Meet Kaitlyn Jackson, the former motocross racer who’s doing off-road racing for women

At age 16, she’s already the first female American and is racing in pro-cross at 7,000 feet at speeds of up to 140 mph in the off-road racing circuit. And now Kaitlyn Jackson is trying to prove to herself she’s as tough as men and worthy of respect.

On a recent day at Spring Mountain in Pennsylvania, she spoke to reporters about trying to find her way in the male-dominated racing world.

What initially got you into dirt-track racing?

At age 7, I started to compete in motocross races when I lived in Colorado. I was doing a lot of motocross when I was in sixth grade. Then I went to the Santa Fe Raceway down in New Mexico for the first time. And I said, “Wow, it’s so pretty. This really feels right.” I just fell in love with it then and I’ve been competing ever since.

How hard is it to stand out in that world?

It’s tough, but then again in a sport like motocross, people don’t really think of me as a girl. Once you get into the off-road racing world, [there are] just different competitors. I can tell the difference. They know that I’m racing and they treat me differently.

One of your races was on national TV on Fox News. What was it like?

It’s just fun. The crowds are amazing. The reaction from the crowd is great. Everybody’s excited. It was like a stand-up-and-be-celebrated kind of thing. And they had some fun spotlights up there. It was cool to see.

I know being out in the desert can be the most challenging.

It’s definitely challenging, but you make it easier on yourself by going down the big ramps. And then once you have the truck on the dirt track, it’s definitely a lot better. And it’s really fun.

What’s your favorite thing about off-road racing?

My favorite thing is the adrenaline. When you race, it’s just you and the dirt. You’re just riding up there. I enjoy that. I don’t feel like I’m out there. I feel like I’m in the truck and driving down the road and it’s just a blast. It’s definitely the best kind of competition.

What’s something unusual or interesting that you do?

I like doing the dishes. I want to make dinner, but I don’t have anyone at home and I can’t cook. So it’s just me rolling out of bed and having a couple cups of coffee and a plate. And I get to clean the dishes afterwards.

Do you think that drives a little bit of defiance in you?

Definitely. I always felt like I was growing up in a tough place with a tough background and I was showing people that I could drive and live and get through whatever.

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