Axel Ward (courtesy of Crystal Ward)
CULLMAN – Five-year-old Cullman dirt bike racer Axel Ward has qualified for the largest amateur motocross race in the world, the 37th Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, presented by Lucas Oil, to be held July 30-Aug. 4 at the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. Ward took on more than 22,000 hopefuls from across America to earn one of just 1,446 qualifying positions.
“The Amateur National at Loretta Lynn’s is the best of the best motocrossers in America and around the world,” said Tim Cotter, director of MX Sports. “Just being here makes you an elite racer and a top athlete. A solid finish at Loretta’s would you give you instant National recognition and a possible professional career.”
Most of America’s top professional motocross racers, including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Ryan Dungey, have won AMA Amateur National titles at Loretta Lynn’s.
Ward, who will attend Cullman Primary School in August as a kindergartner, has been riding dirt bikes since he was 4 years old.
Ward and his dad, Chad Ward, both qualified to race the Amateur National at Loretta Lynn’s this year. Chad was just injured in a dirt-bike wreck and can no longer race at Loretta’s. Chad, a former pro, raced professionally for more than 10 years and cannot wait for his son to get to race like he did as a child.
“It’s huge, I mean I’ve done this for about 11 years so just seeing him get into it and love it is awesome for me because it’s been such a big part of my life,” Chad Ward said. “I’ve always dreamed of having a little boy that rode, you know.”
For Chad, being part of the motocross community is every bit as exciting for him as a parent as it was a racer.
“I love it. For me, I’m getting to live my dream twice I guess and getting to watch him; man, it brings a lot of enjoyment to me and my wife,” he said. “I’ve never seen any parents get more into anything than motocross. It’s a pretty awesome community.”
This year has been busy and exciting for the Ward family and it’s still not over, but Chad is keeping the future in mind.
“Next year brings bigger bikes and you know I can see things just as far as natural ability so I’m being really patient with him as far as where he’s going to be in the future,” he said. “I think this is something that he can go as far as he wants to go and to be able to see that natural ability is pretty amazing.”
Axel will be ready to go for the National Motocross Championship at the end of the month, but it’s important to Chad that this trip is about enjoying the experience and the exposure to higher competition.
“We’re really not going to set any expectations for the national. I would love to say we’re going to win, but next year is when I would say we’ll win and this year is good to get the experience and have fun.”
With the help of sponsors such as Scott Goggles, FXR gear, Chad Ward, Inc., and mom and dad who help pay his way to the races, Axel Ward has had the opportunity to pursue his dreams. He has won multiple races in the last year and competes nearly every weekend at local races, as well in races across the country in Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas, Tennessee and Ohio. Ward is the 2018 Alabama State Champion in the 4-6-year-old shaft drive class in Arenacross.
Ward will make the long journey to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee along with his mom, Crystal, his dad and his sisters, Hazel and Jaylee. The race runs July 30 through August 4. Ward and his family will be camping onsite for the week-long event and will participate in many non-racing evening activities.
Ward is just one of the over 22,000 racers across the country who spent the last four months qualifying for the event. The top finishers in Area Qualifiers and Regional Championships earn a gate position in the National Championship race at Loretta Lynn’s. Racers may enter a wide variety of classes, from minicycle classes for children as young as four, all the way up to a senior division for riders over 50. There are also classes for women and classes for both stock and modified machines. In total, there are 35 different classes of competition. Ward will compete in the highly competitive 51cc (4-6) Shaft Dr Limited class. Ward will wear the number 32 as his national number on his jersey.
The track is built on a section of Loretta Lynn Ranch and Campground in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. The course contains a variety of jumps, corners and other obstacles designed to test the skills and stamina of the racers. The motocross track is used only once a year for motorcycles, so there is no hometown advantage. Racers compete in three 15-20-minute races over the course of the week per class, sometimes in grueling temperatures. Proper training and preparation are paramount.
Most riders attend the event with the help of their families. In fact, many consider the event their family support summer trip, nicknaming it the “World’s Greatest Motocross Vacation.” Besides the races, the week-long event hosts many family-friendly activities, including swimming, talent show, concerts, and live entertainment.
The race action will be broadcast live daily at www.RacerTV.com, July 30 through August 4, for a total of 40 hours of live coverage. In addition, two highlight shows featuring the event will air on NBC Sports Network in the fall.
For additional information on the Amateur National, visit the official website at www.mxsports.com or call (304) 284-0101. Also, follow the official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for exclusive content and to catch the latest news.
About the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship
The Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship is the world's largest and most prestigious amateur motocross racing program. The national qualifying program consists of 57 Area Qualifiers (February through May) and 13 Regional Championships (May through June), hosted at select motocross facilities across the country. The qualifying system culminates in the National Final (first week in August) hosted annually since 1982 at the home of country music star Loretta Lynn in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. Nearly 22,000 racers attempt to qualify in 35 classes for the 1,446 available positions at the National. Christened "The World's Greatest Motocross Vacation", the National event serves as a launch pad for some of the biggest names in professional motocross and supercross, including Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, and Ryan Dungey. The national program is produced by MX Sports, Inc., a West Virginia-based race production company and sanctioned by AMA. For more information, please visit www.mxsports.com.
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world's largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders' interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit -www.americanmotorcyclist.com. Not a member? Join the AMA today: www.americanmotorcyclist.com/membership/join.
Copyright 2018 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.