Faces of WMA -
When Jacqueline Strong showed up on the WMA Amateur racing scene it didn’t take long for her to make an impression. Race after race people remarked about her speed and asked when the WMA was going to move her up to the pro class. It was always fun to answer back “Not for a while - she’s only 12!” With a few more candles on her birthday cake the young girl from Sedona, Arizona is now getting ready for her first WMA Pro National series. Over the past few years she’s picked up several amateur wins and some amateur titles including the WMA and World Minis. Most recently she landed on the Women’s Pro podium at the GNC Finals at Oak Hill, Texas.
I interviewed the Honda of Houston/Fox Racing rider in early March and here’s what she had to say:
Miki Keller: First off, how did you get into motocross?
Jacqueline Strong: I started riding with training wheels when I was eighteen months old. My mom, dad, and brother (Jordan) all rode at the time so they just got me into it for fun. The first bike I had was a Yamaha PW 50. My parents told me that as soon as I could ride without my training wheels they’d let me race so when I was three years old I raced my first race. Back then my whole family rode and raced except my little sister, Chelsea who was only a year old. But nowadays my brother has grown up and has his own business and my parents had to put a hold on their riding so they could put more time and money into helping me (my dad plans to get a bike this year). My sister rides off and on but she’s not super into it, she does modeling and volleyball, that’s her thing (ha, ha).
MK: You have had a really great amateur racing career, what are some of the highlights?
JS: Well in 2005 I raced the Women’s Intermediate class for the first year with WMA and it went really well. I won the title that year, which I was really excited about. Then at the WMA Cup at Cycle Ranch later that year I finished up first in the Schoolgirl class and third in the Women’s intermediate. It was also a great year because I went uninjured the entire season and finished better then we’d planned for my first season. In 2006, I won the first two rounds of the WMA (Glen Helen and Hangtown). When I went to World Mini’s in Vegas I won the Women’s Amateur class. I also got second at Mammoth (Women’s Amateur) and qualified for Loretta’s but then got injured and had to miss Loretta Lynn’s and the rest of the WMA Season. I made it back for the WMA Cup later that year and won the Schoolgirl and Women’s Intermediate classes. 2007 started out good as well. I won the first two rounds of the WMA season in the Women’s Intermediate class. We headed out to Lake Whitney and Oak Hill where I finished up second in the Women’s Intermediate class. After Texas, we went to World Mini’s where I took first in the Women’s Amateur class. In ’07 I also qualified for Loretta Lynn’s but once again got injured and was out for the rest of the season.
MK: How do you feel about racing the Pro class and how are you preparing for it?
JS: I’m pretty excited to race with the Pro girls. I just hope I can put in a couple decent finishes and learn stuff from their techniques. For the past seven or eight months I’ve been rehabbing my knee to get it ready to ride. Now that it’s doing better my trainer has cardio workouts and gym workouts for me to do five to six days a week. The hardest part has been trying to get as much time on the bike as possible. I was out for so long and nationals are coming quickly so I’ve got a lot of time to make up really quickly. It’s difficult sometimes because I can’t drive so it’s on my parents to try to get off work.
MK: Who is your strongest competition?
JS: I think the Pro Class is going to have a lot of competition. The girls all run a good fast pace. So moving up into that class, I don’t discount anyone as my competition. I know Jessica Patterson and Tarah Geiger are at the top of their game, they’re everyone’s competition I think. They’ve proven themselves in that class for years and are definitely on the gas.
MK: Of the WMA Nationals which one do you feel you could be the strongest at and why?
JS: Well I’ve only raced three of the six rounds we have this year so I’m not entirely sure ha, ha. I’ve always loved going to Washougal though! I’m really looking forward to the whole season and trying out some new tracks.
MK: What are your racing goals for 2008 and for your racing career?
JS: This year my biggest goal is to stay healthy the whole year. I am just hoping to be consistent and learn from the top girls, like Jessica and Tarah. I hope to progress and keep improving as time goes on.
MK: Sponsorship for women is still tough in our sport, besides good results, what do you think a female racer needs to do/be to get support?
JS: Well not only do you have to have good results but the results have to be at the big races to get better sponsorships. I think you need to be personable, companies like that. No matter what the extent of your sponsorship is, you should always update your sponsors on how you’re doing, thank them for their help, etc. They love that and it really means a lot as a courtesy. Getting sponsors from outside the industry is really hard but hopefully as more girls start riding/racing more outside sponsors will come on board.
MK: I know you have a really busy schedule, what are you doing for school?
JS: I tested out of high school in January of ’07. And ever since then I’ve been taking online college courses to earn my Associates of Arts, a general degree. I really like the online classes it fits my schedule really well.
MK: Do you have a particular subject that interests you?
JS: I really like English. I’m pretty good at writing and it comes fairly easy to me.
MK: Besides school and racing what else do you do?
JS: Riding, training, and school consumes most of my time but I enjoy just about anything. My sister plays volleyball and I played for a long time before I got too busy so I like going to play with her team. Sometimes it’s nice to just lay low and catch up with friends around here, in Sedona, that I haven’t seen for a while. But I like to go-cart, swim, see movies, anything fun!
MK: Who do you hang out with at the races?
JS: I hangout with so many different people. It just depends on the race and who’s there. I have a lot of friends from Louisiana and my sister and I are usually with them a lot at the races because we don’t see them much. I’m a pretty outgoing person though, so I like to meet lots of new people at the track.
MK: What is your guilty pleasure?
JS: I really like pumpkin pie and cheesecake. So about once every 3-4 months I get to break the rules a little ha,ha.
MK: Do you have a ritual you do before racing? Or do you have to wear any item when you race?
JS: Yeah I do. Before I get ready and go to the line I listen to music to relax and get pumped. Then once I leave for the line I’d prefer for people to let me be by myself before my race, with the exception of my dad. He knows how I am and he only talks to me when he has something constructive to tell me about the race. I just like to get in my zone and focus. When I’m on the line my dad and I always pray then I’ll do a couple little stretches and practice starts. We’re good to go after that…!
MK: Your parents and sister are very supportive of you, what is their role in your race program?
JS: They’re all so awesome. I couldn’t do it without them. My dad is really good at sizing things up, from competition to jumps, so I have 120% trust in him when he tells me to do a new jump or anything. My mom is in charge of making sure I eat right and she prepares all my meals/shakes. She always makes sure my gear is clean and goggles are ready etc. Then my little sister, Chelsea, is a champ about it all. She especially misses out on a lot of her personal things to be with me. She stretches me out before I ride and is always giving her supportive input on how I’m riding. Chelsea even works on my bikes and washes them for me (laughs). She changes my filters and little things like that, it’s really cool. My little sister is the best, she helps us all out in anyway she can, she’s always there for me, and I’m so lucky she’s there for me.
MK: Who is supporting you for racing?
JS: I have a bunch of wonderful support behind me. American Honda/Honda of Houston, Fox Racing, Deluge Sport, Brad Lackey, RTT Stabilizers, Dunlop, Yoshimura, Factory Connection, CTi, Panolin Swiss Oil, Factory Backing, Twin Air, Engine Ice, Pro Clean, Renthal, D.I.D., Champion Nutrition, Functional Performance, Adam’s Chiropractic, Bark-N-Purr Kennels, D&K Service, Jordan’s Landscaping, and Extreme Gate.
MK: Lastly, Words to live by?
JS: “Don’t just wish for it, work for it”
For more on Jacqueline:
Previous Faces of WMA Interviews:
Other Recent Mini Interviews:
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