The country’s best amateur motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle racers from the track, trail, desert and everywhere in between were honored at the American Motorcyclist Association Championship Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Aladdin Event & Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio. More than 700 competitors and fans attended the banquet, which celebrated the 2013 racing season and announced the recipients of several special awards.
AMA President & CEO, Rob Dingman, congratulated the AMA racers and their families on a successful year and thanked them for their contributions to the sport of motorcycling.
"Each of you is here tonight because you love competition," Dingman said. "You have earned the right to be here because you have excelled in your racing discipline, or you have made it possible for a family member or friend to succeed thanks to your support. You, and the hundreds of thousands of AMA racers who came before you, make this sport what it is today. Since 1924, racers of all backgrounds and skill levels have competed in AMA-sanctioned events and have contributed to the collective wisdom, passion and talent that has shaped our sport."
Laurette Nicoll and Greg White emceed the banquet, which awarded national championship trophies, placement medals and AMA No. 1 plates to competitors in more than a dozen AMA-sanctioned disciplines.
The AMA’s highest competitive honors, the AMA Athlete of the Year Awards, recognize a rider from each of the two categories of national championship competition: AMA National Championship Series and AMA Grand Championships.
The late Kurt Caselli, the overall champion of the 2013 AMA FMF/GPR Hare & Hound National Championship Series, won the AMA National Championship Series Athlete of the Year Award. The 2013 title was Caselli’s third overall AMA Hare & Hound National Championship. Caselli, who was poised to transition to world motorcycle rally racing in 2014, passed away while competing in the Baja 1000 in November 2013.
"On behalf of myself and the family, we want to say thank you so much for all the support we’ve been getting, and thank you so much for selecting Kurt for the AMA National Championship Series Athlete of the Year," said Sarah Jean White, Caselli’s fiancée, who accepted the award on his behalf on a recorded video message. "That is such a huge deal, and Kurt would be so honored to accept this award."
Jeffery Lowery won the AMA Grand Championship Athlete of the Year Award. Lowery, from Newark, Ohio, was the AMA Dirt Track Horizon Award Winner in 2013, winning AMA national titles in the 251-500cc DTX class and the 450cc Modified class at the AMA Dirt Track Grand Championships in Springfield, Ill.
"It’s a true honor to represent dirt track," Lowery said. "It’s great to get the recognition for everything that we do and all the great racing that goes on in dirt track motorcycle racing. There are so many great people who have come through the sport of dirt track. It’s just such a great thing to be involved with."
Hannah Hodges was the AMA Female Rider of the Year. Hodges, from DeLand, Fla., was the Girls Sr. (12-16) class champion at the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship.
"This award is really cool," Hodges said. "AMA is really big, with so many different disciplines. I’m just happy to be a part of it. I want to be the first girl to qualify for a men’s AMA Pro Motocross National some day."
Aiden Tijero was the AMA Racing Youth Rider of the Year. The Ripon, Calif., resident was the 65cc (10-11) Limited class champion at the 2013 AMA Red Bull Amateur National Motocross Championships, Presented by Amsoil. Tijero also was the 65cc World Champion at the 2013 FIM Jr. Motocross World Championships.
"This is one of the biggest awards you could get," Tijero said. "I can look back at it when I’m older, like my dad’s age, and I can say, ‘I remember this so much like it was yesterday,’ and that’s how I want it to be. I want to remember everything about this. I love this sport. It’s my favorite sport."
The AMA ATV Athlete of the Year Award was won by Brett Musick, the 2013 Pro-Am champion in the AMA ATV Motocross National Championship Series. The Verdunille, W.Va., resident finished on top of a highly competitive field to win the 2013 title.
AMA Veteran/Senior Rider of the Year was Steve Ellis from Irvine, Calif. Ellis was the Vintage Super Senior A and the Vintage 201-250cc A class champion in the AMA Vintage Motocross National Championship Series.
The AMA also presented the AMA Sportsman of the Year award. This award recognizes a racer, former racer or individual who has gone above and beyond to transcend their role for the betterment of the sport of motorcycle competition. The 2013 AMA Sportsman of the Year award was presented to longtime AMA International Six Days Enduro Team organizer and volunteer, Richard "Gunny" Claypoole. Claypoole recently retired from what has been a decades-long commitment to put the U.S. on top of the world’s most prestigious off-road team championship.
Other special awards included:
AMA Media Award – Mark Kariya
Motocross Organizer of the Year – Feld Motor Sports
Off-Road Organizer of the Year – East Coast Enduro Association
Track Racing Organizer of the Year – American Sportbike Racing Association
ATV Organizer of the Year – Michael Coburn Racing
Recreational Road Riding Organizer of the Year – Laconia Motorcycle Week
Recreational Off-Road Organizer of the Year – Tri County MC
AMA Club of the Year – Polka Dots Michigan
(Photos: Jeff Guciardo/American Motorcyclist Association)