Courtesy of Sharon Cox
Jessica Patterson needs only brief introduction. One of America’s most successful Women MX Champions, winning 42 Amateur National MX Championships before turning professional in 2000, went on to win 7 Women MX Championships before retiring in 2015.
What makes Jessica unique? Not only has Motocross been Jessica’s whole way of life for best part of 2 decades- the sport of racing remains grounded as heart and soul of Jessica and husband Eddie-Ray in their business – owning and operating Travelers Rest Speedway post MX career.
As Jessica explains: ‘It started off as a track that I had which was at a speedway where they also race cars. I trained kids and just did my thing there. An opportunity came along where we could take over the whole thing and pretty much become promoters. It was a huge learning curve for us, but we learn a lot each year. Now we put on car races and also motocross races.
A main Women MX Championship event, then part of AMA Women MX Championship Rounds, is ‘Jessica Patterson Classic‘ run outside America’s Amatuer National Championship at Loretta Lynn’s. I asked: ‘How did this event come about?’
Jessica: ‘I got the call to see if I would host a WMX Round and of course with being part of WMX and it being a huge part of my life, I took the chance and of course I wanted it to be one of the best races they have done’.
From end of 2018, AMA Women MX Championship has been altered to only run at Amateur National MX Championship at Loretta Lynn’s annual event. This means Women MX riders go through Area and Regional Qualifiers to race at Loretta’s. I asked Jessica, what are some of the reasons for down-turn in WMX numbers which prompted the change.
Jessica: ‘With the funding that WMX was getting and not being able to run at the big Nationals has really hurt WMX. You don’t have any manufactures that want to help support them like they used to when I raced and it’s sad because there are some really good younger girls that are coming up’.
In comparison, Women MX World Championship in Europe is growing in rider numbers on gate, increasing depth of talent in class, along with gaining greater exposure for WMX Series.
American born Avrie Berry now resides in Belgium for 2nd WMX season- SC: What are your thoughts on the progressive nature of WMX in Europe over past few years?
Jessica: ‘I think it’s awesome. They have some strong racers and put on a good show. I love watching the racing there and the girls have really stepped it up. The aggression, speed and intensity has been fun to watch’.
Part of WMX growth is viability of Women, young up-coming talented Women riders in Europe gaining recognition for racing tough sport.
These Women have developed ability and professional know-how to promote Brand-Team-Sponsors which enable them to race. With WMX Series raced at same venue as selected MXGP Rounds, the benefits of promotion are raised, not just for Rider but also Women support industry which has created win-win situations for Women and Brand endorsements.
SC: What are your thoughts on how WMX has evolved at MXGP’s?
Jessica: ‘Its huge! Being able to ride at the MXGPs is awesome for the women and really good exposure. They get to ride some real tracks and they look technical which helps show which woman are the strongest and smartest’.
A long-time friend of Jessica’s is Italian WMX Champion 6x Kiara Fontanesi. On invite, Kiara spent time in USA June 2018, to race Jessica Patterson Classic- unfortunately due to wet weather the race was cancelled- however the friendship remains.
Jessica: ‘Kiara came over to the states and raced. With both of us riding Yamahas, we would be riding at the same track and just got to know each other. I’ve followed her over the years and she’s always been a great competitor.
‘When I had my race coming up I wanted the best women come to race at my track to put on a good show. So I just reached out to her and had her come over’.
With busy day-to-day business, race schedules, racing at Travelers Rest Speedway in South Carolina, Jessica, husband and now only 8 week old son- what lies ahead for Jessica- new mum and family to be?
Jessica: ‘I want to keep building my track up here for all kinds of racing like what we have been doing and learn to become some of the best promoters. I take pride in my facility and I want it to be awesome. I recently just had a little boy who is 8 weeks old now and he has changed our lives and how we look at things. He’s been so awesome to have and I cannot wait for him to grow up around all of the different type of racing and enjoy the things I have’.
Special thanks to Jessica, fitting interview within Loretta Lynns Area Qualifying weekend.