Sarah Whitmore Motocross Interview

May 28, 2009
Jim Kimball
In spite of her young age (24), Cheboygan Michigan’s Sarah Whitmore is considered an icon in the world of women’s motocross. One of the true stars of the sport, Sarah has accomplished much in her career, including bringing more mainstream attention to the WMA (Women’s Motocross Association) series; yet to date has missed out bringing home the coveted WMA Championship. With that in mind, Whitmore’s focus is on taking the number 1 plate back to Michigan – and in the meantime also enjoying racing in Europe and the WORCS (World Off-Road Championship Series).

Sara Whitmore  KTM  - Cheboygan  Michigan
24-year-old KTM WMA rider Sarah Whitmore

Sarah, how about starting off with your new deal with KTM?

Well, Suzuki dropped all of their support in December; which I understand in this economy. But they waited so late before doing it, and I was left with nothing. Everyone else had budget’s that were already full, so I was left scrambling to find something. Luckily for me KTM and I were able to work something out, and actually they are doing so much more for me now than I had before – so it worked out much better in the end.

With KTM you are racing several series, including WORCS, World Women’s’ Motocross, and WMA; what is your priority?

I just started doing some of the WORCS rounds for fun, and of course they are excellent training since we are racing for a full hour. But my heart is, and always will be, with motocross. The WMA series is very important for me since I have won races, but never a championship. Also, winning here at home is very important. I just got back from the FIM World Championship series, and I hate to say it, but they treat the women so much better over there. We get more respect and all the girls are on teams that have lots of support. I was blown away by the professionalism, and I really hope that with MX Sports taking over the racing here that they can do the same.

Lets expand on the WORCS racing for a minute; how different is it than motocross?

Well, Jim, for one thing it is a lot more laid back. But they really are a lot of fun, and sometimes it is nice to do races where there isn’t as much pressure – though I always want to win! Off-road definitely is a lot of fun, but with me being from the Midwest, I would like to see more trees?. My brother just made some trails at our house, and you have to use bark-busters or you will break your fingers. To me, that is much more fun than riding wide-open in the desert, but really anytime that I’m on my bike I am having fun.

Sara Whitmore  - AMA Womens Motocross  Glen Helen Sara Whitmore - AMA Womens Motocross  Glen Helen
Whitmore in the 2009 Women’s Motocross season-opener at Glen Helen Raceway.

Now moving to racing in the Women’s World Motocross Championships; how do they compare to racing here in the WMA series? 

Well, first of all I want to say thanks to Miki Keller (WMA founder, president, and strong advocate of women’s racing) for all her hard work with the WMA over the years. She has done so much for us, and I know it’s always been a battle working with the AMA and trying to get the right exposure. In Europe everyone is so much more open to the idea of women racing, and we are treated as equals to the guys. Even the male racers there give us more respect; they cheer us on and give us tips between the races. Every girl is on a team, and gets more support than we do here; everything that I do here is on my own – so it is much harder. Because of all the support over there, I believe that the speeds are faster and that the field is much deeper. Basically the difference is that in Europe the girls are considered professionals and treated as such; over here we have been getting amateur support and have generally been considered a “side-show”.

That may be changing with the improvements to the 2009 WMA Program.

Yes, I am really excited about this year’s racing with MX Sports taking over; Davey Coombs has always been a big supporter of women’s motocross. With us being a part of the program now, and having TV time I have very high expectations – I think that this will be our best season yet.

With that said Sarah; what will it take to win this series?

The competition will be very stiff this year; not only do you have to be fast, you have to be consistent every moto.

Your thoughts as to where you are at right now as far as the new season.

My schedule did get a little set back as far as bike preparation goes since I didn’t even sign a contract until about a month ago – until then I had been riding an off-road bike with a kickstand! But I have been training and riding hard all winter, and mentally I feel stronger than I have in years. I think that was my biggest hurdle the past two years, so I am feeling much more confident – I think that’s number one.

What’s next on your horizon?

I am contracted to do WORCS in 2010, as well as the WMA series. However I am extremely impressed with the WMX at the GP’s. I guess that I will just have to wait and see how this summer goes, and then go from there.

Finishing up Sarah; what do you want to add?

I want to thank KTM for helping me out at such the last moment, and my family back home that I miss so much. Also thanks to my two California families; the Hauser’s who I live with, and the Jung’s who take care of me at the track; without them I don’t know what I would do. And of course thanks to my sponsors and friends that help me out every day!