By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Local driver qualifies for national motorcross event
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News
Wyman Darden just made his dream come true. The 32-year-old partner in Ultimate Boatworks of Cumming and dirt bike racer has qualified for the largest amateur motocross race in the world, the 27th annual Air Nautiques/AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships, held at country music legend Loretta Lynn’s ranch and campground in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

Darden took on over 20,000 hopefuls from across America to earn one of just 1,386 qualifying positions. Darden will be one of 40 racers at the gate in his 30-plus division, which will hold three motos between July 31 and Aug. 2 to determine the champion.

"The Amateur Nationals at Loretta Lynn’s is the event every motocross racer in the country wants to compete in," said event director Tim Cotter. "A win at the Amateur Nationals can serve as a springboard to a lucrative professional motocross career."

Most of America’s top professional motocrossers, including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath have won AMA Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn’s.

The race is so prestigious that last year, three teenaged stars — Elk City, Oklahoma’s Trey Canard; Saint Clair, Michigan’s Nico Izzi and Lincolnton, North Carolina’s Austin Stroupe — were awarded six-figure pro contracts after the race.

Darden said he took a trip to Michigan over Memorial Day weekend to compete — just as an insurance policy in case he was unable to qualify out of his home region.

"Sometimes the competition's a little less [up there], and it gives me a double chance to get [to Loretta Lynn's]," he said. "Typically, that's what you need to do to get into that race, because it's a tough one."

Several sponsors help pay Darden's way to the races. He has won over 30 races in the last five years, and competes nearly every weekend at various tracks around the state in Best In Georgia Series.

Darden will make the journey to Tennessee along with his mom and step dad, Cathy & Ed Watts, and his racing crew, Scott Brown and Rodney Johnson. It won't be his first trip, as he also qualified for the event a year ago, finishing sixth in his division. The top five finishers are all bumped up to the next skill class, Darden explained, so he considers himself something like a No. 1 seed this year, as the highest finisher from a year ago to return in the same division.

"I was the last guy who didn't get bumped [up]," he said.

Wyman is just one of the more than 20,000 people who spent the last few months qualifying for the event. The top finishers in area and regional qualifiers earn a berth into the national championship race. Racers may enter a wide variety of classes, from minicycle classes for children as young as four, all the way up to a senior division for riders over 45. There are also classes for women, as well as for both stock and modified bikes.

Darden has been riding dirtbikes since age 4 and has been a competitive racer for the past eight years. He says his prime racing years are behind him, but he'd still like to rack up enough points to qualify for the professional circuit — just to be able to call himself a pro.

Regardless of how far he's able to go in the sport, he doesn't plan on leaving the track anytime soon.

"It's a great stress reliever," he said. "When you get out there, the only thing you can really think about is the riding at hand, because if you don't, you'll end up on your butt."