Out of the Blue | Katie Vanderwerf | Brought to You by Schrader’s

By Jensen Amyotte

Brought to you by Schrader’s

Name: Katie Vanderwerf

Date of Birth: 12/16/1998

Hometown: Lakeville, Minnesota, USA 

Occupation: Analyst at CrossCountry Mortgage.

Race Number: 28

Bike: YZ250F

Race Club: Minnesota District 23 & Iowa moto series

Classes: Women & 250B

katie Vanderwerf WMX
This week, we feature #28 Katie Vanderwerf from Minnesota and Iowa. | Halstead Productions photo

Who/what inspired you to get into the sport of motocross and how long have you been racing/riding?

I don’t really remember what inspired me, I think I was just put on a bike and never got off. I’ve been riding since I was 3 and racing since I was 5, so I don’t have very many memories of the beginning. My dad raced pro superbikes when I was a little kid, so I have been around motorcycles since the day I was born. 

When not on a dirt bike, how do you keep yourself busy? Are you involved in any other sports?

Outside of riding, I stay pretty busy with work and trying to stay active through other forms of exercise, mainly running and weightlifting. I picked up running a couple years ago. I did my first half marathon last fall which was very challenging and rewarding at the same time. I’m planning on doing two more half marathons this year, so I’ll definitely stay busy with that. Other than that, I enjoy cycling, mountain biking, playing the occasional game of tennis and snowboarding in the winter.

What is your favourite track and why?

I would say it’s a tie between Sunset Ridge in Illinois or Mankato MX in Minnesota. I’ve had some really good races at Sunset and love the dirt there. Mankato has a lot of hills and not a lot of jumps which I’m a big fan of, plus the hills get pretty rough which is fun.

Katie Vanderwerf at Loretta Lynn's in 2018
Katie raced at Loretta Lynn’s in 2018. | MX Matt photo

Who has been your biggest inspiration/hero on and off the track?

Jessica Lorentz (formerly Hadler) was definitely my inspiration growing up. She lived 10 minutes from my childhood home and turned into a racing big sister. I had a front row seat to watch the tail end of her racing career and always hoped I could be half as good of a rider as she was. She has always been in my corner, cheering for me throughout the years and always shared her knowledge on racing and life. 

Do you have any pre-moto rituals? 

I wouldn’t call it a ritual, but I do have a habit of constantly pulling my gloves up because I like them super tight.                          

Tell us about your 2022 race season.  

My 2022 season was hectic, to say the least. Going into the year I was only planning on racing the Iowa moto series (since it is my new home state) and a few of the Minnesota hare scrambles. After the first two hare scrambles, a family friend told my parents that I was leading the series (I had no clue) and should do the whole thing because he thought I could win it. After many conversations with my parents and boyfriend, I decided to go for it. I had some tough races, but in the long run it ended up being worth the sacrifice. I ended up winning the Minnesota D23 women’s hare scramble championship and the Iowa Motocross women’s state championship. 

Katie Vanderwerf enduro
Katie also rides enduro. | 1Hundred photo

What are your biggest accomplishments to date? 

My biggest accomplishment would definitely have to be qualifying for & racing Loretta Lynn‘s amateur national in 2018. It was something I had dreamed of since I was a little kid, so it was amazing to check that off the bucket list. In 2015 I won the Minnesota women’s motocross championship which was another dream come true, especially since I was one of the younger girls in the class at the time. In 2018 I won my first AMA featured event, the Evergood Open at Oak Ridge, which was a super fun race. More recently, I’m really proud of the MN hare scramble championship. I almost won the series back in 2018, but lost it due to a mechanical failure at the last round. It was a redemption ride for me this past year and gave me a sense of peace knowing that I finally achieved that goal.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Honestly, I have no clue. As of right now, I feel like I have checked all my big goals off my bucket list as far as riding goes. I would love to still be riding for fun and could see myself shifting more towards trail riding. Maybe some enduros? Time will tell.

If you ever have children will you give them the option to race as well? 

Yes! My dad saved my first PW50 all these years to eventually put my kids on some day. 

Katie Vanderwerf winning the Evergood Open championship
In 2022, Katie won the Minnesota D23 women’s hare scramble championship and the Iowa Motocross women’s state championship. | Leslie Vanderwerf photo

What are your thoughts on the Canadian WMX Triple Crown series? 

I think it’s an amazing series. I love that women get the same opportunity as men in Canada. It would be really cool if we had something like that in the US for motocross. Down here, if a woman wants to go pro, the only option are the off-road series like GNCC or NEPG

What do you like to do in the off season? 

Living in Iowa we have a pretty big off season. I actually haven’t ridden since the end of October, but after a summer of racing every weekend the break is nice. I spend quite a bit of time in the gym weightlifting and running to stay in shape and get stronger. If I’m not doing that, I’m most likely cuddling with my dog or taking her for walks.

Who would you like to thank? 

First and foremost, my parents. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them. My boyfriend, Luke, for always supporting my goals & my siblings. I would also like to thank my sponsors for their continued support: MVR suspension, FXR, Black Diamond MX graphics, JL Photography, Hoosier tire, Scott goggles, EVS, Twin Air, Race Tech & Rock River Powersports.

Thank you to Schrader’s