Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Prodigy

Motocross. Like all sports in general, the chances of becoming a professional are very slim. Even when you’ve made it, you’re so far from calling it a success.

The NFL has a league minimum salary of $610,000. The lowest paid NBA player makes over $700K and a handful of guys in Major League Baseball have signed contracts in the $300 Million range. Winning a 450 Supercross Main Event will pay $12,000. Every rider outside the top 6 takes home less than $3000 per main event. This means riders like Dean Wilson, Jason Anderson, Malcolm Stewart and so many more are racing in hopes of $50K a year in prize money. A very select few can make really good money, have a financially sound career and with outside or individual sponsors, they’ll leave the sport very well off. Ryan Dungey is listed to have a net worth of $8 Million. Dungey as an amateur would not have been your pick to come out of this sport as one of the most successful. Many riders seem destined for stardom as their amateur careers filled with National Championships and Factory Sponsorships seem to pave the way. 


As riders chase their dream of racing at The Loretta Lynn’s Ranch in Tennessee on the biggest stage of amateur motocross, I couldn’t help but think of riders who seemed like they had it all but turned out to be big question marks in the sport. 


Matt Boni- 

As an amateur Boni would claim 3 Loretta’s Titles, including the 2006 250 Pro Sport Championship. 

He’d go on to a pro career that lasted from 2007 to 2011 of mostly fighting for too 10’s. Unlike most on this list he would have one race in the spotlight, when he’d podium the 2008 Daytona Supercross mudder.


Josh Lichtle-

Maybe one of the most liked kids in the pits, growing up playing practical jokes if the helmet wasn’t on. Lichtle was the definition of mini star, although he actually only snagged 1 Loretta Lynn’s title.

At the professional level he’d battle injuries and poor results would bounce him around as a privateer. He’d fail to ever crack the top 10 in Supercross and a career best of 25th at the 2005 High Point National would top his motocross results. Unfortunately, Josh would suffer a heat stoke at RedBud in 2011 that would claim his life.


Evan Laughridge-

Evan quickly became a Suzuki phenom and seemed like he had a head full of steam headed into the pro ranks. In 2002 he’d claim Loretta’s championships in both the 125A Pro and 250 Open A classes.

Racing professional from 2002-2005 he’d be struggling for top 20 results. His final professional race would also bring his career best result of 10th overall.


Racer X Photo



Scott Simon-

Scott is actually one that I personally thought had it all as an amateur. He claimed 2 Loretta’s titles as a member of Kawasaki’s Team Green, 1 of those being the 2005 250 Open A Championship. 

He’d go on to race only 4 professional races in 2007 with a career best of 18th overall at Glen Helen after 12-33 moto scores.


Ben Riddle-

Maybe one of the most fun amateurs to watch, Riddle would jump anything and had a never quit mentality. After winning the 125B and 250B Loretta’s titles in 1999, he came back in 2000 to claim the 125A and 250A Championships. With 5 total Loretta Lynn’s Titles, Ben seemed ready for the big leagues. 

A short professional career from 2000-2002 was highlighted with a 9th in the 2001 Atlanta 125 East Supercross and 17th overall at the Budds Creek National, the only time he’d crack the top 20.


Bryan Johnson-

The Yamaha supported rider seemed to always be in the right place at the right time. He’d claim his second Loretta’s title in 2003 with the 125A Championship. 

Racing professionally from 2004 to 2009 he’d score his career best Supercross finish at the 2005 San Francisco race with a 6th. However the motocross series wasn’t as kind and with 32 career races, Johnson only cracked the top 20 once. He’d go 10-33 for 17th overall at the 2004 Unadilla National.


PJ Larsen-

A top Kawasaki prospect, Larsen would claim the 2007 Motocross A Loretta Lynn’s Title and come back in 2008 to win the Motocross Pro Sport Championship.

From 2008 to 2014 PJ actually had some of the better results from riders in this article. In 2011 he’d just miss the podium at the Toronto Supercross with a 4th in 250 East. Outdoors he’d score two 9th overalls in 2009 at Budds Creek and Hangtown.


Joey Crown-

Crown was always in the Championship talks as an amateur and would end with 3 Loretta Lynn’s titles to his resume. In 2017, his final trip to the Ranch, he’d finish 2nd in the Pro Sport class behind Justin Cooper.

Professionally, Crown has be injury struck and sidelined more often than not. Career best results of 7th in 250 Supercross and a 13th at Southwick 2018.



Racer X Photo



Travis Pastrana-

I’ll end on this one and maybe not a name you’d expect to see in this group. A 5 time Loretta Lynn’s Champion. After winning the 1999 250 Open A Championship, Travis seemed like he’d be a professional title contender for years to come. 

Okay, so his professional career seemed to roll right from his amateur dominance. In his first pro season he’d earn the 2000 125 Motocross Championship and follow it up the following year with a 125 East Supercross Title. However, his move to the 250 class seemed to take the wind out of his sails. Travis would battle some injuries and the struggle bus was real. He would never win a 250 Supercross and almost more devastating, Travis Pastrana never finished top 20 at a Pro National. However, Travis did find his path and is by far the most financially well off on this list. 



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