The 2012 AMA Arenacross Series is back in action this weekend, kicking off the new year with a return to Grand Rapids, Mich., and Van Andel Arena. While the battle for the Arenacross Class title wages on between the likes of FMF Power/Poynt TUF Honda’s Jeff Gibson and the Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis duo of Tyler Bowers and Chad Johnson, another big storyline will unfold.
Vicki Golden emerged as one of the biggest stories in the sport of motocross last season, becoming the first woman in history to compete against men. She rewrote the record books and then proceeded to achieve even more success by winning a gold medal at the X Games this past summer. While an injury set back her quest to make even more history by winning an Arenacross Lites Class title, the newest member of Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki has missed just one round of the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class championship, and still holds a shot at capturing that crown.
Arenacross: Vicki, it’s your first race of the year this weekend. I know your season got off to a bit of a late start for you. Can you talk about your injury a little?
Vicki Golden: Unfortunately on one my first days back riding supercross – to start training for arenacross – I ended up just making a stupid mistake, going over the bars and putting my shoulder into the face of a triple. The pressure pushed on my collar bone and it just snapped. I went to the doctor and luckily I didn’t have to have surgery on it. The whole healing process went really well and I got to start riding early.
I started riding and, unfortunately, I got back on the supercross track and kind of had a freak accident that set me back a little bit. The whole comeback has been a little bit more difficult. It’s taken a lot longer. I’ve never really broken a bone since I was on 60’s. I’ve only hurt muscles and things like that, so I didn’t really know how long it would take or how it would feel. It’s been a long process and I’m finally getting stronger. I’m able to push the limits without feeling any pain. I’m just excited to be able to get out there and race. I’ve been waiting round by round, and now its finally here.
AX: You originally planned on racing the Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class, but the injury has now led you to race out West. With only one round completed in that championship, you are still in contention for that title. What is your goal there?
VG: I’d like to be up there. The main goal in the long term is to get enough points to earn an AMA license (for supercross). Of course, I have a goal for each weekend as well. This is a good weekend to get on the race bike, and it’s a home race for Babbitt’s and Kawasaki as well. They wanted me to come out and race this one, before the West season resumes next weekend, and I was all for it. So, this weekend is like a warm up, to get all the bugs out and get back into it. When the West Coast starts next weekend, I’ll be ready.
AX: Talk about the opportunity to race for the Babbitt’s team. They are obviously one of the best teams in the series, so how do you think having that support will help you?
VG: It means a lot. Babbitt’s is one of the top teams in arenacross, and one of the top teams in general. To be a part of that means a lot to me. I have so much confidence from having that kind of support and that kind of talent. Everything they’re about is winning and getting the job done, and that’s what I’m about too. To be a part of that, I’m just really excited.
AX: What are you looking to achieve this weekend in your first race back?
VG: I just want to get on the race bike and see how it is. I just want to warm up. Everyone has been racing for the past month and a half, while I’ve been doing a little bit of riding and a lot of gym time. It’s going to be good to get out on the race track. I want to slowly get everything figured out, but my main goal is to make it into the main event and see what I can do there.
Everyone has been saying it’s a wild card on who wins and who can get the top positions, so I don’t think that will count me out, but I’m just hoping to get through this first one and actually start progressing to get some top finishes after that.
AX: Given all the history you’ve made in this series by competing against men, do you think about any of that when you are out there compared to when you are racing against other women?
VG: I actually think there is less pressure because when I race with the women, I’m expected to run well because there are only a few women who run at the pace that we set. So, I’m expected to do really well there. With arenacross, it’s an ‘I’m a woman in a man’s world’ sort of deal. So, there are not really a lot of expectations, which takes the pressure off. I think that kind of helps me a little bit more. I think I ride better with no expectations, and that’s the best part.
AX: You touched a little bit on the long-term goals. What are your goals in the AMA Arenacross Series and it’s unique form of racing, compared to what you’ve grown up doing racing outdoors?
VG: I definitely like it a lot. It makes me excited whenever the (arenacross) series comes back around, and it’s become one of my favorite things to race. It makes it easy to train and work for, because I love this type of riding. But, my goals are just to get into the mains and get good finishes. I obviously want to break my top-10 from last year, and I think I’m capable of it. And with the bike I have with the Babbitt’s team that should make it a lot easier.
AX: You achieved success on a similar track this summer at the X Games after winning the gold medal. Do you think all your experience from the AMA Arenacross Series helped in achieving that, and consequently, do you think running well at the X Games will help you run better in arenacross this year?
VG: Yeah, definitely. Arenacross is what gave me that gold medal; all that training and preparation. We only had two weeks before that event to prepare, so everyone else was still learning, while I was just brushing up and progressing more and more, finding new lines instead of just trying to get through everything. I was picking things apart trying to find where I could get more, rather than just make my way through it.
There’s so many options in arenacross (in line selection), and I just want to figure out how to do them all. In motocross, you just go through and section and that is usually the one way. I think what I experienced at X Games helped me become a better rider for this year’s arenacross season, but unfortunately because of my injury, I haven’t been on the bike as much as I’d like to. But, I’ve been riding a bike my whole life, so I think it’ll come back pretty quick.