Oct 01, 2009, From a press release issued by Next Moto Champion Executive Producer Jon Boucher
Motorcycle racing fans can't help but have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. AMA Supersport and Superbike racing comes to a close, SBK will wrap up their season by the end of next month and MotoGP becomes a faded image on our High Definition flat screens as they pack up their rigs and give the fastest humans on two wheels a rest after the race on November 8th. It never seems like a long enough season for some of us. Anticipating and watching the races, buying your tickets and finding that perfect spot on the infield - will have to wait. Post race discussions about riders, bikes and racing action in a language that only true fanatics can understand, must be put on hold with only an empty void to take its place.
So what's there to love? Back before the beloved MotoGP, SBK and AMA - before the million dollar contracts, million dollar bikes, and 320 million fans tuning in World wide to watch - there was motorcycle racing in the simplest form. It's hard to imagine but before Rossi was the G.O.A.T and Kenny was the "King", they were youth road racers practicing roll speed on tracks that were less than a mile long. They were pushing the limits, testing, learning and crashing only to get back up on the bike and try it again. The same heart and determination that helped them to become World Champions and make a living doing what they love, also helped them to cross the finish line when they were 12 years old. Youth road racing in a stock class isn't just the most fun a kid can have on two wheels but the first step for hundreds of World Champions. A stock class breaks racing down to the lowest common denominator - the heart, drive and determination of the rider. This time of year gives fans their first glimpse of soon to be Champions that have the potential to be the future stars of AMA, SBK and MotoGP.
As most of this year's Professional motorcycle racing Championships have been decided the youth road racing championship points leaders won't have the luxury of relaxing anytime soon. There's so much talent on the grid that this year's championships are coming down to an all out fight to the finish with 1st and 2nd place being separated by the smallest margins. The rider vs. rider competition in these standardized classes is more about talent and less about which bike has the best modifications. The stock 150 cc 4 stroke on a 125 chassis or the 85 cc 2 strokes on the same chassis can be the best youth road racing bikes to watch prior to the 125/250 USGPRU level. If you wanted to get an inside look at who's on the road to becoming the next two wheel super star, start with SCminiGP and CMRA.
Southern California mini GP is a baby compared to the 39 years of road racing that CMRA has, but in the 5 years since its' conception and the recent acquisition of Northern California's SMRRC, the club has quickly grown to become the largest youth road racing organization on the West coast. Both organizations fall under the umbrella of YRRUSA which has the intentions of taking its program to a national level. SMRRC and SCminiGP have produced outstanding talent, most recently Benny Solis Jr., Cameron Beaubier, Austin Dehaven, Ryan Matters and Lex Hartl who were chosen for the Red Bull Rookie's Cup. Other Sponsored riders to come out of these clubs include Elena Myers, Bobby Fong, Drew Price and AMA Daytona Sportbike rider Tommy Aquino.
This year, SCminiGP's Pro Extreme and Pro GP classes will add a couple more names to that list starting with 13 year old Hunter "Big Game" Coffin. Hunter dominates the Pro Extreme class on his Honda RS 150 with a 48 point lead and has the chance to take the Pro GP Championship as well if he's able to grab the top spot in each of the last 3 races this season. Coffin, an Arizona transplant, moved to California for one purpose - to pursue his passion and dream of becoming a professional motorcycle racer. To Hunter, "riding a motorcycle is a spiritual experience like no other" and it shows; this kid is in love with motorcycle racing, extremely talented and definitely one to watch. Guarding the Pro GP Championship is point's leader Tyler "The Law" Linders. With hopes of showing some resemblance to SBK rider Ben Spies, when Tyler finds his rhythm he'll take the Pro GP win and the Pro Extreme win in the same day. On some days Tyler Linders is almost impossible to beat but with the stiff competition in this class, you can't win every race and he leads by a small 8 point margin with Hunter Coffin and Daytona Anderson in the Hunt. If the season ended today, Daytona Anderson would take SCminiGP's number 1 plate and overall championship. Last year he took the 50 lite Championship and then made the switch from super motard to a RS 150 in a 125 chassis without blinking an eye. Four races later he crossed the finish line in first place as he won the Pro GP class at Grange Motor circuit. In Pro GP, Daytona is 1 point ahead of Hunter Coffin and 8 points behind Tyler Linders as the season winds down to the final 3 races. Years from now these 13 year old warriors will be reminiscing about pursuing the 2009 Pro GP Championship, a pursuit that defined them as motorcycle racers and propelled their careers to the next level.
CMRA has produced more American motorcycle racing talent than all other US clubs combined. Nicky Haden, Colin Edwards, Ben Spies, Tommy Hayden, Roger Lee Hayden, Freddie Spencer and Kevin Schwantz are just some of the names recorded in the CMRA record books but who's next? This season, 3 youth road racers riding 150 cc and 85 cc machines have become visible contenders. Even after a bad get off earlier in the season, 13 year old Brandon Altmeyer is a force to be reckoned with on his RS 85. Racing at the Expert level, the word "Quit" isn't in his vocabulary, heart and determination fuel his fire as each race he continues to put it on the box. Austin Gore, also racing as an expert is one of CMRA's top youth road racers. Austin's CRF150 and RS60 have allowed him to improve on his natural ability to go fast; definitely one to watch. Last but not least is a novice rider who won't be in the novice class for long. Sam Carey's cornering ability and throttle control at 12 years old, makes people take notice. His CRF150 and TTR110 along with the seat time he's getting at CMRA have taught him the necessary skills required to twist the throttle and push the limits.
Fill your motorcycle racing void with youth road racing and you'll be amazed at what these 10 - 14 year old kids can do. If you've never seen future talent on the track, check these riders out at http://www.nextmotochampion.com This way when one of these next moto champions make it to the big leagues it allows one to say "I knew him when..." Keep an eye on the future stars mentioned in this article as they fight to the finish of this season and continue their success next year.
There's another rider that fans should keep an eye on next year, the comeback kid and five time national champion in 2008 - Peter Lenz. After a nasty crash in May at PIR, Peter's season was cut short but we know he'll be back, he's done it before. "Peter lost a little seat time and a little weight while being off his motorcycle for the past couple months" said Peter's father Michael Lenz. Now that Peter's close to being fully recovered he'll be ready to get reacquainted with his dirt bike during the off season and back to his championship winning ways in no time and is expected to be a serious contender on his 125 for next year. Speaking of next year there's one more piece of exciting news that youth road racing fans can look forward to. Phil Herrin has acquired SEMRA; changes and details of his new program have not been released but as a life long racer and racing Dad, you know his program will have a major focus on youth road racing. This is a great opportunity for emerging talent on the east coast and great for the sport of youth road racing as he supports the teaching, development and fundamentals that this sport is built on.
NEXT MOTO CHAMPION