Prowling just below the surface of the deep swamps of Louisiana muck, a fearsome figure peeks a gaze through the ripples of water; once spotted, he quickly jolts under, staying hidden, yet the force of an insurmountable being is felt in the surroundings. He then launches off the river’s floor, an orange figure, tattooed “77” branded upon his side, and appearing ferocious, as stout as they come. Looking to terrify all within his view, the animal of the South, otherwise known as Palmer Neely, is planning on wreaking havoc to all competition as temperatures rise. Luckily he paused for a brief moment, and allowed us the pleasure of catching up, which you can find below.
So Palmer, tell us about how you got involved in motocross; why this, and not other sports?
Well my dad kind of just rode, he never really raced, just rode for fun so he bought me my first bike when I was 3, but I didn't ride it until I was 5 and fell in love with it! I played football for 2 years and it was terrible. Haha! After you race motocross, all other sports are pretty boring.
Any highlights from your minibike (50, 60) career? Proudest moment as a youngster?
Well, my "minibike" career really wasn't anything too special, to be honest I was pretty slow all throughout 50s and 60s, it was mainly about just having fun. I didn't start really taking it serious until I started racing 85s and Superminis. I won the Olympiad award at Mini Os in 2014 with 2 - 3rd place overalls in Supermini 1 and Supermini 2 as a 12 year old.
What made you choose the number 77?
There's really no reason for me picking number 77, at first I was number 7 and then my first time I made it to Loretta’s on a PW, I had to change it to 77 and it has just stuck.
Although a little bit of trouble, you had multiple top ten finishes at the Spring Classic at Mill Creek; how did you feel leaving Alabama?
Yea, well when I went to Millcreek I wasn’t really prepared. I decided to go the day before practice started and neither of my parents were able to come. I was also just coming back from 2 broken wrists at Mini O's. It was kind of a warm-up for me to get back into the swing of things. So, I felt decent coming away with a 3rd overall knowing I wasn't at my best.
You decided to take part in the RC Amateur SX, coming away with solid finishes; what was your final assessment of your riding after the event?
At Daytona Amateur SX I had some solid finishes in the first motos, but in the second motos I struggled to get a start and the track was very tough to make passes on. I came home a little disappointed in my overall results, but I was happy with the way I had ridden and I knew I had the speed.
The consistency was apparent yet again, this time at the James Stewart Freestone Championship; do you enjoy that track? Pleased with results?
Freestone started out a little rough because I was diagnosed with type B flu a couple days before heading there, so that wasn't ideal but I decided to tough it out. In the first motos, I rode very well leading many laps and getting 2nd place in both my classes. In the second motos I got caught up in a start pile up, but made my way back up to around 10th, and my other class just had some bobbles and came out 6th, giving me 9th and 6th overall.
Do you consider yourself a solid Supercross rider? Your results sure showed it after the JuniorMotoX event.
I've always had fun riding Supercross, I feel I'm more of a technical rider than a wide open rider. So junior moto X went pretty well, I lead every lap in the 125 main but on the last lap at the white flag I made a bobble, which allowed Jesse to get by me. It was a real bummer but I was still happy with how the event went.
You absolutely killed the event at Underground, for the youth regional; is stoked an understatement following that weekend?
I was definitely stoked with the Underground regional, winning both overalls in the 125 and Schoolboy 1 classes and pulling most of the holeshots. I was very happy not only with my results but that I didn't have to get in the car and drive 19 hours to another regional! Haha!
How are you preparing for Loretta’s this year?
This summer I will be training at GPF in Cairo, Georgia with my trainer Josh Woods and off the bike training with MotoE and coach Robb Beams. We have some good riders here, and the track is amazing, it gets very rough and makes you tired. I have been training at GPF for almost 2 years now and it has really helped me a lot.
When all is said and done at LL for 2017, what do you hope to come away with?
Loretta’s has always been a tricky track for me. Last year I had several top 10 motos and a 4th, my best finish there yet. This year I am hoping to build on that and bring those to podium finishes. I really want to show my potential at Loretta’s this year. I would also love to pull some holeshots there!
Tell us about your plans following the big dance, and for 2018?
After LL this year I will be moving from the 125 on to 250s, so it will be a big change but I am pretty confident I will adapt quickly and love the 250. I will most likely race the B classes and schoolboy 2 in 2018, and will be attending many nationals.
What other interests do you have outside of motocross? How do you relax?
Outside of motocross I love to hang out with my friends and just mess around doing anything that's in sight. Also, Jalek Swoll and I are pretty good friends and we play NBA 2k17 quite a bit on Xbox whenever we have some free time, so if anybody wants to try and give us a run and beat us…bring it on.
Any sponsor’s you’d like to thank?
I would like to thank my Mom and Dad, Answer, Protaper, Bell helmets, Gaerne, Fctn, Xbrand goggles, Viator Performance, GPF and my trainer Josh Woods, Pro Circuit, Powerband Suspension, Monster Army, Tamer Holeshot Devices, Fusion Graphix, Motorex, and the Lord Jesus Christ
DAILY BREAD BY / LOGAN MATTINGLY
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