The Persistence of Pettis

by Chris Dias

When discussing with Prince George locals which motocross rider has the best chance this year of representing his home turf, the name that often leaps from their lips is Jess Pettis.  And this year may be the most critical one yet given that for the first time, Prince George will be hosting one of the legs of the Pro National motocross series, replacing Nanaimo for its second leg.  The Blackwater Motocross Park is undergoing heavy revisions to accommodate the June event.  

“Lotta people go through life doing things badly. Racing’s important to men who do it well. When you’re racing, it’s life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.” Michael Delaney, LeMans.

For a long time, American riders were traveling across the border and dominating the Canadian races, but recently, this trend has shifted.  Jess has been shuffled into a deck among a group of extremely competitive riders, including reigning champion Cole Thompson, Jeremy Medaglia, Dylan Wright and Casey Keast.  Jess recently came off one of the best years of his career.  Starting with the outdoors, he made it to the podium four times and finished 5th in the championship.  Going into the arena cross series, Jess only missed a podium one single time in the entire series, eventually taking both open-pro and elite pro championships.   You’d think he would soak in those laurels, but a true racer only has one thing on his mind.  In the off-season, Pettis spent his winter with the aforementioned Colton Facciotti.

“It was great,” recalled Jess.  “I felt I learned lots from him, and it was nice to change it up from going to California most winters.” Pettis started racing at seven and has been committed ever since.  Now at nineteen, he shows no signs of faltering or giving up; the drive remains.  This is despite the injuries that plague all riders—no one is immune to the consequences of this sport.  Jess is very much aware of where he is and where’s he’s going.  
“I want to give it my all and hopefully make a good living off motocross, but at the same time, I’m not going to be the thirtyyear-old still living at home trying to live a dream if it’s not happening.  I’ve been hurt a lot, broken twenty-plus bones, but I still have great drive and passion for the sport.”  

Jess recently signed a two-year contract with the MX101/Yamaha/FXR team. There’s also a lot of added pressure.  As mentioned early, for the first time, Jess will be racing in front of the locals at the pro-national level.  More people will be screaming his name now than ever.  The implications and pressures are not lost on Jess, who under
stands he is racing for both himself and the town.  “I think it will be good for the town, and our motocross community, and will be nice to have all my friends and family out there for extra motivation.  Most pressure I put on myself to do good, but I’m not too worried about the pressure just going to go do my thing and make sure I’m ready.”

Certainly, Jess will hear his name resonate across the track, and the audience will thunder in response.  He’ll soak in the laurels and become mighty as result.  He agrees that 2016 was the best year of his racing life, but that’s only because 2017 isn’t over yet.

Editors Pick, A2017Norm Coyne