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Zimmerman captures national championship in ATV racing
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Peyton Zimmerman is a quick learner.
With only one full year of ATV racing under his belt on the local level, the Warwick Middle School seventh-grader decided to take a shot at Nationals in 2012.
The results were phenomenal.
All Zimmerman did was capture a national crown in the 90 Automatic Jr. class (8-11), while placing second and third, respectively, in the 90 CVT (8-15) and 70 CVT (6-11) classes while competing during a season which ran from March to August. The classes are broken up by engine size and age group.
In 10 races in the 90 Automatic Jr. class, the 12-year-old Zimmerman notched five wins and seven total appearances on the podium.
He nearly took home a second national title, placing second by the slimmest of margins to Trevor Thatcher, of Swanton, Ohio, in the 70 CVT class with three wins and six podiums. Although Zimmerman actually had one more win than Thatcher, he was barely edged out.
"It’s pretty awesome because it was my first season at Nationals and I was hoping to win at least one championship and I got my goals," said Peyton, the son of Fred and Michelle Zimmerman. "(Placing second and third in the other two) was pretty good for me because in the 90 CVT, they were really fast and I was in a tight points battle for awhile. And in the other class, I got second by one point (to Thatcher)."
The Amateur Awards Banquet was held last Saturday, Nov. 24 in Morgantown, W. Va., where Zimmerman received his first-place trophy, with his name and class engraved with the ATVA logo, and a championship jacket.
His journey to the 90 Automatic Jr. championship started on a strong note, taking a 2nd-place overall finish in round one of the series at the Can-Am Aonia Pass in Washington, Ga. in March, just five points behind Tyler Fortin of Burkburnett, Texas.
The tracks are a winding course with a lot of jumps, usually one or two miles in length with the riders covering four laps.
Although Zimmerman slipped to a seventh-place finish at Muddy Creek National in Blountville, Tenn. on April 21-22, he bounced back strong at Budds Creek National in Mechanicsville, Md. during the weekend of May 5-6, winning top honors following a second-place finish in Moto 1 and a first-place performance in Moto 2.
From there, it was onto Sunset Ridge in Walnut, Ill. on May 19-20 and a night race Balance MX in Oakland, Ken. on June 2-3, where he earned back-to-back first-place finishes in the 90 Automatic Jr. class.
Two weeks later, Zimmerman was sixth overall at High Point National in Mount Morris, Pa., and then he climbed back to the top of the podium with top honors at Suzuki Sunday Creek National in Millfield, Ohio.
Next, he took runner-up honors at the CanAm Northeastern National at Unadilla in New Berlin, N.Y. in round eight, and then he captured his fifth and final win at RedBud Natinal in Buchanan, Mich. on July 28-29. He placed first in both Motos, edging out Bryce Ford, of Southlake, Texas both times.
"Probably the (track) in Michigan (is my favorite)," Zimmerman said. "It’s just a really fun track and it’s sand and it gets really rough. When it’s rough, it separates a lot of people and I think I do well in the rough."
The final race on the series was Loretta Lynn’s Dirt Days in Hurricane Mills, Tenn., where Zimmerman clinched the 90 Automatic Jr. class with 18 points following a fourth-place finish. He was ninth in Moto 1, but ended strong with a first in Moto 2.
"In most of the classes," Zimmerman said, "I got in the top three every race unless I had mechanical failures."
Having been riding since age three and racing since he was 10 years old, Zimmerman clearly knows how to handle an ATV at this point. His local sponsors include Zimmerman’s Slate Roofing, Landis Wash And Lube, Todd Auker Construction and Tim’s Fitness Center where he trains hard on and off season.
While competing in District 6 and MDRA 6 in 2011, mostly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he managed to finish in the top 10 in his three classes despite running only half the events.
"I just rode a lot when I was little," Zimmerman said, "and I just kept asking my dad to race and then he got me a race four-wheeler and we started racing."
Fortunately, Zimmerman has managed to avoid any serious injuries, although there have been a few bumps along the way.
"I haven’t had any broken bones, but I’ve had bruises and sprains," he said. "I sprained my foot in the beginning of this season. I was practicing with my friend and I flipped and sprained the bottom of my foot."
Looking ahead to 2013, Zimmerman hopes to continue his winning ways while making a step up from his DRR model to a JB Mod.
"I’m going to try to race as long as I can and just try to race Nationals until I get older and can’t really race that anymore," he said.
To learn more about his ATV racing career, go to www.zimmerman721.com. More ZIMMERMAN, page B4