In 2018, Jess Pettis made the journey down from Canada to compete in a handful of West Coast Supercross races. Like many privateers, he had nothing more than a bike, a van, and the basic necessities. However, he quickly made his presence known when he holeshot his first heat race in Oakland. In the few races he took on after that, he was a main event contender and showed that he had plenty of potential. After his short stint here, he returned to Canada and took back-to-back championships indoors and out. He then would go on to sign with the Canadian Red Bull KTM team for 2019 and with lots of downtime in the early months of the year, he decided to take another stab at racing Monster Energy Supercross. So far, it’s worked out well.
Last year we caught up with you at the San Diego Supercross, and things looked quite a bit different now than they this year. What's the plan for the 2019 season?
Like you said, I've got quite a different setup going on here. I did a couple of Supercross races last year as a privateer on a Yamaha out of my van. I recently signed with the Red Bull KTM team in Canada and they've let me come down to race the West Coast. We've got the KTM sprinter and a nice little setup here. I plan on doing the first five Supercross races here and then seeing how it goes from there. I might just focus on my Canadian outdoor prep or if it goes well, I'll keep going with Supercross. Honestly, I want to keep going, but we'll keep going race by race. I had a good result at Anaheim One and got my first top ten in a main event. We'll keep building off of that and having fun and looking for good results.
I think that you made a good impression on fans here in the States in 2018, but they might not be fully aware of your successes in Canada. As I understand it, you're fresh off of some championships up there.
I came down here to the US and I think a few people know who I am now because of my results, but I've raced in Canada my whole career. I had a really good summer last year and ended up winning the 250 championship outdoors and the Supercross championship in the fall. I had a really good year; I think there was only one race where I finished off the podium with a bike problem. I've had some good results in the past year and I'm looking forward to getting even better with the new team.
What would say is the biggest difference between racing Supercross in Canada and here in the United States?
Honestly, the level of competition is super high and this is where it's at. The whole industry is here. Everyone is going really fast and it's just another level. It's quite a lot different. Riding-wise, I'm used to going out and putting in a fast lap and seeing position one on the board, but out here that's only good for a tenth place. It's different, but I really enjoy it down here in the States. All of the fans treat me well and I feel like it's good. I want to race down here a lot more.
When you're here, are you getting support from the KTM guys here?
Basically, all of the support comes from KTM Canada. It's still a privateer level of support with me paying for some of this out of pocket and coming here on my own. KTM USA is helping me with a sprinter van. We're all pitching in together to make this effort happen and the goal is to go out there, get good results, and turn heads to get more support for it.
This year was also your first Anaheim One, what was it like being on the gate there?
It's definitely crazy. Last year, I got hurt and came in during the middle of the series. It was pretty low-key, I snuck into the series and there were no expectations. Leading up to Anaheim One, there's a lot of hype, but I feel like I handled it pretty good. I got tenth and I'm so pumped on that.
It was a crazy night with the rain too, I'd have to imagine you're looking forward to more normalcy for the next few races.
Yeah, for sure. Usually, in California, there aren't too many mud races, but you never know. That's dirt biking!
Moving away from Supercross, you'll be racing the Canadian Nationals this year, but what's the plan for you beyond that?
In 2019, I'm signed for 250 class again to defend my championship. I'm going to go up there to try to do that and maybe on the off-weekends I'll drop down into the US to do some AMA Nationals. I kind of want to do both. I've got a good deal up in Canada with good support and I can make decent money and it's fun racing up there. Racing up there and doing some Nationals and Supercross here is ultimately my goal. Ideally, I'd like to move up to a 450 for the KTM team in 2020, but we'll see how it goes.