ICYMI | Catching Up with Jess Pettis

By Billy Rainford

Catching Up with Prince George, BC native, Jess Pettis. | Bigwave photo

Jess wasn’t in Abbotsford for round 1 of the Arenacross Series. He was down in Florida getting ready for the start of the Rockstar Motocross Series that will start on June 1st at Wild Rose in downtown Calgary, Alberta.

Jess’s team, Red Bull KTM Thor Racing, is focused on the outdoor series and so Jess will continue his preparation for that series. Also, he’s coming off a shoulder injury that took him out of the last couple 250 West SX races in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, the series he really has his eyes on.

Jess wants to race against the best in the world, and he proved he’s not far off competing for wins against them! He turned quite a few heads while racing the series out west this season. He definitely put himself on the radar of some of the people who matter in the biggest racing series our sport has.

It would have been nice to see him racing in Denver or Calgary this weekend, but we’ll have to wait a while before we see him behind the gate.

We grabbed him for a phone call interview this afternoon and here’s what the Canadian MX and SX champ had to say:

Jess Pettis won the 2018 Candian MX and SX championships. | BIgwave photo

Direct Motocross: Hey, Jess. Where have we caught up with you today?

Jess Pettis: We just got done riding at Ricky Carmichael‘s. Tanner (Ward) and I got done our motos for the day and ended a solid week of riding. We’re just heading back from the track.

We were at the GOAT Farm in Tallahassee. It’s about 20 minutes from where we’re staying at my sister’s place in Tallahassee.

Who else was out on the track today?

There were a couple amateur kids out there that are working with Jeannie Carmichael. Tanner and I have been allowed into their program, so we’ve been riding with all those guys, and (Martin) Davalos was riding with us today, so that was cool as well.

Did you get in behind Martin or look at lap times? How did you stack up?

Ya, we rode with him a bit. He was just kind of on a bit of a different schedule than us today. He’s been riding good. I’ve been feeling good as well. We’ve just been putting in the work and getting good bike set up and all that stuff on the east coast tracks. They’re pretty rough and it’s hot and humid out here so it’s been a good place to be for the last month for some good training.

That works out great that your sister and your new brother-in-law are there in Tallahasse.

Ya, they’re kind of in the mecca of motocross here. Tallahassee is a pretty big moto town. There are about 5 or 6 tracks that we can go hit all within 45 minutes.

Is Jesse Wentland on a bike these days?

He’s not. He wishes he was. He rode my bike one day. He misses it but he’s been a part of our program. Tanner and I hired him for the first half of the week to help us out with lap times and training stuff. We go to Carmichael’s on Thursday and Friday, so we’ve got a pretty good little program going.

Jess has had some of the best Supercross finishes of any Canadian this season. | Bigwave photo

Tanner said last week that Justin Barcia’s place was his favourite track he’s ever ridden. What have you liked down there?

Barcia’s has probably been the most fun. It’s got huge jumps and big whip jumps. It’s kind of like a Dreamland kind of place. Barcia treated us really nice. Carmichael’s has been good as well. It’s a really good training track. It’s got a lot of big jumps but it’s just really rough, gnarly, sandy, hard-pack.

As far as training, it’s been the best, but for fun I’d say Barcia’s is pretty cool

Have you been able to spend any time with RC?

Ya, a little bit. He was here on Monday when we were doing some motos. He was telling us a few tips and watching us ride and hanging out, so that was pretty cool for sure. He kinda knows who were are and follows us on Instagram (Laughs). Being able to ride at his place every single week has been cool.

Tanner and I were just talking about some of the stuff you see there like Jeremy Martin‘s pit board…(Joey) Savatgy and (Ryan) Dungey, and Carmichael’s pit board. There’s a lot of cool people that have been through there.

Behind every champion is a solid family. | Bigwave photo

So, are you 100% healthy now?

Umm, ya’ I’m getting there. Not quite 100%. My one shoulder is still bugging me a little bit but it doesn’t bug me on the bike. It’s more just certain excesices and stuff where it doesn’t have full strength, but it’s not holding me back on the bike or training or anything like that.

You’re obviously getting ready for Calgary on June 1st, but does that mean Las Vegas is out of the question?

For now, I’m just focused on getting ready for the outdoors. I’m the kind of person who when I do something I want to do it at 100%. I feel like I could go back and do Supercross right now and keep getting good results, but I’m out of the points, and I feel like I proved myself pretty well in my last one with a 5th in San Diego, so I’m just ending Supercross season like that and getting focused on outdoors set up and be healthy and fit for Calgary.

Of course, I’d like to do the rest of the Supercross season. It was pretty cool, for sure. I feel like I was just getting better and better as it was going, but there’s always next year.

What was the main thing you learned this Supercross season?

Coming into outdoors last season, I mean, I just had a really good off-season. COming back racing in Canada I felt confident. And then last year was the first year I came in ready and 100% healthy. I’ve always had nagging injuries and something that’s held me back. Last year that was big for me. I just kept getting more and more momentum. I was super-pumped with everything and once we started getting some race wins it builds your confidence so much and you think you can do it and you just make it happen.

I just kept getting stronger and more confident on the bike. It was probably the best year on the bike I’ve ever had – Des Nations, Supercross, and championships in Canada. It was pretty cool, for sure, but I want to keep it going.

It was a good year but it’s not going to make this year any easier. I mean, I’m going to keep working hard.

What are you going to do between now and Calgary? When are you going home?

I’m going to be here for about another week and then I fly out to California, I believe, to do some suspension testing, get a gooc, comfortable set up on th hard, California tracks to be ready for Calgary and then I think I’ll just drive pretty much straight to Calgary for the first round or go home for maybe a couple days before.

We’ll get our next look at Jess at round 1 of the Rockstar Triple Crown Motocross Series at Wild Rose in Calgary on June 1st. | Bigwave photo

OK, one last question. What’s your plan for 2020? Supercross? Move up to the 450?

Ya, I mean the 450 is definitely the plan. But for Supercross, I definitely want to do it again. I feel like I’m getting better and better at it with more experience and better bike set up. Hopefully, in the fall time we’ll see where we’re at and do something with the team or maybe a Supercross deal down in the states. I mean, I feel like I had a good showing this year. We’ll see if something pops up.

Ideally, I want to stay with the team and keep doing our thing. I had a really good year this year with what our plan was. My plan right now is to just focus on outdoors and Supercross again.

OK, that’s great. Thanks for chatting with us today. Good luck and who would you like to thank?

Thanks for the call. I’d like to thank the Factory KTM Red Bull Thor Team, WP Suspension, Alpinestars, Mobius braces, Marin bikes, Parts Canada, Oakley…I mean, everyone…my parents, my trainier, Kevin Urqhart, my sister and Jesse Wentland for helping me out with my training program. There are a lot of people who help out behind the scenes.