National Champion

By JAMES A. ELLIS

The Leader-Herald

Earlier this year, Mayfield’s B.J. Smith raced his way to the AMSOIL National Arenacross Series East Coast Over 25 ProAm championship.

Along with earning the red No. 1E plate for his 250cc Yamaha, he qualified to race for the national championship on May 4 in Las Vegas.

Smith made the trip to Vegas and now has a new plate to display on his ride the white plate with a big black No. 1 on it with the title National Champion under it.

“The national plate is just such a prestigious plate to earn that when you get it, it is just such a great honor and accomplishment,” Smith said. “After the race, the other riders were high fiving me and then they told me I had to give a podium speech. You think you can handle it, but when it comes down to it you are just so excited you don’t know what to say. Then when they hand you the Number 1 plate, it is like is this for real?”

A veteran rider and champion on the Central New York Motocross Riders Association and a regular at Royal Mountain’s Wednesday night Monster Supercross events, Smith got off to a good start in Vegas.

He was among the fastest riders in practice, which gave him another break.

Scoring the most points among the champions in attendance, Smith earned the first choice of the starting gates.

“During practice [on Friday] we were one of the fastest, so it gave us a chance to see where we stood, and I after that I felt we were going to be very competitive,” he said. “It was the most technical track of the series with the triple, rhythm section and the whoops. There were a lot of people being taken away in practice. I just wanted to make it through practice without doing any damage.”

Smith studied the track and opted to start from a gate just to the starter’s right.

The choice paid off as he put his No. 188 in front, but he finished in third after opening up the bottom line in a turn, allowing riders to get by.

“I did get the hole-shot, which was big,” he said. “I kept telling myself to ride smart, and I did until two laps to go. I got wide in a corner; second place came in and took me out. I recovered quick enough to get back up to third. I was thinking we needed to get back in the top five to get a good gate pick. That got me fired-up; I should have won that race. I think that got me fired up for the rest of the weekend.”

Smith’s mechanic and trainer Brian Miller calmed Smith down after the race and prepped him for Sunday’s main event.

“I had over 25 family and friends there and I felt I disappointed them,” Smith said. “But my mechanic [Miller] told me to relax and have fun. He told me, ‘Just getting here, you have already won just coming from New York and traveling cross country to Las Vegas to race. Put a smile on your face and have some fun, and don’t think of that.”

Saturday, temperatures were in the 90s, so Smith took time to clear his head lying next to the South Point Resort and Casino pool.

Smith said everything set in, including nerves, on race day.

“It was one of the biggest races I have ever been in and getting the butterflies is normal,” he said. “No one picked the gate I had picked for the qualifier, so I felt good about that.”

While the riders lined up in the starting gate, the show was stopped for the crews to do some track maintenance.

“They stopped us before the race to do some track prep,” Smith said. “I was sitting there in the gate, shaking, and the guy next to me was from California. He started talking to me and asking where I was from. When I told him I was from New York, he goes ‘Wow, you came all this way just to race?” I just stopped thinking about the race and started talking with some other riders around me.”

When the gate dropped, Smith again got the hole-shot for the 10-lap main event.

“The start was outside the arena and nobody could see us start so it was played on a big screen,” he said. “The gate dropped and I got the hole shot again and when we came around the S-turn you could hear everybody yelling and it was great being first out of the tunnel. I said to myself, ‘This is it.’ When I came around to the finish line the first time, the guy in second was the reigning national champ. I knew he was going to make a run. I actually led from start to finish. I made a couple of mistakes but got away with them. With two laps to go, I told myself it was my race to win and when the white flag came out, I just told myself not to do something dumb. I think I had my best lap of the weekend on that last lap.”

As Smith launched off the catapult finish, fist pumping in the air, fireworks exploded and lights flashed for the new national champion.

“It was surreal. There really aren’t any words that can describe that feeling,” he said.

Smith quickly found his family and friends and sent texts out to fans back in New York who watched the events unfold on Facebook and on the arenacross web site.

After winning the championship Smith was able to laugh a little about an event that almost kept him from making the trip to Vegas.

“Just getting there was a task. Before I went, I shipped my bike out, and so I was worried about that getting there and was tracking it,” he said. “We went to fly out on Wednesday and the airline told us our flight was canceled. I was supposed to fly from Albany to Philadelphia and then to Vegas. But because of the flash floods they were having in Philadelphia, they shut down the airport. It was either find a flight the next day, but I had to be in Vegas to sign in on Thursday. So we flew to Charlotte and stayed there overnight then flew out to Vegas early the next morning. I was like this is not happening, but I made it to the arena in time and my bike also made it there in time, so that was great.”

Smith appreciates the help, support and sponsorships he has received from the Miller and Melita families, his grandmother, family and friends, especially his mother and father, Bernie and Barbara Smith. He is also helped out by sponsors Millers Fitness, Whitey’s Deli, Hart’s Motorsports, Buanno’s Body Shop, Barney’s Signs, Pine Lake Stoves, Fulton County Electric, Team Merica, One Industries, Six Six One, Smith Optics, Arai, Monster Energy, EVS, Ogio, Tag, Sunline and Yoshimura.

By JAMES A. ELLIS

The Leader-Herald

Earlier this year, Mayfield’s B.J. Smith raced his way to the AMSOIL National Arenacross Series East Coast Over 25 ProAm championship.

Along with earning the red No. 1E plate for his 250cc Yamaha, he qualified to race for the national championship on May 4 in Las Vegas.

Smith made the trip to Vegas and now has a new plate to display on his ride the white plate with a big black No. 1 on it with the title National Champion under it.

“The national plate is just such a prestigious plate to earn that when you get it, it is just such a great honor and accomplishment,” Smith said. “After the race, the other riders were high fiving me and then they told me I had to give a podium speech. You think you can handle it, but when it comes down to it you are just so excited you don’t know what to say. Then when they hand you the Number 1 plate, it is like is this for real?”

A veteran rider and champion on the Central New York Motocross Riders Association and a regular at Royal Mountain’s Wednesday night Monster Supercross events, Smith got off to a good start in Vegas.

He was among the fastest riders in practice, which gave him another break.

Scoring the most points among the champions in attendance, Smith earned the first choice of the starting gates.

“During practice [on Friday] we were one of the fastest, so it gave us a chance to see where we stood, and I after that I felt we were going to be very competitive,” he said. “It was the most technical track of the series with the triple, rhythm section and the whoops. There were a lot of people being taken away in practice. I just wanted to make it through practice without doing any damage.”

Smith studied the track and opted to start from a gate just to the starter’s right.

The choice paid off as he put his No. 188 in front, but he finished in third after opening up the bottom line in a turn, allowing riders to get by.

“I did get the hole-shot, which was big,” he said. “I kept telling myself to ride smart, and I did until two laps to go. I got wide in a corner; second place came in and took me out. I recovered quick enough to get back up to third. I was thinking we needed to get back in the top five to get a good gate pick. That got me fired-up; I should have won that race. I think that got me fired up for the rest of the weekend.”

Smith’s mechanic and trainer Brian Miller calmed Smith down after the race and prepped him for Sunday’s main event.

“I had over 25 family and friends there and I felt I disappointed them,” Smith said. “But my mechanic [Miller] told me to relax and have fun. He told me, ‘Just getting here, you have already won just coming from New York and traveling cross country to Las Vegas to race. Put a smile on your face and have some fun, and don’t think of that.”

Saturday, temperatures were in the 90s, so Smith took time to clear his head lying next to the South Point Resort and Casino pool.

Smith said everything set in, including nerves, on race day.

“It was one of the biggest races I have ever been in and getting the butterflies is normal,” he said. “No one picked the gate I had picked for the qualifier, so I felt good about that.”

While the riders lined up in the starting gate, the show was stopped for the crews to do some track maintenance.

“They stopped us before the race to do some track prep,” Smith said. “I was sitting there in the gate, shaking, and the guy next to me was from California. He started talking to me and asking where I was from. When I told him I was from New York, he goes ‘Wow, you came all this way just to race?” I just stopped thinking about the race and started talking with some other riders around me.”

When the gate dropped, Smith again got the hole-shot for the 10-lap main event.

“The start was outside the arena and nobody could see us start so it was played on a big screen,” he said. “The gate dropped and I got the hole shot again and when we came around the S-turn you could hear everybody yelling and it was great being first out of the tunnel. I said to myself, ‘This is it.’ When I came around to the finish line the first time, the guy in second was the reigning national champ. I knew he was going to make a run. I actually led from start to finish. I made a couple of mistakes but got away with them. With two laps to go, I told myself it was my race to win and when the white flag came out, I just told myself not to do something dumb. I think I had my best lap of the weekend on that last lap.”

As Smith launched off the catapult finish, fist pumping in the air, fireworks exploded and lights flashed for the new national champion.

“It was surreal. There really aren’t any words that can describe that feeling,” he said.

Smith quickly found his family and friends and sent texts out to fans back in New York who watched the events unfold on Facebook and on the arenacross web site.

After winning the championship Smith was able to laugh a little about an event that almost kept him from making the trip to Vegas.

“Just getting there was a task. Before I went, I shipped my bike out, and so I was worried about that getting there and was tracking it,” he said. “We went to fly out on Wednesday and the airline told us our flight was canceled. I was supposed to fly from Albany to Philadelphia and then to Vegas. But because of the flash floods they were having in Philadelphia, they shut down the airport. It was either find a flight the next day, but I had to be in Vegas to sign in on Thursday. So we flew to Charlotte and stayed there overnight then flew out to Vegas early the next morning. I was like this is not happening, but I made it to the arena in time and my bike also made it there in time, so that was great.”

Smith appreciates the help, support and sponsorships he has received from the Miller and Melita families, his grandmother, family and friends, especially his mother and father, Bernie and Barbara Smith. He is also helped out by sponsors Millers Fitness, Whitey’s Deli, Hart’s Motorsports, Buanno’s Body Shop, Barney’s Signs, Pine Lake Stoves, Fulton County Electric, Team Merica, One Industries, Six Six One, Smith Optics, Arai, Monster Energy, EVS, Ogio, Tag, Sunline and Yoshimura.