The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) welcomed a full house of AMA champions and their families, friends and fans to the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, Nev., on Sunday, Nov. 20, for the AMA Visa Card from Capital One Racing Championship Banquet. The banquet celebrated racers' championship seasons and awarded a number of special awards that acknowledge the standout performances of top competitors.
Speaking at the banquet, Stan Simpson, the chairman of the AMA's Board of Directors, thanked all AMA racers for their contribution to making motorcycle racing the exciting sport it has become.
"On behalf of the board of directors of the American Motorcyclist Association, our AMA staff, and each and every AMA member, I congratulate all of you for your successful seasons," Simpson said, addressing the crowd. "Your skill and determination have earned you a place among this elite group of champions and taken you to the top of amateur racing. The AMA has its roots in amateur motorcycle racing. But not only are you our past, you also represent the future of motorcycling. You are the backbone of the AMA."
Hundreds of top competitors, in disciplines ranging from land-speed racing to motocross to woods racing and everything in between, received their national championship trophies and No. 1 plates at the banquet. Special awards included AMA Athlete of the Year honors.
Russell Bobbitt won the AMA National Champion Athlete of the Year award and beat out other nominees like Kurt Caselli and Pat Smage.
The AMA's highest competitive honor, the AMA Athlete of the Year, has evolved for 2011. The award now includes two categories of outstanding AMA racers. One award recognizes an athlete who stands atop an AMA National Championship Series, and another honors one of the amateur racers who has proven his mettle at an AMA Grand Championship event.
The AMA National Championship Athlete of the Year award was won by Russell Bobbitt, the overall champion of the 2011 AMA Racing Rekluse National Enduro Championship Series, presented by Moose Racing. Bobbitt won four rounds of the 10-round series. Notably, the FMF/KTM rider overcame a mid-season injury to battle back in the highly competitive series and ultimately dominate the final round in a must-win scenario to capture the title over his teammate and defending National Enduro Champion Charlie Mullins.
"I really didn't think I was going to get this at all," Bobbitt said. "I'm kind of blown away right now. With all the other nominees -- Kurt Caselli, Taddy (Blazusiak), Charlie (Mullins) and (Pat) Smage -- all those guys are really good. So many of them are on KTMs, and I just think it's amazing what everyone's accomplished. It was a great year for me. I'm really excited about this, but I want to congratulate all the other riders for their stellar years. I'm looking forward to next year. I know we have a great team behind us."
Daniel Bromley won the AMA Grand Championship Athlete of the Year Award. The Pennsylvania dirt-tracker has earned 36 AMA amateur national championships in his career. In 2011, his last season as an amateur, Bromley won the AMA Dirt Track Horizon Award; the 250cc Modified Two-Stroke, 250cc DTX Grand Championships; the 250cc DTX Short-Track, 250cc DTX TT, 250cc Modified Two-Stroke Short-Track, 250cc Modified Two-Stroke TT, and 251cc-500cc DTX TT National Championships. He also competed in the AMA Racing Winter Dirt Track Championship Series where he won the 250cc DTX championship.
The AMA Grand Championship Athlete award went to Daniel Bromley who has earned 36 AMA amateur national championship awards.
"I'm pretty speechless. It's a pretty big honor," said Bromley, who competes on KTM
motorcycles with his older brother, Joseph. "Having a brother to race and compete with is really helpful because he's out there helping me on the track, and I'm helping him. His lines are usually better than mine, so that helps. Having someone there supporting you on the track and off the track is really important. My goals for 2012 are to hit Daytona and most of the short-track and TTs. I want to make the (AMA Pro Racing) Pro Single mains because that's where it begins."
The AMA ATV Athlete of the Year Award was won by the most dominant rider in the history of XC2 Pro-Am class competition in the Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series
: Yamaha rider Walker Fowler. Fowler, of Rogers, Ohio, won every round of the off-road racing series against the fastest ATV riders in the country.
"It was just a crazy year for sure -- a dream season," Fowler said. "I don't think I'll ever be able to do it again. It's every racer's dream to be able to do something that no one else can. But there are a lot more goals in front of me that are the same thing, and that's what keeps us racers going. I just want to thank the AMA for giving us all these series to compete in and letting us go out and do what we do."
Grand National Cross Country Series also delivered the AMA Female Rider of the Year: KTM's Maria Forsberg, from Brier, Wash. Forsberg had a phenomenal year in the GNCC series, where she won 11 of 13 races in the Women's class.
AMA Veteran/Senior Rider of the Year was Tim Shephard. Shephard, of Sugar Grove, Ohio, was the AMA Senior Off-Road Vintage Grand Champion at the AMA Racing Vintage Grand Championships.
Austin Lee, the Super Mini National Champion from the AMA Racing East Hare Scrambles Championship Series, was the AMA Racing Youth Rider of the Year. Lee, from Bedford, Ind., won three rounds of the 10-round series.
The AMA Sportsman of the Year was presented to Claudia Danielewicz of Oxford, Mich. Danielewicz has been instrumental in advancing racing opportunities for women in AMA-sanctioned off-road competition.
"Claudia Danielewicz has been an AMA member and racer for more than 10 years, and she has helped change the face of female competition in off-road racing forever," said AMA Director of Racing Joe Bromley. "Claudia has been instrumental in helping to get more female riders active in AMA Racing. She has helped promoters align class structures so that we have a girls youth class, as well as a ranking system to move them up through the women's classes. She is the 2011 AMA Sportsman of the Year."
Other special awards included:
AMA Racing Media Award
Shan Moore, off-road photographer and reporter
Motocross Organizer of the Year
Feld Motor Sports, AMA Arenacross
Off-Road Organizer of the Year
Source Interlink Media, GEICO AMA EnduroCross Championship
Track Racing Organizer of the Year
Steve Nace Racing, Dirt Track
ATV Organizer of the Year
Racer Productions, Can-Am Grand National Cross Country Series
Recreational Road Riding Organizer of the Year
Sound Rider, Sportbike, Dual-Sport, Touring, Scooter Rallies
Recreational Off-Road Organizer of the Year
Dirty Dabbers, Great Adventure Dual Sport
Club of the Year
Cheaha Trail Riders