Soldotna’s Ryder Pietro, 17, got a taste of the big time from Aug. 1 to 5 at the 36th Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at the Loretta Lynn Ranch and Campground in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, and that taste has left him wanting more.
“I know I can run with the top guys,” Pietro said this week from Arizona, where he was prepping for some more high-level motocross races. “It was cool to go there, watch everyone and see what the future looks like.
“I was watching some big names that maybe, in the future, I could be racing against.”
Over 22,000 riders try for a spot at AMA Amateur Nationals, with just 1,446 earning qualifying spots.
Pietro, thanks to his extensive schedule of Lower 48 races, was able to secure a spot at AMA Amateur Nationals for the first time.
He raced at 250C and 450C, with each of those classes having 42 riders. At 250C, he finished ninth, 35th and 16th in the motos to take 20th overall. At 450C, he was 28th, 26th and 29th to take 28th overall.
While Pietro’s results at 450cc were understandable because he was riding a 250cc bike, the Soldotna rider was disappointed in his performance at 250C, where Devon Bates of Las Vegas, Nevada, took second overall.
“I’ve beaten him in California,” Pietro said of Bates. “It hurts me a little to know I could have been in the top 10.
“It was a different kind of racing there than everywhere else.”
Pietro said the racing is different because the field is so deep and talented, plus there is a lot more pressure because the races bring so much exposure.
The Soldotna rider started his 250C week with the ninth-place finish, but in his next race was 35th.
“I fell a couple of times and that just kind of messed me up,” he said.
Pietro was looking to bounce back in his next race, but he lost his rear brake during the race, causing him to fall to 16th place.
“I’m not discouraged at all,” Pietro said. “I still think I can improve a lot in the next few years.
“It was a pretty cool experience and we’ll see what happens next year.”