More than 25,000 fans jammed the motocross track to get a glimpse of the world’s top motocross racers. At the nationwide AMA Motocross Series, more than 120 racers in each event try to qualify for only 40 spots to make the days races in either the 450 Class or the 250 Class.
The racing did not disappoint. Local favorite Austin Howell (AMA Pro Number 61) qualified for this year’s event at Hangtown, showing good speed and determination in the timed practice sessions.
The races are broken up in a two-moto format in which the winner is based on the two highest scores for each moto. Howell’s first moto did not start as planned – he was pushed wide after just three corners and was forced off the track. In near last place of the 40 riders, Howell made his charge through the pack and worked his way up to 18th place. Then, as the 30-minute plus two-lap moto wore on, Howell started to fade a little and settled in to a comfortable pace.
Howell has been training hard and focusing on the Nationals to perform well at each event. Starting his racing odyssey at the age of 6 on a PW 50cc bike, with the support of his family he grew to excel at Motocross racing. One of Howell’s most memorable racing career highlights was winning the 450 Mod Pro class championship at the World Mini’s in 2010. He also went on to win the second moto of the Lites B Mod class at Loretta Lynn’s in 2008, placed fourth in the 250A/Pro Sport class and fifth in the 250A class at Loretta Lynn’s in 2009.
Howell also won the 250 two-stroke invitational race at Glen Helen at the first round of the Outdoor Motocross race in 2009. The second moto saw Howell in a battle against another local NorCal rider, Dustin Pipes (AMA Pro number 652). Pipes is no stranger to Motocross. His dad, Aaron Pipes, is a longtime Motocross Promoter of local NorCal racing. I have watched Pipes over the years improve his performance from a top amateur racer to now an AMA national pro. Pipes’ most notable accomplishments include entering the 2012 Supercross season as a rookie and placing second overall in the AMA Lake Whitney Amateur National Championship Open.
Back at the AMA Pro Motocross Championship in Rancho Cordova, the track was much rougher during the second moto. In the end, Howell finished a respectable 26th overall while Pipes came in at 29th overall. The inspiration and motivation for Howell and Pipes is to keep progressing in their Motocross careers and make it to the top spots on the podium. That means going head-to-head with top pros such as James Stewart, Ryan Dungey, Davi Millsaps, Mike Alessi, Brett Metcalfe, Andrew Short, Tommy Hahn and Jake Weimer.
Howell expressed gratitude to family and sponsors for their continued support: Rockstar Mikita Suzuki, Fox, Lightspeed, Pro-Circuit, Dragon Goggles, Hinson, Dunlop Tires, Sheehan Construction, and the Creson family. Pipes also thanks his family and the sponsors who make his racing career possible: Mishimoto, JT Racing USA, Suzuki, Clawson Motorsports, Race Tech, FMF, ODI Grips, Guts Racing, DT1 Airfilters, EKS Brand Goggles, Maxima, and Works Connection.
– Contributed by Mike Subocz