5 Minutes with...Jessica Patterson

5 Minutes With...Jessica Patterson

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After winning more races than anyone in her class last year, six-time WMX champ Jessica Patterson found herself in the unenviable position of searching for a ride. When nothing was panning out, a determined Patterson started putting her own team together, which eventually ended with her being on a team after all! We spoke with Patterson about her new deal with Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki, and the journey that led her there.

Racer X: Congratulations on your new contract with Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki!
Jessica Patterson
: Yeah, thanks! I was getting a little stressed out there at the end when I was trying to put together my own deal. This just happened to come about, and next thing you know I was riding for them, so I was pretty pumped.

You’re a six-time champion, including taking the 2010 title, and you won more races than [2011 WMX Champion] Ashley Fiolek last year. You had to be pretty confident that something would materialize, right?
I was pretty confident, but a lot of people didn’t even know that I was searching for a ride. Once they started to find out, it was like, they would try, but flake out at the end. It got really frustrating and I was like, “Screw it. I didn’t want to do this, but I guess I’m going to start my own team.” I wanted to ride Suzukis if I did anything, so I talked to Don Sakakura at Yoshimura, and he told me my best bet would be to go talk to the Rockstar guys, so that’s what I did. I showed up at the office and talked to Dave [Gowland] (Gowland is the Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki team manager) and told him that I wanted to rent some motors. He asked me a few questions and said, “Why don’t we just put you on the team?” I was like, “All right.” I’ve been working on this for months now, and then everything happened so fast. I went in there, and two days later I signed a contract.

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The six-time WMX champion found a home for the 2012 season.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki photo

So you went in wanting to rent motors and got a ride?
Yeah, pretty much. I was like, “Oh my goodness, is this for real?” I’d been working so hard to figure out what I was going to do and I was stressed out. I’d been talking to Rockstar anyway, and they were going to support my team. I thought if I was going to have to buy bikes, then I was going to buy Suzukis. I went to the office, Dave just happened to be there, I told him what we were looking for, and he said, “Let me make a few phone calls, I’d rather just put you on the team.” I said, “All right, me too!” It worked out, it was crazy. It’s such a crazy thing to me, I’d been looking for so long. I guess I just happened to show up at the right time. I got the bike on Thursday, rode it at a Fox photo shoot, and Saturday we already started testing.

I can’t even think of Suzuki-supported team that has ever fielded a WMX rider before.
I don’t really recall anything either. There’s obviously been girls on Suzukis, but I don’t think anyone has given them support and I feel pretty honored to be the first girl to be able to give them their first chance at a championship. That’s what I’m working for; helping them stand out, and getting a Suzuki on the podium.

How are you liking the bike so far? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it’s got to be nice to make the switch to a fuel-injected bike.
It’s definitely a bit of a change for me. My race bikes last year were amazing, they were always spot on, and it’s great knowing that your bikes are always going to be perfect no matter what. It’s a nice feeling to know that no matter where you go, your bike is going to be good. Honestly, I jumped on the bike Thursday, and I felt comfortable right away. I was pretty excited about that. I was pretty nervous, because I hadn’t really ridden one. I took a chance, I said, “I don’t care, I want to ride something different, I want to ride a Suzuki.” I jumped on it, and it was really good. It’s nice and slim, it’s working good so far, and we just have a few more things to do and I’ll be dialed on it.

You and Fiolek have been the top contenders in the class for quite a while now. Do you see anyone else being able to step up and start consistently challenging for race wins this season?
You know, I honestly hope so, just to mix it up and get everybody excited, including myself. It’s always cool showing up to a race, with the guys, and knowing there’s a few guys that can win. I would like that to be the same for the girls, to try to help build it up a little bit more. I’d like to see the podium changed up, with me on top of course! So I’m hoping there’s going to be some girls that can step up this year and battle with us.

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Patterson is hoping to bring home her seventh title this season.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki photo

What are your thoughts on the single moto format we almost saw for the WMX this summer?
With a single moto at least we’d get TV time, but after a while it started to turn a lot of the girls off, which is understandable because they have to spend so much money to go to a race just to do one moto. What if something happened? And for me, if I screw up one of the motos, at least I’d have one more. I had a lot of people emailing me that were bummed out about it wanting me to do something, but I can only do so much. Davey Coombs called me and talked to me for a while about it, too. I think at first everybody thought having TV would be the best, but it turned out that everyone would rather just have one extended practice and two motos, which I think is going to work out the best.

Normally at this point in the interview I’d ask you what your goals for the upcoming season are, but I think it’s pretty obvious that you are going for the championship. Who is helping you get there?
N-Fab sponsored my last team, they were going to help me with my team this year when I was starting it, and when they found out I signed with Rockstar Suzuki, they decided to become a sponsor of that team. So N-Fab is going to be a sponsor this year, and maybe even beyond.

Wow, you’re already bringing new sponsors to the team. That had to make Dave Gowland happy.
Yeah. N-Fab has been behind me for a few years now, and they wanted to go wherever I went. This opportunity came up, and they decided to be a part of it. I’m very excited to keep a sponsor with me.

Who else is helping you out?
Fox, Bell Helmets, Oakley, Rockstar, Suzuki, and Ryno Power Sports Supplements

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