This just in from the AMA …
PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Sept. 10, 2003) — Brian Gray is the 2003 AMA Motocross/Supercross Rookie of the Year. The 18-year-old rider from Saint Augustine, Fla., burst onto the scene this summer with an outstanding showing in the 125 class of the AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship. Gray went from being a relatively unknown Suzuki amateur support rider to a full-fledged factory Suzuki rider this summer after turning in a surprising eighth overall in the 125 class at the Hangtown National in May. Gray follows riders like James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael and Tim Ferry in a growing tradition of rookies of the year from the Sunshine State of Florida.
Gray got his early inspiration to race motocross from his uncle, former pro motocrosser Alan Andreu. Starting in the Pee Wee class, Gray moved up the ranks of the ultra-competitive Florida amateur motocross circuit. At a young age he raced against the likes of other young mini riders such as Carmichael and Stewart. Gray’s breakthrough came when he earned a spot on Suzuki amateur motocross program in 2000. “That’s when I started thinking that maybe I could make a living at racing motocross,” Gray explained.
Gray’s initial taste of pro racing came when he qualified for the Steel City Motocross last year. It was at the Hangtown Classic in May where Gray shocked longtime motocross observers by taking eighth overall in the 125 class. In only his third pro race, Gray was able to crack the top 10.
“That was a big weekend for me,” Gray admitted. “And I guess you could say it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Suzuki had some injuries and I think because of my Hangtown result I was given the chance to ride with the factory Suzuki team.”
By the end of the 2003 AMA Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross campaign, Gray tallied an impressive five top-10 finishes. He ended the season ranked 15th in the 125 class. His best results of the year were seventh overall at Budds Creek, Md., in June and at the Steel City Motocross in Delmont, Pa., over Labor Day weekend.
Gray is one of a class of strong up-and-coming motocross and supercross riders in AMA professional competition.
“Broc Hepler, Bob Kiniry and a few other new guys like me are coming in and riding pretty strong,” Gray says. “I think the class of 2003 has a good chance to be remembered as one of the best rookie classes. I hope in a few years we’ll be up there challenging Ricky (Carmichael) and Bubba (Stewart).”
On the subject of why so many great riders are coming out of Florida in recent years, Gray cites the competition and the weather as major factors. “There are so many talented riders down here. And we grow up riding in the heat and I think that helps keep us from getting so tired in long motos.”
Gray will be formally presented as AMA Motocross/Supercross Rookie of the Year at the AMA Pro Awards Banquet in November. Gray is slated to return to race AMA 125 West Region Supercross and 125 Motocross again next year for the factory Suzuki squad.
The Motocross/Supercross Rookie of the Year is based on combined Supercross and Motocross points, and must be the rider’s first full year with an AMA professional motocross license.