Washougal National motocross race returns to Washougal MX Park

A wrist injury has temporarily derailed Washougal’s hometown racer, Levi Kitchen

Washougal resident Levi Kitchen competes at the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship's Southwick National on Saturday, July 9, 2022, in Southwick, Mass.

Washougal resident Levi Kitchen acknowledges his fans during the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship's Southwick National on Saturday, July 9, 2022, in Southwick, Mass.

Washougal resident Levi Kitchen celebrates his first "podium finish" after placing third at the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship's Thunder Valley National on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Lakewood, Colo. (Contributed photos by Align Media, courtesy of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship)

Washougal resident Levi Kitchen celebrates his first "podium finish" after placing third at the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship's Thunder Valley National on Saturday, June 11, 2022, in Lakewood, Colo. (Contributed photos by Align Media, courtesy of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship)

It was supposed to be a homecoming story.

Washougal native Levi Kitchen had grown up watching professional motocross racers compete at the annual Washougal National. This weekend, Kitchen, 21, was slated to be one of those professional racers roaring around the Washougal MX Park track during the eighth round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Now, thanks to an ill-timed broken wrist, instead of competing in the Washougal National on Saturday, July 23, the Monster Energy Star Yamaha rider will again be a spectator at his home track.

Kitchen, who broke his wrist during a July 13 practice session and underwent surgery the next day, said he is disappointed, but still looking forward to someday competing as a professional at the Washougal motocross track.

“The day is going to be very special when it comes. Unfortunately, I’m just going to have to wait an extra year now,” Kitchen said. “I look forward to it big-time. There will be so many friends and family there. I’m bummed, for sure, but … I know I’ll have a chance to do it again.”

‘A whirlwind of emotions’ for Washougal’s hometown racer

Kitchen said he hopes his wrist will heal in time to compete in a few events later this summer.

“Generally, this kind of break (has a recovery time of) four weeks at the earliest. It could be four to eight weeks, to be honest,” Kitchen said. “But I’m going to do everything I can to be back hopefully by Budds Creek National (on Aug. 20). That would give me three races at the end of the season. If I get back for Unadilla (on Aug. 13), that would give me four. I count it as a blessing because after Washougal there’s a two-week break, so that’s going to help me a little bit. But we’ll see. I’m going to try my best to go out there and race a few at the end, but if it’s just not in the cards, I’m not going to do anything dumb.”

Kitchen — who has a contingent of local Washougal fans who have been preparing to welcome their hometown racer back to the Washougal track — had been having a pretty good rookie season before he broke his wrist on the Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s practice track in Tallahassee, Florida, while preparing for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships’ July 16 race in Millville, Minnesota.

“They reversed the track where we train at the ‘goat farm,'” he said. “Basically, it was a double jump, and I came up really short. I didn’t even crash. I just landed really hard and ended up breaking my wrist. As soon as I landed, I knew that I broke it.”

“On the way to the hospital, there was a whirlwind of emotions,” Kitchen said. “Obviously, I was super bummed to miss Washougal, but even just any race (since) everything was going pretty well for me in my rookie season. It sucks for sure. But, at the same time, it could’ve sucked worse if my season hadn’t been going very well. I definitely think I showed some positives to build off of for next year. I’m trying to make some races at the end of the season, but I would be happy with my season as it is.”

Kitchen finished fifth at the RedBud National in Buchanan, Michigan, on July 2, and then placed fourth in the Southwick National on July 9. The Washougal native currently sits in fifth place in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships’ 250 class standings — a standing Kitchen’s mother, Sara Kitchen, attributes to her son’s increased maturity and better fitness.

“He’s been putting in the work on the track and off the track,” Sara said of Levi. “He’s super fit, and he can do the 30-minute motos with no problem. He wasn’t ready for that last year at all because it was super new to him, but he’s doing really well in the series right now as a rookie. We’re proud of that and excited for him.”

Kitchen said he felt his rookie season “was going great.”

“Coming into the season, I didn’t even really know where I would be or what my goals were. My goal at first was to get a top-five, and I did that in the (third) race — I got a moto win and a podium (finish) in Colorado — and that felt amazing,” Kitchen said. “I’m satisfied with the year, but I definitely want to win an overall before it’s over, and that’s why I’m trying to get back as soon as I can to hopefully make a few races at the end.”

Kitchen has already recovered from two injuries this year. He competed in the first two races of the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross season in January, and planned to finish the indoor campaign before sustaining a concussion and a broken kneecap in his third race.

“He was healthy enough to come back and race the last four rounds of Supercross, but his team said that with the amount of time and training that it takes to get ready for outdoors, which is totally different, a lot more labor intensive, ‘Why waste your rookie season on Supercross and not be ready for outdoors?'” Sara said. “So he basically just started training for the outdoors sooner than most other (racers) would.”

Kitchen, who lives in Florida, still plans to come to Washougal this weekend and greet his local fans and well-wishers.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Kitchen said. “I’m super excited. I haven’t been home since Christmas, and that was only for a couple of days. … It will be a bummer having to watch but, at the same time, watching a race can be kind of relaxing. I’m just going to enjoy it and take the positives from what happened.”

Masks are recommended but not required

The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship encourages spectators to “just use common sense” to avoid spreading COVID-19 at the Washougal National, Southwest Washington’s largest spectator sporting event, which typically draws about 20,000 fans to the Washougal MX Park, located at 40205 N.E. Borin Road, Washougal.

“Wash your hands often; avoid shaking hands or coming into close personal contact with others; cough into your elbow; don’t touch your face; stay home if you are sick; go to the hospital if you are really sick; and don’t panic,” the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship website advises. “We recommend everyone wear a face covering when they are closer than 6 feet to someone with whom they did not shelter at home together, but will not require it.”.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last recently lowered the county’s community risk level from “high” to “medium.”

Who to watch at the 2022 Washougal National

For those planning to attend the Washougal National on Saturday, there are a few racers to watch for this year, including:

  • Eli Tomac, (Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing), a three-time Washougal winner who is entering the event on top of the 450 class standings;
  • Chase Sexton (Team Honda HRC), last year’s Washougal champion;
  • Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki);
  • Jett Lawrence (Team Honda HRC), who leads the 250 class;
  • Hunter Lawrence (Team Honda HRC); and
  • Jo Shimoda (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki).

Jeremy Martin, who won the 250 race during the 2021 Washougal National, is not competing due to a shoulder injury.

Tickets are available for purchase online at tinyurl.com/mr22vyf2.

The event will be broadcast on the MAVTV Motorsports Network and streamed on the subscription-based FloRacing platform.