At 19 years old, Branden Jesseman has had his share of season ending injuries. Since he has turned pro, he has been plagued with broken bones, or tweaked body parts. Not this year. The Blimpie Suzuki rider is finally having a year he can be proud of. Branden busted out big this year in Pontiac, Michigan when he won his first Supercross, ending Chad Reed’s winning streak. He also accomplished a goal he set for himself at the beginning of the year-win a Supercross before he was 20 years old. Branden wound up third overall in the eastern region 125cc Supercross series. Every weekend, the 19-year-old seems to be getting stronger and more confident. His results at recent Nationals are reflective of this, with a 23rd at Glen Helen, a fifth at Hangtown and a second at High Point.
We heard that Branden was a shy, quiet kid. Talking to him on the phone however, we found that he has the heart of a competitor, and the focus of a champion.
TransWorld Motocross: You broke Chad Reed’s winning streak in Pontiac, MI with your first Supercross win. How did that feel?
Branden Jesseman: I went into the season with a goal to finish top three and win a Supercross before I turn 20 years old. I only told my family and my mechanic about my goal. I kept telling them, that I was close to reaching my goal. Each race, I kept getting better and better. I went into Pontiac feeling really good. Everything seemed to come together. My bike was running great, I got a good start, and I rode my own race up front. I made a few mistakes, but all in all, I think I rode well.
TWMX: Did you put a lot of pressure on yourself to win that race because you were aiming to fulfill a goal?
BJ: I put a lot of pressure on myself at the beginning of the season. I put a little too much pressure on myself, and I rode terrible. I was reading a lot of psychological books, and sports psychology. That stuff really works! Reading that stuff helped me out a lot! I was more mentally prepared for each event. I came in with a whole new outlook on things and it worked.
TWMX: Do you think Chad Reed respects your ability now?
BJ: I don’t know if he did there, but I think he is starting to respect it now. Each race I go to, I am getting stronger and stronger. I can’t wait to race each weekend!
TWMX: A lot of people consider you to be quiet and shy. Do you consider yourself quiet and shy?
BJ: Yes. Some people might interpret my shyness as me being stuck up or something like that, but I’m not. I am just a little shy and quiet. I don’t say too much. When I am at the races, I try to have some fun, but I am also there to do a job. I want to be able to do everything to my potential. I am trying to stay focused when I am at the races.
TWMX: You’ve been racing since you were eight years old. Are there times when you just want to take a weekend off?
BJ: Yeah, sometimes. When I have four or five weekends in a row of racing, I try to prepare for those races on the weekends that I have off. When I am off on the weekends, I don’t want to do anything. I let my body recover, and veg-out around the house. Like this weekend, I am not racing, so I took a couple of days off from riding. I still work out on the days I am not riding. I think that when I come back to racing after a weekend off, I come back stronger, healthier and hungrier. I can’t wait to get back on my bike.
TWMX: What do you do to avoid burn-out?
BJ: I just go into the gym and work out. I go to a movie or two, and try to relax my mind and body. Usually when I get a little burned out, that means I have over trained, so I take it easy.
TWMX: Where the heck is Fombell, Pennsylvania? Have you lived there your whole life?
BJ: It’s about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, and yes, I have lived here my whole life.
TWMX: You seem to have a reputation as a rider that is fragile, and gets hurt easy. Do you think that is over now?
BJ: Yes, I hope so! I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, buut I think my whole mental outlook on things has improved. I have the ability to stay focused and not make those little mistakes that I used to make in the past. I am also doing more things with my training to prevent me from getting hurt. I have learned so much in the last four years, since I turned pro. I remember doing things in the past, which I look at now, and realize how stupid they were. I feel I am a more mature rider now.
TWMX: What are your goals for the rest of the Nationals?
BJ: To get on the podium as many times as I can. I will be happy with myself if I ride to my potential every time I go out for a moto. My ultimate goal is to win the championship. I know it is not going to be easy, because of my bad race at Glen Helen. I had some bike trouble there. Stewart had a problem at High Point. Langston and Brown are having their problems too. Chad Reed might have some problems along the way as well. It’s a long season, and anything can happen. I am just going to do the best I can do and see where that lands me.
TWMX: Do see any difference in the west coast riders compared to the east coast riders?
BJ: Some of the guys from California act a little different. I try to act normal and be myself. I don’t feel like I am anything special. I’m just a normal person that is trying to achieve my goals.
TWMX: What’s the deal with your jersey? I heard that the AMA almost didn’t let you wear it because of the flag numbers on the back. What’s up with that?
BJ: I like those numbers on the back. They stick out from the rest of the riders on the track. Allen Picard from Fly Racing did that for us. I was not involved. The AMA actually talked to my mechanic about it at tech inspection. They told us that we might not be able to run it because it borders on the AMA rules. They have not said anything lately, so I guess it is okay. You can plainly read the number 28 on the back. They use the transponder for scoring anyway, so I don’t see what the big deal would be.
TWMX: How influential have your parents been in your racing career and in your life?
BJ: If my parents did not give me the support they gave me coming up as an amateur, there is no way I would be where I am now. Financially, they sacrificed a lot just so I could go racing. As far as influencing my life, they have stuck by me through the good times and the bad. That means a lot to me. They are behind me 100 percent all of the time. My dad is an auto mechanic, and my mom is my right arm. She goes everywhere with me. I don’t know what I would do without my parents.
TWMX: Anything else you would like to add?
BJ: I would like to thank my Mom and Dad, my sisters, all my other family and all of my fans. I would also like to thank all of my sponsors: Team Blimpie Suzuki, Sobe Beverages, Fly, Alpinestars boots, Scott goggles, Michelin tires, RG3, Gary Semics, UPMC, EVS, Osiris shoes, and my mechanic, James Coy.