Teenager Rocco Landers wins MotoAmerica Liqui Moly Junior Cup title
Many teenage road racers dream of winning an AMA National No. 1 plate. At 14 years old, Rocco Landers is deciding where put his No. 1 plate on his bedroom wall.
The road racing phenom from Burns, Ore., delivered a commanding performance in his first season competing in MotoAmerica, winning 14 of 16 races to claim the 2019 MotoAmerica Liqui Moly Junior Cup title.
American Motorcyclist interviewed Landers after the last Junior Cup race of 2019 at Barber Motorsports Park to learn what helped him become a teenage professional road racing champion.
American Motorcyclist: How did you get into racing motorcycles?
Rocco Landers: My dad was a professional racer and was one of the first high-level coaches at California Superbike School. That gave me a solid foundation for road racing. I got a [Yamaha] PW50 when I was two years old and I rode that quite a bit. I raced in Italy when I was 8 and got my butt kicked over there. I went back over there in 2016 and did much better. I’ve also raced in Spain.
AM: This was your first year competing in MotoAmerica. What were your goals at the start of this season?
RL: I really had no expectations. I came into Atlanta and thought I could get a top five, maybe even a podium. We had good training in the off season, and I was first in one of the practice sessions and got pole. That’s when I knew something good could happen here.
AM: How did it feel when you crossed the finish line at New Jersey Motorsports Park and clinched the Junior Cup championship?
RL: I wanted some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. That’s the first thought that came into my head.
AM: What are your racing plans for next year?
RL: We’re probably going to go racing in the European Talent Cup. I may try out for the Red Bull Rookies Cup.
AM: What was the biggest thing you learned from competing in the MotoAmerica Junior Cup?
RL: I learned a lot of things, actually. I learned to ride a four-stroke better and how to move a heavy bike around. I also learned how to ride on challenging tracks, because the tracks over here are a lot different and much more physical than the tracks in Europe.