Dallas Daniels, a 15-year-old racer from Mattoon, Illinois, made history Sunday during the AMA Road Race Grand Championships held in conjunction with the 46th WERA Grand National Finals at Barber Motorsports Park.
Daniels didn’t win any of the six AMA Grand Championship races he entered, but he placed inside the top-10 in four of them and displayed other traits during the weekend that resulted in him being named the 2018 Nicky Hayden AMA Road Race Horizon Award winner.
“We give out three Horizon Awards each year — the Motocross Horizon Award, the Dirt Track Horizon Award and the Road Race Horizon Award – and this year we made a little history,” said AMA Track Racing Manager Ken Saillant. “The Horizon Award is not given to who does best winning races or goes the fastest. The award is not about that. The Horizon Award is about who demonstrates character, sportsmanship, integrity, hard work, and professionalism and who the AMA believes is going to go on to a successful professional career. And for the first time ever this rider is going to take home two Horizon Awards this season. This rider has already won the Dirt Track Horizon Award, and I have the great honor and privilege to announce the 2018 Nicky Hayden AMA Road Race Horizon Award winner is Dallas Daniels.”
“I didn’t know if I had a chance of winning this,” Daniels told Roadracingworld.com. “We didn’t start out our weekend very well, but I had confidence in myself and in my motorcycles. I was just riding the best I could and I didn’t think about it that much. I haven’t road raced that much. So I just went with my heart, and we came out pretty good. We had some top-10s and close to some top-fives, and there were a lot of fast guys and girls here this weekend. I was pretty happy with where we ended up.”
Daniels said winning the Nicky Hayden AMA Road Race Horizon Award was also an emotional experience because his father, former racer Nick Daniels, used to work with the Hayden family and Earl Hayden has been supporting his racing career for years.
When asked about his future plans, Daniels said, “I have a two-year deal [2019-2020] with Estenson Racing in American Flat Track and I have another year on my deal with Quarterley Racing/On Track Development [to race in MotoAmerica Junior Cup]. So after next year we’ll make a decision on which one we’re going to do going forward…or both, if we can.”
Other special award winners at the AMA Grand Championships included Blake Davis, Greg Melka and Kayla Yaakov.
Davis, a 12-year-old who won the AMA 300 Superstock Expert race, earned the AMA Youth Road Racer of the Year award. Yaakov, an 11-year-old who took first place in AMA Lightweight Twins Superstock Novice and AMA Lightweight Twins Superbike Novice, was named AMA Novice Road Racer of the Year. And Melka, a 50-year-old who finished runner-up to 23-year-old Deion Campbell in AMA 600 Superstock Expert and AMA 600 Superbike Expert races, was named Senior/Vet Road Racer of the Year.