Wetumpka resident Matt McLing, 15, qualified for the 39th annual Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship to be held in August. 

Wetumpka’s Michael McLing just made his dreams come true once again. The 15-year-old dirt bike racer has qualified for the largest amateur motocross race in the world, the 39th annual Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, to be held Aug. 3-8 at the historic Loretta Lynn Ranch.

McLing took on nearly 20,000 hopefuls from across America to earn one of just 1,512 qualifying positions. This is the third time McLing will be making this trip.

“The Amateur National at Loretta Lynn’s is the best of the best motocrossers in America and around the world,” MX Sports director Tim Cotter said in a release. “Just being here makes you an elite racer and a top athlete. A solid finish at Loretta’s would you give you instant National recognition and a possible professional career.”

Most of America’s top professional motocross racers, including James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Ryan Dungey, have won AMA Amateur National titles at Loretta Lynn’s.

McLing, who is a sophomore at Edgewood, has been riding dirt bikes since he was 7 years old. McLing is a member of the Edgewood varsity football team and Motocross Christian Athletes. When not racing or training McLing enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time with his family and friends.

With the help of sponsors such as M&M Construction, Alabama Precision Transmission, Parrish Air, Alabama Better Built Homes, Mike and Tomi Selby Sullivan Pallets, Bell Helmets, Thor, Dunlop, MXTire, MotoSport, PR2 Suspension, Illusive Gloves, DT1 Filters, Motul, Mika Metals who help pay his way to the races, McLing has had the opportunity to pursue his dreams. 

He has won many races in the last eight years and competes nearly every weekend at local tracks like Monster Mountain located in Tallassee, Crossbones MX in Billingsley, and Millcreek MX in Pell City. This year, McLing has raced across the country in Louisiana, Indiana, Georgia and Florida, where he punched his 2020 Loretta’s ticket.

McLing will make the long journey to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, along with his parents Mac and Sandy McLing. The race runs July 30 through Aug. 3. McLing and his family will be camping onsite for the weeklong event and will participate in many non-racing evening activities.

McLing is just one of nearly 20,000 racers across the country who spent the last four months qualifying for the event. The top finishers in Area Qualifiers and Regional Championships earn a gate position in the National Championship race at Loretta Lynn’s. 

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 50. There are also classes for women and classes for both stock and modified machines. In total, there are 36 different classes of competition. McLing will compete in the highly competitive School Boy 1 and School Boy 2 classes.

The track is built on a section of Loretta Lynn Ranch and Campground in Hurricane Mills. The course contains a variety of jumps, corners and other obstacles designed to test the skills and stamina of the racers. 

The motocross track is used only once a year for motorcycles, so there is no hometown advantage. Racers compete in three 15- to 20-minute races over the course of the week per class, sometimes in grueling temperatures. Proper training and preparation are paramount.

Most riders attend the event with the help of their families. In fact, many consider the event their family’s summer trip, nicknaming it the “World’s Greatest Motocross Vacation.” Besides the races, the weeklong event hosts many family-friendly activities, including swimming, talent show, concerts, and live entertainment.

The race action will be broadcast live daily at for a total of 40 hours of live coverage. In addition, highlight shows featuring the event will air on NBC Sports Network in the fall.