Heather Byrd wins Rider of the Year Award
Over 450 riders and their guests of the ITP/Moose Racing AMA ATV Motocross Championship gathered for the final time in 2009 at the annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Not only were the top 10 amateur riders in all 34 National classes honored on stage, but recipients of many special awards were in the spotlight as well.
All riders who demonstrated a remarkable season were taken into consideration for the Rider of the Year Award which has historically been awarded to a Pro or Pro-Am rider. Heather Byrd went undefeated for the second year in a row to take home her sixth championship title and earning her first Rider of the Year Award – a landmark in Women’s racing.
“It is an awesome award,” says Byrd. “I’ve been racing for 27 years and I’ve won multiple championships and this is probably the best award I’ve received. Women in racing have earned a lot of respect in the last decade and this really shows we are making leaps and bounds finally and people are seeing that we are doing the same things guys are, throwing a leg over a four wheeler. We are finally getting to where we need to be.”
The Hard Luck Award went to 90cc rider Cody Shelton and his father Mitchell when their motor-home caught fire on the way to the Birch Creek National, leaving them stranded on the side of the road. Fabian Gibson, father of Pro-Am Champion Cody Gibson, became the recipient of the Good Samaritan award for coming to the Shelton’s aide. Gibson not only helped the Shelton’s get to the race, but also returned to bring their possessions to the track.
“Fabian is the kind of guy that will notice stuff like that and stop and help people,” says Mitchell Shelton. “He’s just a good helpful guy and we really appreciated it.”
Freida Rozelle was presented with the “Heart of the Sport” Award for her incredible dedication despite being involved in a terrible car accident at the beginning of the season that left her paralyzed. Rozelle took the lead in organizing the Youth Contingency Program for the third year in a row, all while enduring surgeries and therapy.
The complete list of Special Awards from the evening include: • Hard Luck Award: Cody Shelton • Good Samaritan: Fabian Gibson • Heart of the Sport: Freida Rozelle • Most Improved Rider: Kayle Dyer • Sportsmanship Award: Chase Cunningham • Sponsor of the Year: Can-Am • Rough ‘N Ready Pit Crew: Rath Racing • Rookie of the Year: Joel Hetrick • Rider of the Year: Heather Byrd