enough AMA points to get a top 99 number, but were bumped out by tie breakers: Dean Porter, Ricky Renner, Dan Reardon, Tevin Tapia, Johnny Moore and P. J. Larsen. (2) Eli Tomac earned number 13, but requested a different number and was given 17, and since 13 was not used this bumped Dean Porter out of the two-digit numbers. (3) Fredrik Noren would have been National number 64, but he raced under his Swedish FIM license and was not counted. (4) Numbers 4, 6 and 8 are still available to former National Champions, but the remaining eligible Champions opted out of the top nine; Dean Wilson took 15, Villopoto stuck with 2 and Chad Reed has invested in 22.

amaama nationalchad reedDOUG HENRYJAMES STEWARTjodymotocrossmotocross actionmxaryan dungeyryan villopoto