I’d seen Jayce racing down south in the past but had never met the rider from Illinois until he came north to race out series in 2019. He came in with a ton of potential, but struggled with a few lingering injuries that prevented him from performing at the level he was hoping for.
Here’s a look at his 2019 Rockstar Triple Crown Tour season:
He ended the motocross season pretty strong and then capped it off with a strong moto 2 at the Montreal Supercross, finishing 3rd. Here’s what Jayce had to say when we got in touch with him this week in Illinois:
Direct Motocross: Hello, Jayce. Thanks for taking some time with us today. Let’s take it back to the beginning to let everyone get to know you little better. How did you first get started racing Motocross?
Jayce Pennington: I started out riding in my backyard on a JR50 and loved every second of it! Around 8 years old I decided to start going to local races just to have fun and decided after 2 years that I wanted to start taking it seriously and that’s where I started racing amateur nationals.
What was your first number and why did you choose it?
My first number was 101. I actually chose that number because I was a fan of Jace Owen who was number 401 at the time.
Where did you grow up and who did you come up through the ranks with?
I grew up in southern Illinois. I raced Chase Sexton a lot, Tanner Stack, Lance Kobusch, and Austin Forkner. All of us were from the same general area so we raced a lot of the same tracks.
What was your best result as an amateur racer?
I would have to say winning a moto at Loretta’s.
How did your deal to come up and race in Canada in 2019 come about? Had you ever been here before?
2019 was my first year up in Canada. The deal came about when the team I was on, Traders Racing, decided to partner with Club MX. The team decided together that we wanted to go up to Canada. New experience, new riders…we were excited.
You came in for the MX portion of the series and ended up pretty strong with a 6th and 7th. How do you think your series went?
I started the series on the 4th race. I actually was not happy with how my series went. I struggled with injuries through a lot of it. I had 6 ribs that kept popping out on my left side, and I had just came back from a pretty big wrist injury which is what caused me to miss the first 3 races. So, even though my speed was there, I wasn’t able to handle everything how I normally would when I got tired or the track was extra brutal. No excuses!! That’s just what I dealt with through the series and overall I was hoping for a stronger ending to it.
And then you raced the Montreal Supercross and got 10th. How was that event for you?
I had a blast at Montréal. I did place 10th but I went 19-3. I got the holeshot the first moto then biffed it. Haha. My bike was tweaked from the crash and that was hard to come back from. Second moto I had last gate pick and managed to get a good start. I rode my own race to a podium.
What did you get get up to after that?
After racing in Canada for the year I came back to Club MX to start training for the Supercross series in the US. Shortly before New Year’s I decided I wanted to step away from motocross.
Oh wow. And what are you doing these days?
Job-wise, I am currently in training to be a general manager for one of the car dealerships my family owns. I spend more time at home, more time with my family, and I have a girlfriend. It’s nice to get to see what it’s like having a more normal life compared to racing and training everyday.
Looking back on your racing career, is there a memory that stands out for you?
I would say the memories that stand out the most is all the times motocross brought people together as family. The times a rider would get hurt and every person at the track felt for them. The times all the 50-65-85 and big bike riders would be sitting waiting for their race just talking. The times your dad was next to you on the gate telling you “go kick some a**”. The feeling you get when you’re riding and there’s not a single thing going on in your mind other than, “How can I go faster?!“. And, obviously, the times you exceeded expectations, put it all on the line and it worked, it got you the race win, or the podium.
Well, I wish you all the best in the future. Stay healthy and thank you for taking this time with us. Is there anyone you’d like to thank before we let you go?
I want to thank my family for their nonstop support and encouragement. The teams I raced for that went above and beyond for me: Club MX, and Traders Racing. Skip Norfolk was a big part of helping in my pro career, I want to give a special thanks to him. Other than that, everyone, everyone along my journey of racing helped me…the good and the bad. I’m just grateful for the experience.
It’s always great to hear that when a rider “hangs them up” they have a solid plan. It sounds like Jayce is going to be just fine now that he’s moved on to the next chapter in his life. And who knows? Maybe one of their car dealerships will be the title sponsor of a Supercross team! Once a motocrosser, always a motocrosser, Jayce. You’ll see.
We just wrapped up the final round of the Motocross portion of the shortened and greatly altered 2020 season. With Motocross Deschambault not holding the final round as originally planned in the rescheduling of the series, the gang at Sand Del Lee agreed to play host for back-to-back weekends.
There’s more to it than just firing up the equipment and grooming the track. The biggest issue is getting insurance to hold the races and that’s where everything needed to be sorted out before they could simply open the gates again.
Thanks to some fast footwork, we had a place to go last weekend to finish up and we even got sunshine for what seemed like the first time since the spring!
The biggest news of the weekend was, of course, the mid-air contact between 450 points leader Dylan Wright and race leader #54 Phil Nicoletti. In case you were under a rock last week, here’s the video clip from the broadcast that Michelle Halstead was kind enough to screen record and send over:
The inside and outside lines leading to this tunnel jump set you up for different trajectories and the two proved just that when they hit the face of the jump at the same time.
I still can’t believe two things: 1) that neither of them even fell! and 2) that Phil was able to use that ripped up hand to ride over to the medics to get looked at! Craziness.
I’m sure in hindsight Phil would have tried to stay left more and Dylan would have waited until another turn to make the pass that was surely coming. It’s racing and sometimes that kind of thing happens.
Fortunately, Phil was back at the track and even congratulated Dylan on a great battle for the title. It was not a sign of Phil being soft, but quite the opposite – it showed he is man enough to confront the rider who beat him in the war and congratulate him. If you think that’s a weakness, you’re looking at it all wrong. Can you imagine where you’d be if you had done that to your hand at work?!
Anyway, what’s done is done, and all Phil can do is heal and all we can do is move on.
As for the 250 class, #15 Jess Pettis was the class of the…class. Going into the series, #19 Marshal Weltin was the rider we expected to challenge the Prince George, BC rider for the title, but he just couldn’t get going the way he would have liked, and Jess ran away with it.
It was fun to watch lifelong rivals, Marco Cannella and Tanner Ward, go head to head each and every week to fight over 3rd place. In the end, Marco got the position (by just 3 points), but it was never a given.
With Pettis heading to the 450 class, the 250 series will be wide open in 2021.
In the FXR Pre Mix class, Westen Wrozyna took the title without winning a round. Heading into the series, I would have thought the 8th place rider from 2019 in the 250 class would have had everyone covered, but young #2 Sebastien Racine and #327 Brandon Gourlay proved me wrong!
The thing was, Westen was on a 125 while the two riders that beat him were on 150’s. I never think of that as being a big deal but then I think about watching 65’s race 85’s and it sinks in. Sure, the wheels are the same size, but 25cc’s is still something to think about.
Westen says he’ll return in 2021 to defend his title but with those extra cubic centimetres in his bike.
What’s really cool is that this class will continue to bring Pro level riders who’ve moved on from chasing the Pro series and who still have the competitive fire burning but want to do it in a more fun sort of way. Let’s see who shows up to challenge Westen next year. I’m sure 2019 champ, Nathan Bles, will have something to say.
In the WMX class, we all knew Eve Brodeur was going to be near impossible to beat. It looked a little strange seeing her with the #2 on her bike, but she lost the title in 2019 to Isabelle Thibault who didn’t return to defend her title.
I had heard Isabelle was making the move to the 2-stroke and was going to try to prove she could run with Eve at the front, but we never got to see it happen. Maybe next year…
Behind Eve, #31 Megan Brodeur was in a class by herself; she had the rest of the pack covered but couldn’t quite match the speed of Eve.
The most fun was watching who would finish in 3rd place each week. #33 Malia Garant, #87 Michaela Hamm, #27 Maya Legare and then #105 Ani Ferguson on her 125 2-stroke were the ones to watch.
I’m going on record as saying Ferguson is a future champ. Once she makes the switch to the dark side on a 4-stroke, she has the aggression and pace to go for titles.
Faces at the Races | Sand Del Lee 2 | Presented by Husqvarna Motorcycles Canada
We were back at Sand Del Lee just outside Ottawa, Ontario, for the final round of the 2020 Rockstar Triple Crown Tour Canadian MX Nationals. Complications at Deschambault required some last-minute shuffling and the gang at SDL put on another national just one week after Round 4.
Let’s have a fun look at some of the non-racing action from Round 5 with another instalment of ‘Faces at the Races.’
Hang on, let’s make sure everyone is ready, first…
Now we turn our attention to the 4 rounds of Supercross that will be on an outside, purpose-built track at Gopher Dunes. It seems whenever there’s a problem with this crazy pandemic year, one of the track owners at Walton Raceway, Gopher Dunes or Sand Del Lee steps up to save us all. Thank you!
I spoke briefly to Derek Schuster last week in Ottawa and he showed me the proposed track layout. It’s a 4-lane track with nice, long straights. The start will shoot down the middle. He said it wasn’t etched in stone and that there would likely be s bit of tweaking before we see the final track design.
If you’re a Pro racer and are looking to get some SX practice, get in touch with the guys over at Vision Built Tracks. They have a picture perfect track in the middle of a rolling corn field right by the Putnam overpass off the 401 near Ingersoll/Woodstock that looks like the motocross version of Field of Dreams!
I’m sure it will be a beehive of activity between now and Round 1 of SX, so that’s where you’ll find me and my cameras.
We should be in for some perfect fall weather between now and the first round so I’m looking forward to seeing everyone out getting in some time on the local tracks.
In fact, Emily and I may fire up the old ’78 MGB and take a cruise out that was now to see what we see. The jets can be seen and heard overhead for practice day here in London as the Air Show is apparently this weekend. If you haven’t purchased a ticket, don’t look up!