By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
One of 15 young riders from across the United States, eight-year-old Joseph “Joey” Vicari, an Oxford resident, was the lone participant from the state of Michigan in the KTM Junior Supercross Series at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Saturday, January 23.
Surrounded by thousands of fans inside the venue, which is known for housing the National Football League’s Houston Texans, and more watching on the National Broadcasting Company Sports Network (NBCSN), Joey, starting fourth and battling the other 14 riders, was able to stay on the throttle and snag the inside line, jumping out to the lead as the pack rounded the first corner.
Showing a calmness and poise beyond his years, he finished the three-lap race, which was the same course the professionals ran earlier in the day, in third-place.
For this strong showing, Vicari earned a spot on the podium, where he was accompanied by his parents, Dominic and Jaclyn. He was also interviewed on the 14,548.7-square-foot video screen, the third-largest among NFL stadiums, where he told the crowd his favorite part of the track was the sand section because of how beat up and challenging it was.
This event was also notable for being the first time an electric dirt bike, the 2021 KTM SX-E 5, was used in the 22-year history of the Junior Racing Program. Traditionally, these bikes are powered by gasoline.
Earning a spot in this race required Joey to check all the boxes in a thorough application process, one that factored in more than just a young rider’s ability at the controls.
“It was quite a process, took about a day of work,” shared Dominic, who rolled Joey’s dirt bike in for him and managed his pit.
“You had to send KTM their report cards, they had to have good standing report cards. They had to have raced with AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) for one year, which we did, and you had to submit videos of them racing, of them starting a race, and you had to take a video of an interview of why they wanted to race and send it to them.”
Joey, who is being homeschooled this year, allowing him the flexibility to continue training and pursuing his motocross goals, began riding when he was five years old, in 2018, and just completed his first year of competition.
Since wrapping up in Houston, the Vicari family, which consists of two other children, a six-year-old daughter, who is an equestrian, and a four-year-old son, has been staying in South Carolina, where Joey is training at ClubMx in Chesterfield in preparation for his upcoming competitions beginning in March.
The goal is to qualify for the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee in early-August, which is held on the family ranch of Loretta Lynn, the most awarded woman in country music history.
“It’s a huge facility, they got like nine tracks, different practice areas for the kids, and they do camps and all different stuff,” Dominic said of ClubMx.
“So, he’s down here with his coach, who’s a local guy out of Metamora, his name is Matt Crown. His son races Supercross professionally right now, Joey Crown.
“He takes a group of kids to come down here for six weeks before the start of the season in Michigan, which starts at the end of March, so we’ll be here until then and head back home and get back into Supercross racing.”
Once late-March rolls around, Joey’s schedule will allow him and the family to see several different areas of the country as he works toward concluding the season in Tennessee.
“The way that it works is they have different area qualifiers where you have to come in the top-six to be able to go to the next round, it’s a three-round thing. Each round, they take the top-six kids, and they move onto the next round and compete against other kids and they narrow it down.
“We’ll be going to different tracks around Michigan, from the Grand Rapids area to Baja (in Millington), but we’re also doing tracks outside of Michigan. We’re going to Wisconsin, we’ll be going to Daytona, Florida, we’ll be going to Texas, so, just kind of all over.”
Representing Andiamo Mx Racing, Joey receives sponsorship from the Metro Detroit Italian restaurants, as well as MCR Suspension and Magic Racing, a supplier of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and dirt bike accessories and parts in Shelby Township.
A high-definition, 46-second video, presented by Yamaha Racing, of the track at NRG Stadium is available at racerxonline.com, for those interested in seeing the course Joey traversed.
By Teddy Rydquist