Jessy Nelson: First Impressions
Brent Stallo / Vurbmoto
We’ve watched Jessy Nelson come through the ranks since he was on 50s winning motos at Lake Whitney. Being involved with the amateur side of the sport as heavily as we are you get to know a lot of the riders and their families over the years. There is no introduction period needed when a new rookie lines the gate because we’ve seen their blood, sweat and tears for the last decade as they fought tooth and nail to achieve their dreams. I speak for everyone here at Vurb when I say that watching an amateur turn pro their first season is one of the coolest aspects of our job. So needless to say when we caught wind the day before Hangtown that our boy Jessy Nelson was going to be making his debut, we were stoked. We caught up with Jessy following his maiden race to get his first impressions on what life as a pro is like.
Either I was out of the loop or there wasn’t a loop to be in, but I didn’t find out about you racing Hangtown until the day before the race.
Dude, I didn’t even find out until four days before the race! It was really last minute. I went down there about two weeks ago and they asked if I wanted to do some motos with the team, so we busted out a few 30 minute motos and that was about it. Then next thing I know they asked me if I wanted to race Hangtown. I was like, I don’t know, man! I took the weekend to think about it and we decided to go for it. They (Troy Lee Designs) were really cool. They didn’t want to put any pressure on me. They just wanted me to go out and get used to racing at that level so I can get ready for Supercross and 2013.
Give me an honest rundown of what you felt on the line and how different it was?
Nerves coming into it was the big thing for me. Everybody from my town was there – family, friends, the works. Dude, I can’t even explain it. Just being on the line was so gnarly. Three days before the race, when I knew I was doing it, I was losing sleep over it. Just thinking about how gnarly it was going to be. Sitting on the line my heart was racing. I didn’t know what to do. I was just trying to breath and calm down. It’s so different from any of the amateur races. On the line you just look over and see everybody that’s on TV and it’s just like…whoa! It’s so surreal. I was just trying to stay calm.
With the little prep time you had I thought a top 15 finish would be a success. You finished 16th despite a few crashes. Were you surprised to see yourself move up through the pack like you were able to?
Yes and no. I came off the start pretty well. I was coming in probably like 5th or 6th, but who knows. Then all of the sudden I see a green fender come out of nowhere and punt me off the track. I went straight right into a left hand first turn. I almost took out Davalos and I was buried back in, like, 25th. Then I just started moving up as fast as I could until I could see the leaders. They were probably around 15 spots ahead of me, then I came around a turn and washed my front end out. All that happened on the first lap. I got up and honestly I didn’t see anybody behind me. I finally started catching up to guys like Wharton, Davalos and Baker and I felt like I was making some headway. About that time I went down and took out a huge set of banners. So I had to re-pass all the guys I had just worked so hard to pass. I crashed one last time and had to work past another group of guys, which was at the end of the moto. I just put my head down and charged till the end and ended up 13th, which was kind of a surprise to me considering how the moto went. I felt good though. I didn’t even get tired until like the last two laps. I was just overworked from mentally being so stressed. It’s just so much effort to work your way though a pack like that.
How gnarly was the last 15 minutes of the second moto?
Insane dude! I had just been working so hard to get through the pack all day, I was just spent. I was done. I was just like; get me off of this dirtbike. My stomach hurt and my arms were tired, it was insane. It takes a lot out of you. I’m just trying to hydrate now and get my strength back for Freestone.
It’s a different beast, huh?
Dude, just look at the rider list! Every single guy on it is a top three guy or they’ve won motos or they’re top five every weekend. They’re gnarly.
You’ve got a long series ahead of you know. What’s the game plan?
I’ve already talked with the team and we all agree it’s just a learning year for me. They say they don’t care how I do, but you know how it is, I want to do good. But I know there are some days that I’m going to do my best and I’m not going to get the results that I want. It’s just learning. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t come into Hangtown 100% ready. I just wasn’t planning on racing. The fact that I can go get all the tracks under my belt and get ready for next year is the biggest benefit.
It will help going into supercross as well, I would imagine.
Just look back. Look at Justin Bogle and Kyle Peters. They did the last three outdoors, and Bogle did really great. But then in supercross it was tough for them to put an entire season together. Then look at Tomac and Barcia, who both put in whole seasons outdoors before supercross. They knew what to expect coming into it a little bit more I think. Eli Tomac is a gnarly guy as it is, but he came in his first year and almost won a championship. Not saying that’s what I’m going to do, I’m just saying it will make me a lot more comfortable. I mean how much was I going to learn from racing Mammoth and Loretta’s?
Best of luck and don't burn yourself out in that Texas heat next weekend.
Believe me, I'm going to try not to.
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