Joey Leto raced at the USA BMX Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. According to visittulsa.com, the Grand Nationals bring in more than 3,600 athletes from all 50 states and 25 different countries, from amateurs to Olympic-level athletes.
There are 2 races at the Grands. The first race counts as a regular national, and it is the last chance to get a national score before the championship race (the Grands). This race is called the ROC (race of Champions).
Going into the race, Leto was ranked 4th in the overall series. “There was more pressure going into the race with a chance to keep the top 5 overall and it was a position I had never been in before,” he recalled. Leto was riding well at the ROC in qualifying rounds, but unfortunately, he did not make the main after a 6th place finish in the semi-finals.
Kam Larsen was the racer ranked 5th in the overall standings and passed Leto in points after he placed 2nd at the ROC. Leto was now in 5th and Kam was in 4th heading into the championship race. This put even more pressure on Leto to do well at the Grands.
The Grands is set up differently than a typical national is. Pros race qualifying rounds in the morning and then race the semi-final and final at a night show that ultimately determines who the champion will be. Pros race three main event finals rather than just one so consistency is crucial.
Leto rode well and qualified for the night show. He had to get a top 4 finish and make the main otherwise he would not hold on to the top 5 overall ranking he was after. Leto placed 3rd in the semi and made the main. “It was a big relief making the final,” he said.
In the final, Leto placed 6th, 5th, and 5th in the three mains. He ended up placing 4th in the main due to how mixed up scores were for each racer. He finished 4th in the overall series behind Joris Daudet, Cam Wood, and Kam Larsen.
“Finishing in 4th in the overall series and at the Grands itself was incredible and a special night. Route paid for every entry fee that helped me get to that point and the support from them has made my goals possible. I will always be thankful for that and look forward to progressing next season.”