On October 4, 2022, legendary country music singer and songwriter Loretta Lynn died at her beloved home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. She was 90 years old, and passed peacefully in her sleep, according to her family. Her career spanned 60 unforgettable years, and the sheer number of lives that she touched with her music is probably uncountable.
That’s before you start to talk about how she played a large part in making American motocross what it is today. The AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship—through which many of the best and brightest stars over the decades have come up—has made Loretta Lynn’s Ranch its heart since 1982.
As the story goes, Lynn and her husband Mooney wanted a wide-open country home to raise their six children in, way back in 1966. After Lynn spotted a beautiful white house on a hill, surrounded by nature, she knew that was what she wanted. So, like any family would, they started asking about the house.
It turned out that in order to buy the house, they also had to buy the town. The whole of Hurricane Mills was a 3,500-acre sprawl, complete with a post office, general store, and all kinds of small-town charm. Fans did what fans do, and they came out to try and get close to their favorite star. So, the Lynns decided to oblige them, and turned part of their property into a campground.
No one could have known it at the time, but that decision led to a path that ultimately changed the course of American motocross history. See, motocross promoter Dave Coombs stayed there with his family in 1981. He had two sons who were MX racers themselves, and he was also all-in on promoting other talented riders he wasn’t related to, as well.
Jogging around the ranch, he saw all kinds of natural beauty—and more than that, he saw amazing potential for a national motocross event. If it was a standalone national amateur event, where no one had a local advantage—it would be an amazing opportunity for up-and-coming racers. Even better, it would be about their families—which is one of the beautiful things about motocross.
He started talking to the Lynns about his vision—particularly the family part of it. They were sold, and August 3, 1982 marked the first-ever AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s. That’s how it stayed, for the past 40 years—with Lynn’s family and the Coombs’ MX Sports Pro Racing forging a beautiful and long-lasting partnership.
On August 21, 2021, the area was hit by record rainfall—17 inches over one terrible night. Both Hurricane Mills and nearby Waverly are the lowest points in the county—and Waverly, in particular, took a hard beating after a railroad trestle gave way.
There’s an amazing piece about the disaster and its aftermath over at ESPN, which we’ll link in our Sources. Homes were rendered uninhabitable, lives were ruined and/or changed forever—and one beloved member of the Lynn ranch, Wayne Spears, sadly lost his life.
The motocross community—from individuals up to big OEMs like KTM, Honda, and Yamaha—came together, raised funds, and kept cash and assistance flowing into the area to help restore this amazing area that had welcomed them with open arms for so many years. This place—and this family—were and are so special to so many.
In the ESPN piece, there’s a particularly fantastic quote from Lynn’s granddaughter, Tayla, who said, "When you're talking to Loretta Lynn music fans, you don't get to discuss the machismo side of her. Sure, she is the grandmother in the ball gowns. But she's also the grandmother who says, 'Let's invite thousands of adrenaline junkies to ride like hell on our property.' She's rockabilly. And she's proud there's a whole group of people who only know her name because of motocross."
We can’t think of a better tribute than that.
Loretta Lynn was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2021. She’s loved and remembered by family, friends, and countless fans—both of her music, and of motocross—around the world. Her family asks for privacy during this time, as they grieve—but also add that an announcement regarding a memorial will be forthcoming in a public announcement.