COLUMBUS, Ohio — The American Motorcyclist Association recognized its greatest champions and hardest-working organizers from the 2017 season on Jan. 20 during the AMA Championship Banquet at the Hilton Downtown Columbus in Columbus, Ohio.
"The AMA and our chartered clubs and promoters represent the most expansive sanctioned motorsports activity in the world," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. "The riders, racers and families in this room are the people who bring the passion, talent and dedication to make that possible.
Joseph Blasius and Rose Hayden
"The AMA is more than an event sanctioning body," Dingman continued. "We are the leading advocacy organization for motorcycling and ATV riding in America. We support all forms of motorcycling -- from organized events to casual riding. We protect the freedoms of motorcyclists and ATV riders from overreaching laws. We negotiate deals and discounts for our members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, we preserve the history of the sport. And when I say 'we,' I mean all of us -- including the AMA members in this room tonight."
The evening's program was emceed by Laurette Nicoll and Kevin Kelly.
Cody Webb of Royal Oaks, Calif., was recognized as the AMA Athlete of the Year from National Championship Series competition.
Webb earned the national No. 1 plate in the AMA Endurocross National Championship Series and the Extreme Enduro Pro class at the AMA Tennessee Knockout Extreme Enduro Grand Championship. He has won Tennessee Knockout five straight years.
In addition to his competition successes, Webb mentors younger riders.
"I was fortunate to be able to invite some of the up-and-coming riders in the sport to visit my home for a while," he said. "We rode together. And I think we learned from each other. It's a way to help keep this sport growing."
Attending the ceremony was Rose Hayden, the mother of 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, who tragically passed away in 2017. The Executive Committee of the AMA Board of Directors passed a resolution last year to name the prestigious AMA Horizon Awards after Nicky.
AMA Horizon Awards are presented to up-and-coming amateur racers in motocross, road racing and dirt track who demonstrate they have the talent, dedication and poise to excel in the professional ranks.
Nicky Hayden won the first AMA Horizon Award ever presented -- the 1997 AMA Dirt Track Horizon Award.
Mrs. Hayden presented the Nicky Hayden AMA Road Race Horizon Award to Joseph Blasius of Northville, Mich., and the Nicky Hayden AMA Dirt Track Horizon Award to Hunter Brooks of Escalon, Calif.
The 2017 AMA Athlete of the Year from Grand Championship events was Justin Cooper, AMA Motocross Horizon Award Winner and AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Cooper was unable to attend the banquet, but shared his gratitude in a video acceptance speech.
Tayla Jones, who moved to North Carolina from Australia last year, was announced as the AMA Female Racer of the Year. She was the 2017 WXC Champion from the AMSOIL AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, the Women's Pro Overall Champion from the AMA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Championship Series, and the Women's Elite Champion from the AMA National Enduro Championship Series.
"I couldn't have had a better year, really," Jones said. "It's been my dream since I was a little kid to race in America."
The 2017 AMA Vet Racer of the Year was Destry Abbott, who dominated his class in the 2017 AMA Endurocross National Championship Series. Abbott was unable to attend the banquet, but sent an acceptance video.
The 2017 AMA Youth Racer of the Year was Ty Masterpool, who is the Supermini 1 (12-15) Champion and Supermini 2 (13-16) Champion from the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Ty was not able to attend the ceremony.
Top-three finishers were recognized from six regional championships and 21 national championships, representing all disciplines of AMA-sanctioned competition.
In addition to the competition awards, in many years the AMA recognizes the AMA Sportsman of the Year. AMA Sportsmen of the Year may be ambassadors, competitors, promoters or others who go above and beyond to elevate the sport or demonstrate exceptional fairness or selflessness in AMA-sanctioned activity.
The 2017 AMA Sportsman of the Year was Jody Barry. At the Daytona 200 in March, a fellow rider crashed and was trapped under his burning motorcycle. Barry stopped, lifted the crashed bike and freed the rider.
"I had gone down, too, and I was going to get my bike when I saw him waving at me," said Barry, who was the 2016 recipient of the AMA Horizon Award in road racing. "I saw that his bike was on fire and he was stuck there, so I had to lift up the bike a little bit and drag him a little bit to get him free."
Sponsors and supporters of the 2017 AMA Championship Banquet included Brush Hero, Motion Pro, Maxima, Rocky Mountain ATV MC, IMS, Bridgestone, My Laps, Riders of Kawasaki, Feld Entertainment, Spot LLC, Iron Pony, Mechanics Wear and Ask Powersports.
Other award winners announced at the banquet were:
AMA Motocross Organizer of the Year
AMA Off-Road Organizer of the Year
North American Trials Council
AMA Track Racing Organizer of the Year
WERA Motorcycle Roadracing
AMA ATV Organizer of the Year
Western New York Off-Road Association
AMA Recreational Road Riding Organizer of the Year
Greater Akron M/C
AMA Recreational Off-Road Organizer of the Year
Penguins Motorcycle Club at Cal Poly
AMA Club of the Year
Christian Motorcyclists Association
AMA Media Award
Brian J. Nelson of Flagstaff, Ariz.
A gallery of photos from the event is available here: gallery.americanmotorcyclist.com/AMAMedia/2017-AMA-Championship-Banquet.