Gatorback Cycle Park, Gainsville, FL — November 27, 2023
Thanksgiving week is full of significant events for Michiganders. It is the middle of the States’ firearm deer hunting season if you enjoy heading into the woods in search of a trophy whitetail. Football fans can celebrate the holiday tailgating at the Detroit Lions’ annual Thanksgiving day game at Ford Field or catch “The Game” as the Michigan Wolverines take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The traditional trip to grandma’s house for the delicious turkey dinner with all the fixings is certainly a highlight. But if you are a motocross enthusiast, it’s time to head to Florida for a week of warmer weather and the world’s largest gathering of motorcycle racing families at the Thor Mini-Os in Gainsville.
Gatorback Cycle Park is not within the city limits of Gainsville. It is 30 minutes west of downtown. The home of the University of Florida campus is the closest metropolitan area to the American Motorcycle Association-sanctioned track. When using GPS, finding the 100+ acre complex might be difficult if you don’t correctly pronounce the name of the county where it’s located, Alachua (uh·lat·choo·uh). The address is 20525 NW 46th Ave, Alachua, FL 32615.
The Thor Mini Motocross Olympics, better known as the Mini-Os, is run annually during the week of Thanksgiving. This year, 6,500 entrants registered to run in multiple classes separated by engine size and age groups from 51cc 4-6-year-olds to Masters age 55+. Motos run from early morning to dusk daily.
The property features a whole supercross track and a two-mile motocross circuit with multiple elevation changes that are built around an old rock quarry. Acres of camping allow families to stay on sight through the whole week.
You cannot run an event like this without being extremely organized. Something the promoters at the Cycle Park excel at. As one group of racers exited the track, another class fired off from the starting gate drop. Electronic scoring keeps the positions straight, and a constantly updated live website keeps everyone apprised of the race order and results.
Lasco Ford Sponsorship
The Lasco Press reports often on the AMA District 14 summer motocross series sponsored by Lasco Ford. A number of riders from our area practice together, work out with each other, enjoy a special friendship, and call themselves Team Lasco. We joined them in the Sunshine State to take in some of the action at the Mini-O’s.
Parker is from Saline, Michigan. He competed in ten classes at Gainsville, five in supercross and five in motocross.
See his results at this link: https://resultsmx.com/liveview/racer.asp?n=10013.
This is Parker’s third year at the Mini-O’s. He has competed twice. Last year, an accident during a site lap sidelined him from racing in the motos. Parker has earned an invitation to the National Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch twice and already has an impressive resume for a nine-year-old motocross athlete racing for just three years.
Asked what he liked most about coming to this event. “I enjoy being here with my friends.”
Parker lists sponsorships from the following: Lasco Ford, Cobra Moto, Minton Cycle, TCD Racing, MMCR, FHR, One Touch Painting, O’Neal, Motul, SC3 Designs, T-Rex, ODI, Thrill Seekers, Dunlop, 6D, Galaxy Barbershop, ProTaper, Ethika, and Maxx Speed Racing.
Carson lists Onsted, Michigan, as his hometown. He comes from a motocross racing family. His father is well-known as a top Michigan rider.
Scheduled to compete in both supercross and motocross at the Mini-O’s, Carson injured his hand, and was forced to withdraw from the motocross events.
2023 was a good year for Carson. He won the AMA District 14 State Championship in Schoolboy 2 and the 250 cc B class.
We initially met Carson at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch when he was racing there at the age of eight.
Carson’s sponsors include FHR Racing, Championship Powersports, Ryder Powersports, Og’s, SC3 Designs, TurboSpeedTuning, Fathm, Phat Head, ODI, Twin Air, Dunlop, Mobius, and Ogio.
Team Lasco trains at a track on the Hekker property in Holly, Michigan. Logan competed in eight classes at the Mini-O’s, four each in supercross and motocross. Scoring a number of top-10 finishes.
See his results at this link: https://resultsmx.com/liveview/racer.asp?n=9209.
Logan says his three visits to the Mini-O’s have been a real learning experience. He enjoys the level of competition that the event attracts. The Lasco Press featured Logan during our visit to the Gatorback Cycle Park last year.
Logan’s sponsors are Northern Tree Care, Lasco Ford, Club 57, ODI Grips, DunlopTires, OGIO, and Enthica.
Maxx (Speed) Lasco
Maxx’s dad, Matt Lasco, is the Vice President of Lasco Ford in Fenton. In addition to sponsoring races in AMA District 14, he owns property outside of town that features a motocross practice track. Maxx Speed Acres hosts the Team Lasco riders, giving them a place to work on their riding techniques.
This is Maxx’s second year at the Mini-O’s. Just as Logan referred to coming to Gainsville as a learning experience, Maxx echoes those sentiments. “Last year was a bit overwhelming. I didn’t really know what to expect coming to a national event. Experiencing the Mini-O’s helped me understand the level of competition that I would be facing for events like this and Loretta’s. It motivated me to work harder at training and in my workouts.”
That extra effort paid off for Maxx. In 2023, he won the AMA District 14 State Championship in the 85cc Jr 9-11 Class. Maxx competed in five Mini-O events this year, two supercross and three motocross classes, making it to the featured event in all five classes.
See his results at this link: https://resultsmx.com/liveview/racer.asp?n=10413.
His goal for 2024 is to qualify for the National Amateur Motocross Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch.
If the name sounds familiar, Joey Vicari is a member of the Vicari family that owns the Andiamo restaurants in the greater Detroit area. Joey competed in six classes at the Mini-O’s and posted some outstanding finishes, including a class win and two second-place results.
See his results at this link: https://resultsmx.com/liveview/racer.asp?n=10540.
No stranger to the big stage, Joey competed in an exhibition race titled the 65 CC World All-Stars during the first round of the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs. He said that it was a “really cool experience” seeing and meeting the professionals in Charlotte at zMAXX Dragway.
Joey has qualified to race at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch three times. He is confident, composed, and will no doubt be in the headlines again as a motocross racer.
Joey’s sponsors include: Andiamo Italia, Magic Racing, 6d Helmets, FXR Racing, Scott Moto Sports, MCR suspension, Legue Graphics.
Our visit to Gainsville was highlighted by the families of these riders, who were most gracious in allowing time during a busy schedule to speak to us and pose for photographs.
Mark (Mailman) McCarthy, who chauffeured me around the grounds in a golf cart. Saving a lot of steps and keeping me on schedule with the Michigan competitors.
Sam Jennings, Maxx’s mechanic and coach, answered all the questions I posed. It greatly enhanced my understanding of the sport.
Several members of Team Lasco are training in Florida this winter at Moto Sandbox. They had a lot of riders competing at the Mini-Os, and we could not align our schedules to meet. While the snow is flying in Michigan, we will extend our Florida stay to include a visit to their training facility in Clermont. Stay tuned.