DREAM ACCOMPLISHED: FROM HAWAII TO LORETTA LYNN’S AMATEUR NATIONAL
DREAM ACCOMPLISHED: BRIAN MEDEIROS GOES FROM HAWAII, TO CALIFORNIA TO THE 2020 LORETTA LYNN AMATEUR NATIONAL
By Brian Medeiros
Photos by Santiago Alcalde (@MXART_CL)
Growing up on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, the motocross community was small. We had one motocross track that was only open on the weekends. I rode that one track almost every weekend from the age of 5 through 18. Motocross for me was always just a hobby. Although I followed the sport a lot and bought a new motocross magazine from the local news stand every chance I got, I never thought I would be where I am today in this sport. I remember when I was in the fourth grade, I would go to the library and watch motocross videos on the computer during lunch because my family did not have a computer at the time. I remember coming across a video from the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National and telling my parents about it when I got home that day. We travelled twice a year to the other islands for the state championship races but that was about it. My parents had no idea what Loretta Lynn’s was or even how to try to qualify for that matter. As I got older my parents split up and things changed, but one thing that did not change was my dream to make it to the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National someday.
It was not until 2013 that I would finally have my chance. I had just graduated high school in May of 2012 and was working a full-time construction job when I learned that there would be a Loretta Lynn Southwest area qualifier on the island of Oahu. Just one island over from mine. I convinced my dad to put my bike on the barge and ship it over so we could go race it. I signed up for the 250 and 450 C classes and was able to qualify for the regional that was going to be held in Anza, California. At the area qualifier on Oahu I had met Brian Dominguez. He was over on the island from Northern California with his family on vacation when he learned that there was going to be a qualifier, he borrowed a bike from my uncle to race it. After talking and hanging out with Brian and his family all weekend, he invited me to come stay at his house to prepare for the regional qualifier in 3 months’ time. Now that I was 18, I was able to make my own decisions so I took the money that I had saved up from working construction to send my 2013 RM-Z 250 to California as well as have a one way plane ticket and $500 in my pocket. At that point I had never been out of the state of Hawaii and had no idea what the future held.
Upon my arrival to California I began riding and training with Brian to prepare for the regional qualifier as well as working with a construction company that he also worked for to afford to stay. After a few months of riding and training in Northern California, it was time to head down south for the regional qualifier. Luckily for me my uncle Phil Oveland was also heading down to the regional qualifier from Northern California. He offered to split the gas with me and take me down there because at this point, I still didn’t have a vehicle. I was shocked at how fast everyone was at the regional qualifier. That was my first time ever lining up on a 40-man gate and I was terrified. Even with my fear, I ended up getting the holeshot in my first moto and finished the race in third. I could not believe it. I knew I had to get into the top four overall positions to qualify and I was on my way to doing so. In the second moto I got off to a third-place start and all I had to do was finish there and I would be in. Up until this point I had never ridden a track this rough and it bit me. Going up the face of a jump, I hit a kicker that sent me over the handlebars. When I landed, I knew that something did not feel right. My arm felt like it was asleep. My shoulder was out of place. Luckily for me my immediate reaction was to use my other arm to lift it up and it popped right back into place but by then it was already too late. I remember sitting there on the side of the track thinking it was over and I was heading back home to Hawaii. After the race we headed back up to Brian’s house and he told me that I was more than welcome to stay at his house to heal up and keep riding and training. I was excited to say the least. I thought to myself maybe this is not over, I will have another shot at it. After a few weeks of healing I was back on the bike training at the track.
This is where I meet another friend by the name of Jordyn Scalvini. He was a fast-local Pro that travelled between Northern California and Southern California for riding and racing. He offered to take me on a weeklong trip with him down to Southern California to do some riding and training, so I took the offer. We stayed with Austin Howell that week and had a blast. Austin and I became close friends and he told me that he was going to move into a house with Dennis Stapleton. It turned out that my uncle Phil also knew Dennis and put in a good word for me. After six months of living in Northern California, I found myself moving all my stuff down to the Stapo MX Compound where I would live and work for the next six years.
Throughout the years of living with Dennis, I got to meet the Motocross Action wrecking crew. If it were not for Dennis and everyone at MXA I do not think I would be where I am today. They helped me tremendously with bikes to ride when mine was broken and they’ve introduced me to a lot of good people. I was able to accomplish goals that seemed out of reach during my time there, like obtaining my Pro Motocross license and qualifying for an outdoor AMA National but there was still one that I did not achieve and that was Loretta Lynn’s.
The ten commandments section at Loretta’s is one of the most popular features of the track. Some years they are rolled over enough to skim across them like whoops, but most of the time, riders are jumping through them like a rhythm section.
2020 started off like every other year for me. My plan was to work, ride, and train to get ready for upcoming pro motocross series. Now that I am 25 years old, I rode a lot of local races including a Loretta Lynn’s area qualifier in the 25-plus class to get some extra gate drops to stay ready in case a schedule came out for the AMA Nationals. I qualified for the regional qualifier in the 25-plus class, but I did not think much of it because everything was still up in the air due to Covid-19. As time went on, the AMA National schedule was still unclear, but there was going to be a super-regional held at Fox Raceway for the Loretta Lynn’s amateur national. Immediately I decided to race it, there was no other racing going on and I was not sure if Loretta Lynn’s was going to happen, but I wanted to race.
At the super-regional I finished third overall and punched my ticket to the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National aboard Motocross Action Magazine’s 2020 YZ450F. Once I got to hold that ticket in my hand it hit me, I finally was able to check that goal off my list and say that I achieved what I set out to do years before. The Monday after the regional qualifier I purchased a 2020 YZ450F that was going to be my race bike for the ranch. To help get the bike dialed in for me, I added a Pro Circuit T-6 titanium exhaust system, FCP engine mounts, Hoosier tires, X-trig triple clamps, Bud Racing titanium foot pegs, and WP Cone Valve forks paired up with a Trax shock. These parts and pieces molded my stock YZ450F into a bike that I was comfortable with.
I have recently taken over the Southern California division of TBT Racing Suspension and that is what I have been doing full-time. Luckily for me, Kelly Andris and his group from Chile were also heading out to the ranch with a truck and trailer and had space for my bike. This saved me twenty-seven hours of driving each way, allowing me to stay in California for a few extra days to work. I flew into Nashville Tennessee the Friday before the national, got in the rental car and made the hour drive to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
Pulling into the Loretta Lynn track I was amazed, the emotions hit me of finally being there to race after dreaming of that moment as a kid. This year we got extremely lucky with the weather; no rain was in the forecast for the whole week. One thing that did stand out immediately was the humidity, averaging at 90-percent all week, it was hot. However, it did not affect me as much as I thought it would. Once I got settled in at the track, I decided to walk it. My first impression was that it looked tight; tighter than it looks in the videos I have seen. They also had the track ripped deep, so I knew it was going to get rough, but I was in for the challenge.
Since I had only signed up to do one class, when Monday practice rolled around, I had one fifteen-minute session to learn the track. I felt good right away and was able to do all the jumps by my third lap. After practice I made a gearing change going from a 49-tooth rear sprocket to a 50 to stay in third gear around most of the track besides the really tight corners. My first moto was not until 4:30pm Tuesday afternoon so I had lots of time to check things out. I strolled the pits Tuesday morning and it amazed me to see so many motorhomes there with riders of all ages. It felt like it was a big family atmosphere, until you got to the starting line that is. When my moto rolled around, I lined up in my gate and the nerves hit me, it was intense. So intense that I went to give the guy next to me a fist bump and say good luck and he just looked at me and looked away. I got off to a terrible start in that moto and finished 30th in moto one. I was shocked at how rough the track was. You get one sight lap before your moto and I struggled with getting warmed up in just one lap and going straight into race pace.
Moto two was scheduled for Thursday at 11:00 am so I had a day to rest, recover, and watch other classes to see what lines were best. I got off the line better in moto two but was still mid pack. Though the second and third corner there are rollers that have ruts all the way up them. The dirt was still soft at that point and the guy in front of me cross rutted and fell over the backside. I ran right into his downed bike and watched the pack go by. Once I got going, I found some better lines throughout the whole track and was able to do the two-three-three-two combination in the ten commandments in traffic to make up time. My moto two result was another 30th place.
Moto three was at 8:00am Saturday morning. There was only one moto ahead of us, so the track was going to be smoother than it was all week. On the sight lap the track conditions reminded me of the first practice at a Pro National. The air was cool, and the dirt was sticky with plenty of moisture. 30th gate pick was not ideal for this moto, I was on the outside and the line the guy next to me made on his sight lap practice start crossed over mine five feet out of the gate, so it had me nervous. I knew I needed to get the jump on him so he could not shut the door on me and that is what I did. Unfortunately, as soon as my rear wheel went over the gate the front end came up on me and I had to double clutch and that was all the space he needed to come over on me. I came around the first corner in 35th but made my way to 20th by the half-way point of our 20-minute moto. This is where things went south, while doing the two-three-three-two rhythm combination in the ten commandments, I hit false neutral between the first and second triple and my front wheel went right into the face and went over the bars. I hit my head and was sore. I remounted and circulated the track to finish 39th in that moto bringing my overall finish to 34th.
All in all, this trip was an awesome experience. I had a blast. Although I did not do good results wise. I felt like I learned a lot and have a better idea on how the whole program runs and what to do so I can improve on my results next time. I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me make this happen. I really appreciate it. If there is anyone out there that has the dream of going to Loretta Lynn’s I encourage you to go for it. I have met so many people that I can now call friends and would do it all over again in a heartbeat!