Interview: WMX Champ Jessica Patterson

Jean Turner | January 26, 2012

Jessica Patterson can’t exactly call 2011 a “bad year” especially since she carded overall wins at five out of eight rounds of the WMX class of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Still, this past season didn’t go the way “JP$” had hoped. The overall WMX championship eluded her, as did yet another opportunity to go for the gold at the Summer X Games. But despite a hard mid-season crash (and subsequent injuries) and a disappointing DNF at Southwick, Patterson was able to finish off a remarkable season.

Jessica Patterson is still finalizing her plans for 2012.  Photography By: Andrea Wilson

Jessica Patterson is still finalizing her plans for 2012. Photography By: Andrea Wilson

After some holiday R&R, Patterson is now back in Southern California and getting back into her training regimen. We caught up with JP$ at Lake Elsinore Motocross Park – her first time at the re-vamped facility and her first time in the saddle since 2011. Patterson talked about last season’s hang-ups, the program for 2012 and dominating the local World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) races as part of her pre-season training.

First, let’s talk about last summer. You were off to a good start in 2011, but things got away from you starting at X Games. What happened?

X Games was like every year. I had a bad year… again. I crashed [in the heat race] and broke a few ribs so I sat out [the main event]. Right before Southwick I came back and the first moto I crashed and a bunch of mud got jammed in my chain and I just couldn’t get my bike started. I couldn’t get it out of gear. I ended up DNFing that moto, but every race after that I won every moto. So I mean, I had a good year but I just had one bad race that screwed me for a championship. Overall it was a good year. I’m just looking forward to hopefully having another good year and we’ll see how it all works out.

Patterson competed in the WORCS race at Glen Helen to keep her sharp during the off season. Photography By: Andrea Wilson

Patterson competed in the WORCS race at Glen Helen to keep her sharp during the off season. Photography By: Andrea Wilson

You were a dominant fixture in Women’s Motocross for so long, but now you have Ashley Fiolek to battle with. It’s certainly been good for the series and drums up a lot of energy with fans, but how do you feel about your rivalry?

It’s good! I’m just glad. I just wish there was a few more of us just to make that group a little bigger and more interesting. But it’s good to at least have someone to race with up there. I hope some of the girls like Tarah and whatnot come up this year and take it to the next level and hopefully we can all put on a good show for everybody.

Are there any WMX rookies coming up this year that you’re excited to see?

I know Amanda Mahue is moving up this year. She’s going to be really good. That will hopefully deepen the field a little bit. She’s really the only rookie I know of this year. I think she’ll be exciting to watch.

Is Amanda Mahue also training with Ryan Hughes?

Yeah, she’s training with Ryno right now. It’s cool because we’ve been in the gym and stuff together, working out and riding. But I think she’s actually going back east to do some training back there. I know she’s working hard, so it will be nice to have one more girl up there.

Are you a bit of a mentor to her?

Yeah, I give her a few little tips here and there and ride and whatnot with her.  You know… eventually I’ll be done. Hopefully she’ll take my place when I’m done.

That’s the first I’ve heard you talk about being done. Is that something you’ve been thinking about?

Well, I mean, it’s no secret that I’m older. I really would like to do a few more years but of course, I can’t do it forever. I would love to, but… [laughs] I’ll race another few years and then maybe I’ll take a step back and try something different. Maybe I might not do the whole series, maybe I’ll just race a few races and keep in it and keep it going and hopefully bring up girls like Amanda and whatnot.

How old are you?

I’m 28.

You have six WMX titles, is that right?

Yes. I’ve had a good career, for sure, and I would like to get a couple more. If I do that’d be great and we’ll go from there, but I’m not going to plan anything out just yet. If everything works out and I’m here for a couple more years, then I’ll be pumped.

You’re also dabbling in some WORCS races.

Yeah, I’m doing some WORCS races this year. I did it last year too and it’s just to keep things going and keep it interesting. Doing some racing before the nationals is good for your endurance. When I race them I have a lot of fun. It’s really cool and it’s real laid back at off-road races. You know exactly when you’re race is and you get to race for a full hour. I really enjoy it. I’m really excited to do quite a few of those races this year, too.

There’s a lot of stiff competition in the girls WORCS ranks, isn’t there?

Yeah, there is. There’s actually quite a bit of girls. Each year I try to get a little better and better for myself to see how I can do in those, and the girls there are coming around too, so it’s cool.

What is your official race program for 2012 looking like?

Well, I’m not sure yet. I’m still kinda working on a ride right now. It’s going good. I’m talking to a few people. We’ll see how it is but if everything works out as planned, I’m just going to stay out here and do my training and riding, and of course, do the testing and go out and win a lot of races.

Jean Turner | Contributor

A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.