Evrett Clarke started the 2019 racing season on a high note, earning consistent podium results at both Spring A Ding Ding and the JS7 Freestone Spring Championship in March. The Utah native was slated for a successful year in the 65cc classes at Loretta’s, but an unfortunate and untimely injury forced him off of the bike until the final months of the season. Clarke made his return to racing at the AZ Open in December, switching the entirety of his focus to the younger 85cc divisions. He steadily worked his way back up to speed as he snagged a 5th place overall in the 85cc (9-11) Limited class in Arizona, seizing some momentum before the start of the offseason. Clarke stayed sharp throughout the winter with local races and Loretta Lynn Qualifiers before competing at Spring A Ding Ding in March, marking his first national-caliber race of the season. The rider out of Utah continued to impress in an insanely stacked 85cc division, earning a top ten overall in the 85cc (9-12) class as well as 5th overall in the 85cc (9-11) Limited class. Following the long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Clarke returned to action at the Deseret Peak Midwest Youth Regional where he finished on the podium in the 85cc (10-12) class in addition to a 4th place finish in the (10-12) Limited category, earning his tickets to the upcoming Loretta Lynn Amateur National Championship. We reached out to Evrett to find out what he did to pass the time during the lockdown, how he handled his layoff last year due to injury, and what he’s got coming up later this season.
What did you do during the few months that there was no racing happening as a result of the lockdown?
I don’t really remember, the first part seems to blend together, we hung out a lot at home and just relaxed. With moto, you stay really busy and always seem to be traveling so it was kinda nice to just chill at home. I did play Xbox though and I went on a lot of walks on the Jordan River Parkway with my grandpa and aunt. They live in the next county up and it was all completely locked down. My mom and I went mountain biking a lot, too!
Did you take some time off of riding when racing was initially canceled and postponed?
Yeah, when everything shut down there wasn’t anywhere for me to ride so I didn’t ride for about a month or so.
What was your riding situation like the last couple of months during the quarantine?
Once things started to open a little, our local series RMX was able to hold some practices on the weekends. We rode those as much as possible. It was kinda weird though, they had to take our temperature and we had to stay in our camps and not go around anyone, but at least we were able to start riding again!
What do you enjoy away from motocross?
I like to go to the skate park sometimes but I really like to go mountain biking and to the pump tracks around here. We’ve got a lot of that and I just got my new mountain bike! I really like going to movies too, and getting popcorn and candy…when my parents let me…but we haven’t been able to do that since the lockdown.
Tell us about the injury last year that kept you sidelined during Loretta’s and Ponca and the challenge of overcoming that.
I broke my foot and it ended up putting me out for pretty much five months. At first, we were told it was just a small break in one bone, but when we went to the Dr. he sent us right to the Children’s Hospital cause it was a lot more than that. I had to have two surgeries because the attempt to put the bones back into the socket didn’t work. So I had surgery for an external fixator that kept the bones in place till the swelling went down a couple of weeks later. That was no fun! It was a huge cage stuck to my foot! My parents were pretty cautious and didn’t let me start racing again till I could walk pretty close to normal and I had the strength back in my leg. When I did race again it was kind of hard. I felt really off the pace and the kids I race had definitely gotten faster and I struggled to keep up. All I wanted to do was win one moto and I fought through and actually did. That was pretty helpful for me mentally but I knew after that race it was gonna take some time to get back up to pace. I was sort of down on myself and it took a bit to come back mentally. It’s crazy though because I broke my foot at Deseret Peak Complex and that is where I was just able to qualify for Loretta’s last weekend.
How was it switching all of your focus to the 85cc classes at the end of last season?
It wasn’t really too bad. I have been riding an 85 for a while and I got really tall last year. I knew it would be hard getting off the 65 early, but I was so big I wanted to stay safe and I liked riding the 85 better.
What was your first race back from injury at the AZ Open like?
The AZ Open was really hard. It was my first big race back and I was racing all the older kids. Even though I had raced them before I was still really intimidated. I wasn’t really prepared for that. I didn’t feel strong enough in my mind and I didn’t really feel physically strong enough either. It ended up being good that we went though, it was good to see what I needed to work on. When racing is hard, we try to find the good and see how I can get better and learn from it.
How did your weekend of racing go earlier this season at Spring A Ding Ding?
Spring A Ding Ding was better than AZ! I got good starts which always helps. I came away with a 5th and a 7th. I knew I could do better, and that wasn’t quite where I wanted to be, but I wasn’t too far off my goals for that race. I felt pretty happy with those results.
What do you think about the track layout at Underground MX?
I love the track at Underground! Even with all the rain this year, the track stayed pretty good! Some parts were slick, but mostly it was good. I am really glad we got to race it since all the lockdowns started right after that.
What’s your opinion on the Super Regional format for Loretta’s this year?
I was just really glad to be able to even try this year! Since I missed last year, and then not being sure what was going to happen this year, I am really happy that MX Sports and everyone made it so we could race! It was pretty cool too because a lot of kids showed up and we had divisions in the 85 (10-12) classes.
What was it like to finally be back on the gate at the Deseret Peak Regional?
It wasn’t as scary and stressful as I thought it was going to be. I felt pretty prepared actually. Once Utah gave the ok for our race series to start racing again we raced every weekend for a month or something! We raced at a few different tracks here and I feel like that was really helpful. I was really excited to be trying to qualify again and at a track close to home! We normally drive nine-plus hours to a Loretta's Qualifier but this year we were only an hour away. That was awesome!
How did the racing go at Deseret Peak from your perspective?
I feel like the racing was really good! The weather was terrible and windy on the first race day, so that was no fun. It was pretty sketchy trying to hit the jumps in the huge wind gusts but I just put my big boy pants on and just rode. My second moto finishes weren’t great. Someone went down in front of me on the start and I had to come from the back of a full gate. I was able to make passes and get up to 7th. The next class my start just wasn’t good but I got a 6th. In the third motos though, I just put my head down and did my best. I got both holeshots and stayed on two wheels and was able to get qualified! I was so happy!
Do you have any goals and expectations set for yourself going to Loretta Lynn’s this year?
I really want to win and I know everyone does, but that’s my goal and I’m gonna work hard over the next month to try and achieve that.
Have you thought about what you’ll do after Loretta’s heading into 2021 in terms of what classes you’ll be racing?
I will still be 12 next year so my main focus will be the 85 (10-12) classes. I think I’ll do some Mini Sr. classes if I can, but my main focus will be the 85 12-year-old classes. I don’t think I’ll be racing a supermini yet.