Uriah Wood made a name for himself in the late stages of the 2019 racing season, putting himself in the spotlight at some of the biggest races of the year. The Michigan native scored a 5th place finish in the second moto of the 51cc (7-8) Limited class at the Loretta Lynn Amateur National Motocross Championship, overcoming a 13th place in the opening moto in order to clinch a 7th place overall. Wood carried that momentum back to his home state of Michigan for the one and only Baja Brawl about a month later, showcasing his supreme speed in the sandy soil of Millington. He swept all three motos in the 51cc (4-8) Open Limited class in order to take the number one plate and he also finished two out of three motos on the box in the 51cc (7-8) Limited class, proving he has undeniable speed on the smaller bike. Nonetheless, Wood has decided to make the step up to the 65cc classes for the 2020 season and hopes to continue his forward progress as he comes to grips with the bigger bike. We caught up with Uriah to talk about how he’s been handling the full-time transition to the 65cc classes, how he’s been staying entertained during the lockdown, and his plans for the remainder of the season.
What did you do during the few months that there was no racing happening with the coronavirus lockdown in effect?
I played a lot of Fortnite and had to finish my schooling online. We got to ride at our track some, but it wasn't as much as I wanted to.
Did you take some time off of riding when racing was initially canceled and postponed back in March?
We didn't ride as much as we normally do, but we still tried to ride some. My brother Berick got to ride more than I did. Shortly after we had the track rebuilt for the year I had a crash where I went over the bars and injured both thumbs and wrists, so I had to sit-out until I felt good again.
What was your riding situation like the last couple of months during the quarantine?
Well, over the winter I had grown quite a bit so when I hopped on my bike it was clear that it was no longer set up for me. We made a lot of changes to it and I started feeling comfortable again, but then I had my accident at our track and it really set me back. We didn't know if racing was even happening this year so my dad thought the time off would be fine and there was plenty of time.
What do you like to do for fun and entertainment outside of motocross?
Mostly I like to play video games and swim in our pond with my friends. I really like playing Fortnite. We also have a zipline over our pond that makes swimming a lot of fun after jumping off! We do that a lot. Oh, and pit bike riding! I love riding those with my brother, but my dad has to work on them a lot because we keep breaking them.
Take us through your week at Loretta’s last year, finishing in 7th place overall in the 51cc (7-8) Limited class.
I had really prepared a lot, more than previous years and was feeling confident. My first moto, a kid went down in front of me and we got tangled up together so I didn't finish my best that moto. I think it was 12th. So, I had to try and make it up in the other two motos. Even though 7th overall wasn't bad, it was also not what I was hoping to get. I really wanted to get another podium finish like in 2017, but these other kids are really fast!
What was your weekend of racing like at the Baja Brawl last year?
It was a lot of fun! The Baja Brawl is our family's favorite event and my favorite track to race. After Loretta's, it's always a fun time when the pressure is gone to just go have fun racing. I always have fun at Baja with racing and all the other activities they have. I really love their pit bike track!
Talk about sweeping all three motos in the 51cc Open class.
Sweeping my class against all the other fast riders was surprising to me. I thought I could win but didn't think that I'd be able to sweep the motos. In my other 50 class, my chain got clogged with sand and I lost a moto because my bike stopped moving. My dad said it was his fault for putting the wrong chain lube on it though.
What do you think about the track layout at Baja Acres?
Baja is so different from other tracks that I have ridden because of all the sand. It has really taught me how to carry my speed and stand up more. Sand is my favorite now. We don't get to ride it a lot, but it is still my favorite when we get to go to any sand tracks.
How has the full-time transition to the 65cc classes been for you this year?
Moving up to the 65's takes more work since the bike is heavier and with the shifting. Since I gained height and weight over the winter it was easier than expected. I like racing the 65 and have been riding an 85 more recently, but I can't quite touch yet.
What do you normally do during the winter months in Michigan to stay sharp on the bike?
During the winter, I wrestle for my school to try and stay in shape. We also travel south to Georgia and Alabama a few times to try and get riding time in. Everyone up here does that a lot over the winter months. There are a couple of indoor places that we travel to that are only a couple hours away. It's really cold though and I can't stand the cold.
What’s your opinion on the Super Regional format for Loretta’s this year?
It was kind of confusing for us. We didn't know you could sign up for two Regionals and heard from friends that you could only sign up for one, so we knew it was going to be very tough. Especially with how little I have gotten to ride since I got hurt in April. Then we found out you could sign up for a second one, but the classes were already full. It has been a weird year. I don't mind the new way they had to do it. It's just different.
What was it like to finally be back on the gate at the Mid-East Youth Regional at Baja?
I was really nervous for my Regional! I knew it was on my favorite track but wasn't sure how ready I would be with how weak my hands and wrists still felt from my injury. I love racing with full gates and we haven't had those since the Baja Brawl last year. It did not go as planned at all, but I will be back to how I was soon.
Do you have any goals and expectations set for yourself going to Loretta Lynn’s this year?
Well, I haven't made it just yet! The Baja regional was full of crashes and mechanicals for me, so I am very nervous to see if I can make it out of another one coming up. If I do make it I will have to ride my bike a lot more so that I can get all the strength back that I had before. I really want to go back to Loretta's this year and will be sad if I don't get to.
Have you thought about what you’ll do after Loretta’s heading into 2021 in terms of what classes you’ll be racing?
Since I just turned 10 today (June 22), I have to move up to the 65 (10-11) class for next year. But my dad thinks I may be getting too big for the 65 already so we've been riding an 85, too. I really love riding the 85s more and feel way more comfortable on them. So I wouldn't be surprised that this will be my last year in the 65 classes already. I hope not though!