Catching Up with…Brittany Gagne
By Jeff McConkey
New Hampshire native, #265 Brittany Gagne, has been racing at the top level a long time. In fact, in 2008 she finished 32nd in the WMX and then took 37th in 2009. When she showed up at the Ottawa National at Sand Del Lee this past summer, she looked solid and finished 3rd overall (3-3). She drove all the way from Montana to race the final round in Montreal at the Ulverton MX track and, after a string of adversities, had a weekend she’d probably rather forget. Jeff caught up with her this Holiday Season to talk about that weekend and what she has planned for the future.
Direct Motocross: Hey, Brittany. How’s it going?
Brittany Gagne: Not to bad for it being December and having snow on the ground. (Laughs)
For the people out there that may not know you yet, tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I’m 22, I’m originally from New Hampshire, currently residing in Montana. I started riding when I was 10 and racing when I was 11. I took 2 years off for college and got serious about it again this summer.
Going into the 2nd round of the Women’s East Nationals, there were some rumours floating around that a fast American was coming, to mix it up with our champ. How did all of that come about?
I’m not really sure how people found out. My brother was going to race there in the 450 Pro class for his first Pro race. I wanted to be there for that and, if I was going to be there, we figured I might was well race.
Well, you showed up at Sand Del Lee and instantly got in the mix. Was that the goal?
Before we left Montana, I told myself that the goal was top 5.
Did the speed of our series surprise you or did you kind of have an idea as to what to expect from racing with Eve (Brodeur) before?
I raced Eve last year at MX207 for the Vurb Classic and we battled all 4 motos. I knew she was fast. I also knew that there would be competition. It had been a while since I had been on the gate with more than 15 women.
After a great Round 2 for you, it was up in the air if you would come back for Round 3 in Ulverton, Quebec. What made you decide to race?
Jake and I talked about it for probably a total of 5 minutes. He told me before we want to Sand Del Lee that if I did good we were going to the next round. What made us a little less sure about going was the fact that in the second moto at Sand Del Lee my bike didn’t want to move and was leaking oil.
Not many people know the lengths and troubles that you went through to race in Ulverton. Can you tell us what happened?
It started at Sand Del Lee with the bike not wanting to move with two laps left of the second moto. It took all I had to stay in 3rd. We sent the motor out the second we got back to Montana. It was two days late getting to the mechanic. He had issues getting the parts and, by the time It was sent out, it was already a week behind schedule. It was suppose to be at my parents’ house in New Hampshire the Friday before Ulverton. It got stuck in Tennessee due to thunderstorms. It actually came in Monday after the Ulverton race.
So after all of the hard work planning, the money, and the travel, you were forced to ride your brothers 450. Had you ever raced a 450 in the past?
Before that morning in practice, I had never ridden that bike. I had ridden a friend’s 450 back in 2011, just fooling around in practice, but never raced a 450.
You had a very good first moto and were looking strong in moto 2 when disaster struck. What happened?
I was very happy with my finish in the first moto, especially for being on a bike I had never ridden. It was on the last lap in the second moto when I hit a square edge and went to correct the bike and hit another. When that happened there was nothing I could do. I high-sided off the bike and hit the ground, landing on my shoulder. Then, the bike came down on top of me. I didn’t get to finish the moto and we loaded up and went to the emergency room. My dad knew I was hurt because it’s not like me to not finish a moto.
Fast forward to the present, you are currently racing arenacross and have had some impressive rides in the Men’s B class. Is it safe to say that you are all healed up and ready for 2016?
I compete in a series that has one race a month. I wish I could ride more, but it’s better than nothing. Although my shoulder isn’t 100% (I was told it might not ever be fully healed), I feel like I have made great progress and will continue to get stronger.
You have made the switch from Suzuki to Yamaha. How are you feeling on the new bike?
I had been in Suzuki’s all my life so making the switch was huge for me. At first I was worried, but, after some seat time and some changes to the Yamaha, I feel pretty comfortable.
It’s no secret that you train like a beast. Are you going into 2016 looking for moto wins and a championship?
My dad always told me you get what you put in. That constantly plays in my head. The goal is always to win. [However] I’ve also had moto’s where I didn’t win, but I felt like I rode awesome. So, I guess we will see what 2016 has in store.
The big question is, East or West?
Well, I have my #9 plates for the East Coast, but as of right now it’s still in the air. All the West Coast races are under 20 hours from my house, whereas all the East Coast races are over 20 hours. It might be a last-minute decision.
Do you have any special plans for the holidays?
Jake and I are flying home to see our families. We didn’t get to go home for Thanksgiving, so we definitely need some family time.
How about a New Years Resolutions? Do you believe in that and have one?
I think that if you want something bad enough that you work for it and you go get it. I don’t think you should need a special occasion to motivate yourself to make a change for the better.
Well, thank you for your time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Brittany. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Merry Christmas to you as well. I’d like to thank my dad for being an amazing coach, mechanic, supporter, but mostly for always believing in me and teaching me so many things about motocross and life. Thanks to my mom for the years of support and encouragement. I’d like thank my brother for always pushing me to be better and supporting me. Thank you Jake for getting me all the races this past year and supporting me. Thank you to the Holte family for all the help this year.
I’d like to thank all my amazing sponsors that made this year possible: Wolverine Racing, Monday Sports, Scott Goggles, Gaerne, Factory Connection, Leatt, Gagne & Sons Logging, Ryno Power and everyone who supported me this year. Thank you.