By Dylan Keller
Hidden in the farmland of Northeast Tennessee, Muddy Creek Raceway has become a landmark in national motocross (MX) as the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship made it’s fourth stop in the tour schedule that starts in California and ends in Indiana. Many top factory racing teams, privateers and amateurs joined several thousand fans in anticipation of crowning a new Muddy Creek Champion last weekend.
The weekend marked Sam Gammon’s third year of letting MX sports take the grounds for the Tennessee National at Muddy Creek, and the fans benefitted not only from the hospitality and hard work of the Victory Sports crew, but also pristine racing conditions.
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey spoke, saying Northeast Tennessee has long been known for racing on pavement, but the Muddy Creek National has become second to none in racing on dirt, adding, “We absolutely love it.”
Victory Sports has promoted motocross events for many years before the National considered coming to the Tri-Cities. One special pro rider out of Abingdon, Va., attended these events. Zach Osborne, now riding for Rockstar Husqvarna, received a very warm welcome as he returned to the place where it all started.
Osborne had started riding a motorcycle near the age of five and began racing when he was seven. Osborne soon raced a PW 50 at the Appalachian Fairgrounds in the supercross series hosted by Victory Sports. Osborne’s career started coming together at only eight years old when he made it to the Loretta Lynn AMA National Motocross Championship and placed third.
Osborne signed his first contract at the age of 12, and has raced professionally in the U.S. and Europe, the highlight being a British Championship.
Osborne has already achieved success this year with a season best second place in Thunder Valley, Colorado. After the first three rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series, Osborne has never felt more at home than at Muddy Creek Raceway.
“I’ve felt like I’ve raced here hundreds of times,” he said. “It’s my home track.”
One of Osborne’s family members recalls him loading up his bikes when he was only 3, saying he wanted to go to Muddy Creek.
Zach’s most memorable time at Muddy Creek was when he turned amateur pro in 2005. Osborne says, “It’s cool just to have a race of this caliber here, and have a real home race.”
When asked what Osborne thinks about racing locally, he said it felt like, “a million people were hanging over the fence for me.”
Osborne finished ninth for the weekend.
Many local amateurs call Muddy Creek, “home.” Eager fans went to the track Saturday to watch top local riders including Ryan Dungey, Ken Roczen, Jeremy Martin, and Zach Osborne.
After all the hard racing, it was Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey who withstood the treacherous track conditions for 35 minutes and took the overall win for the day in the 450 class. Barely coming up short was Soaring Eagle Suzuki’s Ken Roczen. Roczen won the second heat, but finished second overall. Rockstar Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson was the next most consistent rider, coming in 2nd and 4th in his motos. Anderson would finish third overall for the weekend.
The 250 class provided racing just as exciting with many amateurs making their debut. Last year’s motocross champion, Rockstar Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin gave his competitors a challenging day with a second and first place finishes in his two motos, putting him on the top step of the podium for the day.
Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin won the first moto, but could not find the drive to catch Martin in the second. Musquin took second place overall. Troy Lee Designs Lucas Oil KTM’s Jessy Nelson became a handful for Musquin and Martin, but fell behind for a third place overall finish.
Photos by Tim Keller. See photo galleries at tkellerphotography.com.