Jumping ahead

Zulian moves on after being named rider of the year

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There's a wall in Gary Zulian's house that is covered in awards his son, Chad, has won since he earned his pro status as a motocross racer.

The hard work that is behind each of the awards is starting to get noticed.

Chad was named the Rocky Mountain Motocross Association rider of the year for 2005 at the RMXA's banquet.

"I wasn't expecting (the award) but it was something I've wanted for a couple of years," he said from his cell phone while preparing to practice on a track in California. "There are some guys who earned the award, and I looked up to them."

Zulian has been riding professionally in the RMXA circuit since 1999. He has won five season titles, including finishing as the top rider in the 250cc division in 2004.

The racer, who grew up racing on the track in Craig that his father and uncle maintain, now lives in Greeley. He said that the award was a sign that it was time to try to move on to bigger and better races.

"I've been wanting to get more serious for a couple of years now," he said. "I'll still race in AMA races locally but my focus is more at the national races now."

The American Motorcycle Association sanctions races at the same tracks that host RMXA races. The AMA is the national racing circuit for all of the big boys and is composed of districts throughout the country. One of Zulian's contracts with a sponsor requires him to compete locally in the AMA.

"I keeps me close to home for some of my racing," he said.

During the winter, though, Zulian's need to practice keeps him away from home. He is spending two weeks in California to practice and race, and he will be in Texas in February for the same reasons.

Living in Colorado as a professional motocross rider has its benefits, but the winter weather isn't one of them.

"I have to travel if I want early track time," he said.

Zulian's plans to become a national-caliber racer were encouraged last summer when he finished 10th in the four-stroke nationals. His hope this year is to make a national race as a 250cc driver.

"I want to get in a big national," he said. "It's tough, because they only take about 40 racers at each race."

The national races bring racers from all AMA districts together to compete. Racers have to earn their way through brackets to make it into the final race.

One race that he particularly has his eye on is the AMA national championship race in Lakewood from July 24 to 27.

"That's the real deal," he said. "It's televised nationally, and with it being local that would be even better."

Until then, expect to see Zulian at his home track a couple of times this summer.

If all goes as he hopes, he'll also be on television in the next couple of years. In the meantime ,his parents will need to clear off another wall for more awards.

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