KEEPIN' IT FUN:
Katie Benson had a big year in 2019 with some exceptional results on the amateur motocross circuit throughout the season, working her way onto the overall podium at bigtime races such as Loretta Lynn’s and Mini Os. The rider based out of South Carolina won a moto at the Ranch for the first time ever last August, taking the top spot in the first moto of the Girls (11-16) class. Benson repeated the same feat after a hard-fought second moto and proved herself as one of the front runners in the class, eventually grabbing a 2nd place overall finish at the end of the week. In addition to her results in the Girls class, she also finished in 7th place overall in the Women’s class with little experience on the 250 compared to the majority of her competition. Benson closed the year out with a couple more podium results at Mini Os, gathering some momentum heading into the winter. Before the coronavirus pandemic, she was able to get some gate drops in at Supercross Futures and the Daytona RCSX at the beginning of March, taking a 3rd overall in the Women (12+) class. We had a quick chat with Katie to talk about the intense battles at Loretta’s last year, moving up to the 250, and what’s next.
What were you up to during the recent months that there was absolutely no racing happening?
I've just been riding locally at Travelers Rest Speedway and hangin' out with friends. I basically would just ride sometimes during the week, but now that racing is getting back goin' it's been getting a lot more serious and more fun.
Did you initially take some time off the bike when Freestone was canceled?
Umm, I mean. I took some time off 'cause there was nothing really goin' on but I still tried to ride a little bit here and there.
What's your riding and training situation been like lately?
I didn't train as much as I recently have been. I've been riding and training with Jessica Patterson, she trains me a little bit. I live right near her and we're just trying to keep it fun now.
What's it like for you training with such an accomplished WMX rider like Jessica Patterson?
It's pretty cool 'cause it's nice to be able to work with women - they know what you're going through and she keeps it fun!
What were you able to do during all of the downtime we've had the past few months to keep yourself entertained?
We just hung out with friends and I watched some shows on Netflix. South Carolina has been a little more lenient and everything opened up a little quicker than some other places, so it's been easier to go to stores and stuff.
Going back to some of the races last year, you won two motos at Loretta's and ended up in 2nd place overall in the Girls class. How did the week of racing go there from your perspective?
It was a pretty good week. It definitely hurt whenever I got 5th in the last moto 'cause I fell, but it was fun! I've never won two motos at Loretta's before so that was an accomplishment. It's definitely cool - not many people have won a moto at Loretta's before so now I look back and I'm like "Wow!"
Yeah. The battles between the top three in the Girls class were arguably some of the most intense of the entire week, but that class seems to fly a little under the radar sometimes.
Yeah, I think so, too. The Girls class always seems to get pushed under the bus. We may not be as fast, but we're definitely racing just as hard.
How did the week of racing go for you at Mini Os?
Yeah, so I probably didn't ride my supermini as much as I should before Mini Os 'cause I've been riding a 250 a lot. I went into supercross and got a 2nd and going into motocross I decided to sign up for the Supermini class so I could get more time on it! So we decided to sign me up for Supermini just to get some more time on that bike. But I fell and I wasn't winning, then I fell, and then I fell again. It was just tough.
How has that transition to the 250 been for you?
I love the 250! It's so much fun and I like the power of the four-strokes better.
Was it tough to learn the engine characteristics of the four-stroke after riding a two-stroke your whole life?
At Loretta's when I rode the 250, I definitely didn't do as good as I probably could've done but it was a learning experience and it definitely helped me get better on it. Now it just feels normal. I'm still gonna do the Girls class though, I have the Muddy Creek Regional coming up this weekend.
Is this your last year in the Girls class?
Yes, this will be my last year.
At the beginning of this year, you did the Supercross Futures. What was that experience like for ya?
The Supercross Futures races are actually pretty cool! I did some before in the past years but it was my first time going to St. Louis and I loved that track. The dirt was so nice!
That's what you hear all the pros talk about, right?
Yeah, I understand why they say that now.
What was it like being on an SX track on a big bike in that environment?
Yeah, I think it was better on the 250 than it would've been on a smaller bike. The track was a lot faster than AX was back then and the straightaways were longer. It was definitely better on a 250 than it was on the supermini in the past years.
How was the Daytona RCSX back in March and how was the intensity of racing the Schoolboy 2 class?
It was difficult for me. I struggled a little bit. The Schoolboy class is definitely crazy, I can say, it's a lot different than the Women's class. But it was fun, it was fun!
What was it like to finally be back at the races a couple of weekends ago at your Loretta's Regional?
It was definitely fun! I did the Aonia Pass Regional and it wasn't as crazy as a Youth Regional would be 'cause it was Vets. I surprised myself; I battled with Hannah (Hodges) for a little bit but then I fell 'cause I hit neutral in a turn, but it was definitely fun!
How do you feel about splitting time between the supermini and the 250? Will that be challenging?
It's not too bad. At first, it's kind of weird but since Loretta's is a week long and you usually don't have two motos in a day - it's kind of normal.
What’s your mindset heading into Loretta's this year competing in both the Girls and Women's classes?
I'm definitely gonna ride the supermini more than I usually do and I'm going to try to focus on the Girls class more 'cause that's the class I have the best shot at winning.