Just over a month ago, Vicki Golden entered the world of the AMA Arenacross Series and instantly became one of the most recognizable and talked about riders in the industry. After spending the first two seasons as a pro in the women’s motocross championship, the former Loretta Lynn’s National Champion decided to take the next step in her career, joining the AMA Arenacross Series’ Arenacross Lites Western Regional Championship full time at the Denver round.
What made Golden’s foray into arenacross so groundbreaking wasn’t simply because she was a female. In years past, a handful of women riders took their chances against the men. What made Vicki’s debut so popular on a national scale was that she was committing to competing in the AMA Arenacross Series full time, attempting something none of her predecessors had.
Golden’s expectations were realistic, and instantly she saw success by simply qualifying for the night program. In recent weeks, she’s honed her abilities in what was a completely foreign discipline to her and last weekend, made even more history by becoming the first female in history to qualify for an AMA Arenacross Series main event.
We caught up with Vicki to see how her season has been going.
Vicki, we really wanted to check in with you and see how things are going now that you have a few races under your belt. You made your first main event last weekend. How has everything been going for you?
“It’s been good. It’s been a lot harder than I thought it would be, but everyone else has so much more experience in Arenacross than I do. It’s something I’m getting used to still, but I’m progressing and I’m happy with how I’m doing.”
Talk about getting into the main event. You got a good holeshot in your heat race and carried it into a transfer spot to become the first female ever to qualify for a main event. That was a huge obstacle for you to achieve. How does it feel to finally get there?
“It was gnarly. I didn’t expect it to be that hard to make a main (event), but once I did, especially after the holeshot in my heat race, my brain was scattered. I didn’t know what to think. I was just in awe. But I still rode my race and managed to get a fifth in my heat race, which was good because I finally felt like I accomplished that goal of making the main and now I can take the next step.”
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
“I think just getting good starts and going through the whoops. I think my whoop speed could be a little bit better and I’m just learning to get better at them is to hit them. I’m just doing the best I can with that. My starts have gotten a lot better because I’ve been practicing them, so mainly its just focusing on the whoops and getting through them consistently.”
How does this compare to what you experienced in the last couple years as a pro on the women’s circuit?
“It’s a lot different. It’s tight racing. There are only a few girls that are aggressive riders, but here everyone is aggressive. It’s a learning process. Hopefully, I can learn to be more aggressive myself and try to encourage the women to be more aggressive as well.”
You’re going to get some help from TUF Honda this weekend. Talk about that.
“They’ve been awesome. Anything I need for my bike, they’ve been happy to help with. We always pit with them at the races. Now it’s getting to the point where driving (to the races) isn’t really a good option, so they offered to give me a bike to ride this weekend. I’m definitely going to take advantage of the opportunity and I’m excited to see how their bike is.”
Who’s been helpful in getting you acclimated to arenacross competition?
“Everyone has. I’ve learned a lot from my mechanic in Reno and Sacramento. He’s been around (arenacross) for a while and he’s definitely helped me get over the hump.”
Do you understand the significance of what you’re accomplishing?
“I try not to think about it too much, just to avoid adding to the pressure, but I see it when I’m with the fans. They tell me that. I know it’s there and I know how important this is, but I just wanted to ride my motorcycle all year round and be able to race. But this is definitely an added bonus to represent women’s motocross like this.”
What’s your next goal?
“I’ve been taking the baby steps. One was making the night show, and then making the main. Now, I think I can make the main again and get a top 10 (finish).”
Round nine of the 2011 AMA Arenacross Series kicks off in just a few days from INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., on Saturday, March 5 starting at 7:00 p.m. CT!
Advance tickets are available for the Wichita Arenacross at the INTRUST Bank Arena Box Office, selectaseat.com, and by phone at 316-755-SEAT. Tickets cost $2 more the day of the race.
New for 2011! Live timing and scoring from each round of the AMA Arenacross Series. To follow the intense racing action live, log onto www.Arenacross.com.