At the turn of the century, Patterson was a hot up-and-comer on the women's racing scene who had a style and aggression that was far more similar to the boys than the girls at the time. With that style, Jessica pretty much blew the competition away for several years, collecting five WMA championships from 2000 through 2007. But for the last two seasons several women have stepped up the pace of racing, and while the Florida native has still claimed moto and overall wins, the championship has evaded her. For 2010, Patterson, along with several other title contenders, has secured a full support ride right along side some of the best AMA riders on the tour.
Are you still working with Ryan Hughes?
Yep. I came back out here to California from Florida right after Christmas and I just started training even though I didn't if I was going to have a ride or not. Finally I ended up getting this Yamaha ride and it's been a whole new motivation for me. I just started training again even harder with Ryno and we are just trying to do everything we can. I think this year is going to be really fun; there is a lot of new talent and a lot of the girls have new rides. I think it's going to cool.
Talk about your new ride. It seems like a lot of teams are finally beginning to recognize that supporting the women provides good exposure for them and their sponsors.
For sure. They are seeing that we are getting a lot of recognition, we are getting the one hour TV shows now and overall we are getting a lot more coverage than we used to get and I think now it is more worth sponsors' time and money to be involved. I'm glad that there is more than just one girl with a full ride now; it makes it fun. I'm really excited and I'm glad I got this opportunity and it will help me a lot this year.
With Ashely [Fiolek] having the factory Honda ride last year, I think that the other manufacturers and teams saw that it was a good opportunity for exposure and that the WMA is pretty legit now. We have the same schedule for the most part although we are only eight rounds. But we have the same dates and we have our own TV package, and I think the sponsors like that, especially when some of the guys they support are not being highlighted so well. Right now it seems like the teams are willing to do what they need to for getting their name and sponsors out there.
So how did everything work out? How did you get the ride?
Like I said, I wasn't too sure what was going to happen and I was just going to do selected rounds. I didn't want to waste a lot of money with no solid deal behind me. But then we started talking with Bobby Ray and all of the people at the DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha team, and it all started coming together. The more things began to shape up, the more excited everyone got. It was a whole new light for me.
I haven't ridden anything but a Honda since 2003, so I was just really pumped to be on something different and the whole team has been super supportive of me. They really want me to do well, and so do I.
Last year at Freestone you pretty much had the second moto locked up until the last lap, and you also had a few other races where you would win one moto, then have a crummy second moto. Do you think having this larger support behind you will help with consistency and confidence?
I haven't won the championship for the last two years but I think just being consistent this year and on the box each week will make a big difference. With the new team behind me I have some new motivation and I'm also a lot more confident and that will definitely help. It has already been a big difference. I know I can do it, I just need to put consistent motos together.
Unlike most of the rest of the Star Racing riders, it looks like you have been able to retain several of your old sponsors for this year.
They pretty much let me do what I needed to just to keep me going. Me and Nico Izzi are really the only ones who are wearing something different and that is another thing that pumped me up about the whole deal. I have been with Fox Racing for about 10 years now so it wouldn't be too fun leaving them. They have been really good to me. Keeping some of my own sponsors has helped a lot.
Although the FIM WMX class will not be participating in the USGP, it seems only natural that they could eventually start coming over here if this first race goes well. Do you think that will open up some more opportunities for the U.S. based girls to start racing over in Europe as well or vice versa?
I would go over there but I would want to make sure that I am riding on good equipment. From what I hear, when Ashley goes over there, she usually isn't very happy with what she ends up riding. I have been over there before and I wasn't happy with what I got either. When those girls come over here, they have the same issues as when we go to Europe. It's hard to say but I think with the MXGPs coming over here, I would think that if keeps going for the next five years or so, then we could have some women competing in it. It would be really cool if the women had a race here too. But then if for some reason, my team needs to go over there as well, then I would be all for it.