MX Sports Pro Racing took the next step at bringing women's motocross to the forefront of American motocross when it announced the Women's Class of the Lucas Oil Motocross Championship would be added to the 2009 season schedule. The entire program will be run on Saturdays, providing the opportunity for the nation's fastest women to be showcased in front of thousands of motocross fans as well as on national television via the Versus Network.
The women will compete in eight of the 12 rounds of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship with series sponsorship from MotorcycleUSA.com and Dunlop. MotorcycleUSA.com will serve as the title sponsor for the class' holeshot award, offering $250 in every moto, while Dunlop joins as a contingency sponsor, providing valuable support to the rapidly growing class.
Last season, 18-year old Ashley Fiolek took the motocross world by storm with her extraordinary talent and heartwarming story of becoming a successful deaf professional motocross rider. She also became the first full factory rider in American motocross history when she was signed to a contract with Honda Red Bull Racing.
Fiolek will lead her competitors as the first gates drop on the Women's Class of the Lucas Oil Motocross Championship season at Glen Helen Raceway on May 23. Hoping to steal the spotlight will be a list of talented riders that includes five-time Women's Champion Jessica Patterson. After being the most dominant female competitor for half a decade, Patterson was forced to hand over her crown to Fiolek after a hard-fought series. Now Patterson plans to come out faster and stronger than ever, setting the stage for an epic championship battle.
In addition to Patterson, Tarah Gieger and Sarah Whitmore will rely on their experience to help bring them to the top. Gieger won the gold medal at the inaugural X Games Women's Moto-X event last year and is one of the fastest women to ever ride a motorcycle. Last September, she competed against the world's best male riders at the Motocross of Nations, representing her home country of Puerto Rico. She is the first woman in history to do so. Unfortunately, a wrist injury while racing a Grand Prix in Europe last weekend will have her on the sidelines for the early rounds.
Whitmore enters 2009 with a new team. The Michigan native is making the switch to KTM this season with increased support and will surely be challenging at the front of the pack throughout the eight races.
Sherri Cruse, a 2008 moto winner and the X-Games bronze medalist, will also be a prominent challenger. Her pint-size physique suggests a soft, quiet demeanor, but once she puts her helmet on, she shows no fear in mixing it up with the best. For Cruse, bar-banging is part of what makes the sport so exciting.
Throw in rookie Sara Price and promising rider Jacqueline Strong and several other very fast riders and the championship battle for the 2009 Women's Class crown shapes up to be the best in history with seven women capable of winning on any given weekend.