Interview by Sarah DiMare/Photos by Jeff Kardas
Name: Jessica Patterson
Hometown: Tallahassee, FL
Sponsors: N-Fab.com, Rockstar, Yamaha, Fox, EKS Brand Goggle, AMPro, Virus #Vteam
Jessica Patterson is one of the most accomplished female racers in the history of the sport. In late June of this year, Patterson announced that she would be retiring from motocross after the final round of the AMA WMX Triple Crown Championship at Southwick. And in true champion style she went out on top, winning the final round of the series and earning her seventh AMA Women's Pro National Championship.
Patterson started riding at seven years old and qualified for her first Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Championship by age 12. By the time she graduated to the professional league in 2000, Patterson had won an unprecedented 42 amateur championships.
Jessica's aggressive riding style, endless hours of practice, and conditioning translated perfectly to the WMX and she continued to dominate the competition by winning the AMA Women’s Pro National series in her first attempt.
Although she's decided to put an end to her storied motocross career, JP isn’t hanging up her boots. She now has her sights set on competing in the National Pro GNCC circuit full-time.
We caught up with Jessica to find out why she decided to retire from motocross and to see what is next for the icon of WMX racing.
Why did you decide to retire from WMX while you were still on top?
I guess it's because I feel like I've done all I wanted to do. I do still love racing moto and all the people and fans in at the races and in the sport, but I started riding more off-road style events at the beginning of the year and I've really enjoyed it! Off-Road is a new challenge and something I would like to try to get better at, so hopefully I can win a championship in something other than motocross.
What were you feeling going into that final race at Southwick this year?
I was excited, nervous, sad, and happy. I wanted to savor the moment and didn’t want the day to fly past. It was my last National and I had a championship on the line. I just wanted to really enjoy it no matter what and take it all in for one last time.
What are you going to miss most about racing the National motocross series?
I'm really going to miss all the friends I saw every weekend at the races, the intense competition in the women's class, and the opportunity to ride on some of the sickest tracks in America.
As a young girl, did you ever think you would become one of the most accomplished riders in the history of women’s motocross?
No, not at all. It actually never even crossed my mind. But when I was little, I did look up to the other girls who were bad-ass and thought, "Man, I want to be like them." They hauled and were just awesome riders. I met Mercedes Gonzales when I was 15 and she was a huge idol for me. She actually taught me a lot about life and getting what I wanted from a career in moto. One thing that I have never forgotten that I’m sure has kept me humble is the day she told me, “You’ll never be better than me until you win more championships!" [Laughs} I loved it! (With nine championships, Mercedes Gonzales is the only WMX racer to have won more championships than Patterson.)
What is next for Jessica Patterson?
I will be racing the last four GNCC races, along with other fun and competitive off-road races I’ve been invited to. After that I'm going to Australia & St. Marten for races then I will do a few riding and racing schools. I’m actually going to be busier than normal, but I love it! I will be racing GNCC full-time next year along with EnduroCross, so I’m excited to change it up.
What do you love about riding?
Just the free feeling of it all, of being able to have fun and clear your mind. If you're in a bad mood, you forget about it once your riding. I love the flow and just the sound of my bike and knowing how bad-ass it is gets me all pumped!
What would you say to any girl who wants to start racing?
Just take it day by day, put in lots of practice, and never give up. You may have some really bad days, but you just have to push through them and they will make you stronger. And most importantly, always have fun!