By Bayo Olukotun
Sherri Cruse is one of the newer women on the professional racing scene. A few years ago she was picked up by Zip Ty Racing to contest the WORCS series and some select WMA Nationals. After great finishes in her limited professional motocross appearances, Sherri has decided to commit herself entirely to motocross racing, abandoning her off-road roots for the time being. We found the 19 year old setting down some fast laps at Milestone and she let us in on what she has been up to lately.
Probably not too many people know who you are, but that may be because you are fairly new to motocross, coming from off-road racing. However, last year you were able to win a moto in the WMA series.
Yeah, I won a moto in Colorado at Thunder Valley. That was the first night race they have had on an outdoor circuit and I rode at night time when I was younger so I really enjoyed it. I was a little more used to it I think than some of the girls were.
For the last few years you have been on the Zip Ty Racing team. Are you still with them for 2009?
No, I am off on my own and I am not racing for Zip Ty anymore. Their focus is on the off-road thing and I wanted to focus on motocross more. Being on their team meant that I had to go to all the off-road races and I just wanted to break away from that and focus on outdoors a little more.
Why the preference for motocross when it seemed like you were very competitive in off-road racing?
There’s just a lot more in motocross in terms of having the industry around it. WORCS is a great series but I think motocross and the X Games have a lot more to offer than just riding off-road. For the X Games, we all knew it would be a good if we were awesome and got invited back, we didn’t want to make fools of ourselves and never go back. I think Miki Keller had a good choice in girls. There were a few of them who didn’t do all of the jumps, and we really wanted everybody doing them. But we didn’t want them to change the track. The thinking was, “If we can’t do it, then we don’t deserve to be here.” For the most part, most of us did the jumps. A couple girls didn’t do the ramp or any of the triples but the top three or four girls battled it out. I think we made a pretty good show.
I think you showed a lot of people out there that the women can race too. So what is your deal for this year? What kind of support do you have for this year?
Cernic’s is supporting me with bikes. I haven’t really had to pay for much but I am pretty much riding for myself, but a lot of people have stepped in. AXO has been really great, Pro Circuit is helping me out with pipes and motors, Troy Lee is supplying me with helmets, and Von Zipper with casual wear and goggles. I am getting a lot of help this year.
So is there an added pressure now that you will be running all of your motos on the same day as the guy? Do you feel like you have had to step up your riding and training?
I think within the next year or two, teams are going to start picking up some of the faster girls. Nobody thought that Ashley Fiolek would show up and just blow the doors off of everyone. For me that was a big push and got me thinking, “If I want to make this my job, then I have to do this seven days a week, eight hours a day riding, working out, and do everything that a pro does to get ready for nationals.” For the girls who want to be competitive, they are going to have to do the same. I think it is going to be a lot different this year than it ever has.
I think a few girls from overseas are going to come back. I know some girls used to come over, blow the doors off of everybody and then be gone, but I think there is going to be a little bit more exposure and a little more to race for this year.
Do you have any plans to race outside of the United States?
I am friends with Jolene Van Vugt who lives and races up in Canada. There is a race that is only about 40 minutes away from her house, so I might go up there for that. But it is expensive. There are different licenses and other things to deal with.
How are you getting to and from the races?
For the Pennsylvania tracks, Southwick, and the other rounds that are more back East, I will fly and Wonder Warthog will take my bikes out. For the Western rounds like Glen Helen, Hangtown, and Washougal, we are going to take a motor home. My mechanic, Randy DeFrancisco, and his family will have the motor home. He’s really helped me out for the past five years.
The word on the street is that you are dating somebody who has his own show on MTV and is also a former 125 National Champion and X-Games gold medalist. How did that come about?
(Laughs) We met at X Games then he went up to Canada for something and I had a WORCS race. He asked me if I wanted to go base jumping with him and all of his friends. So on their way home from Canada they stopped by the WORCS race and picked me up. Travis raced an endurocross that they had there and from there we just started hanging out. So it started from there (laughs).