Meet the Husqvarna Demo Team

Over the years the crew at Husqvarna Motorcycles have become like family to us. Each year they come out and work their asses off to make sure that everyone has a good time. Get to know the amazing people behind the bikes we love!

 photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis

ANDY JEFFERSON

Andy Jefferson of Victorville, CA began racing in 1976 and won his first professional purse race at De Anza Cycle Park in 1979. He raced as privateer on a Suzuki until an injury in 1981 and in October of 1981 he received a phone call from Mitch Payton of Pro Circuit Husqvarna offering him the opportunity of a full factory ride. This began Andy’s career on a Husqvarna racing all over Southern California chasing the CMC Series number 1 plate. He also raced selected nationals and supercrosses with his best finish in supercross at 17th place and earning a 10th place at Saddleback National 500cc Motocross overall. Andy retired from professional racing in 1985 due to injury. After 1985 he continued riding and remained relevant to the industry. In 2010 Andy took an after sales manager position with the re-branded Italian made Husky’s and followed the brand after the 2013 acquisition by KTM Group. He now currently serves as the Media Relations Manager for Husqvarna Motorcycles. This will be his fourth year at Babes In The Dirt, affectionately known as Andy’s favorite event of the year. 

 photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis

TAYLOR RAULS

Hi Babes! I am Taylor, Marketing Specialist at Husqvarna Motorcycles. I have been with the company for almost three years and this is my third Babes In The Dirt! At Husqvarna, my day to day consists of a wide variety of things including advertising, communication materials, press releases, and race team marketing. It is an exciting job that keeps me on my toes. I started riding when I was a kid with my entire family. From there, I moved to racing truck and buggies. My passion for off-road and action sports runs deep and I am lucky to work in an industry that I love. Outside of work and racing, I enjoy spending a lot of time with my family, kitties and boyfriend, shooting guns, and working on my house. I look forward to seeing and meeting more ladies who want to ride dirt!

 photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis

VANESSA WATSON

I have been with Husqvarna Motorcycles since shortly after the acquisition by KTM. Hoping for a foot in the door to opportunities for growth within the company, I was hired as the administrative assistant. My two wheel background began in the mountain bike industry in the early 2000’s with Intense Cycles and I have been with Husqvarna Motorcycles for 4 years now. My current role is the Marketing Specialist for Street and Lifestyle for the brand.

Aside from my daily duties of tracking and recording print and digital press, creating press releases, and coordinating efforts for demo events such as Babes In The Dirt, I work closely with the events team to create events and translate the marketing message for Husqvarna Motorcycles. Most recently I was able to go to New York to assist in introducing our VITPILEN and SVARTPILEN model range to the press announcing Husqvarna’s exciting return to street motorcycling.

I have been riding motorcycles for a little over five years and while I have had my M1 endorsement for that entire time, I have only really been riding on the street for about the last year and half. Before feeling confident enough to get on the road I took my time learning to ride; becoming a better rider through MX and road track days, off-road group rides and desert trips. Outside of my office hours I spend time with my 14 year old son, Ethan, riding motorcycles, traveling, catching shows, strengthening my friendships and contributing to Two Wheels And A Purpose, a business podcast hosted by Jon-Erik Burleson and myself.

Thanks for having us again this year, our entire team loves seeing the happiness that comes with the love of motorcycling brought to new women through this event!

 photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis

ANTHONY DA GRACA

My name is Anthony da Graca AKA “Meatball” I’m the Media Relations Specialist at Husqvarna Motorcycles. I’ve been in this position for a little over 2 years now. My role in the company is to build and prep our dirt bikes and street bikes for magazine testing and articles, I attend media motorcycle shootouts, to ensure that the motorcycles are set up for each test rider in order to provide the best feedback possible. This will be my 3rd babes in the dirt and I’m really looking forward to be involved in another one. I started racing dirt bikes when I was 16 all just for fun. On my free time I enjoy going riding on the weekends and relaxing at home to mentally prepare myself for every Monday.

 photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis

SCOTT BURTNESS

Hello, my name is Scott Burtness, I am the Event Specialist here at Husqvarna Motorcycles. My role here consists of scheduling events to doing any mechanical work to the bikes when needed! I have been working in the industry for 10 years and here at Husqvarna for a year and a half and in that time I have been apart a lot of special things, from working with past champions and on their bikes to someone riding a motorcycle for the very first time to someone who has been around motorcycles their whole life and still has the same love for motorcycles they had when they first started riding! I got my first dirt bike when I was 10 years old, but my love for motorcycles started around the age of 6 years old, that is when I watched my first Supercross race, from then on I was hooked! The motorcycles community is very special and I am very thankful to be part of it and the Husqvarna family.

 photo by Genevieve Davis

photo by Genevieve Davis

JENNA PARKER

Company: Husqvarna Motorcycles North America, Inc.

Position: Marketing Manager

1995 was a year that changed my life forever.  In that year I had been introduced to my first motorcycling experience. I am not like most of the riders you hear about today that have been riding since they were in diapers. I was well into my awkward preteen years and it took seeing a supercross on TV and making the connection to a couple of old rust buckets in the garage to capture my interest. 

You see motorcycles were a huge part of my family on my paternal side and these old rust buckets would be an important connection point to many of the males in my family. My grandfather had been an owner of a motorcycle shop in Norwalk, California in the 50s and 60s and sponsored many racers in all facets of motorcycle racing – from flat track to hare scrambles and anything in-between.  He himself also raced, and at a young age (maybe too young) had my dad and uncle racing.  My aunt also rode, and even my grandma threw a leg over sometimes!

1995 would mark the return of the iconic Lake Elsinore Grand Prix and my dad would rebuild one of those cobweb collectors to race in the vintage and legends classes. It was a 1972 Husqvarna 450 and was adorned with a metal fuel tank, which is iconic to that era of Husqvarna Motorcycles. My dad spent almost 11 months working with a vintage motorcycle shop in San Marcos, California rebuilding the machine and restoring it to its former glory. I remember the very first time that I ever rode on a motorcycle. My dad finally got one of the bikes home and started it up. I hopped on with him and we ripped around the properties and through a hole in the back fence

which opened into some rugged, hilly, rocky, terrain. It was loud as hell and vibrated like a jack hammer. All the neighborhood boys had the newest Kawasakis and Yamahas, and laughed at my dad’s old Husky. But I really didn’t care. I didn’t have an understanding of what “cool” was yet and to me this was it. It was also the first time I ever thought my dad was cool (and he was a rodeo cowboy, military veteran, fire fighter!).  Plus, the Husky was foreign to me and everyone else, somehow making it cool in its own right. It was also the first time I ever felt connected to a place outside of the US – Sweden. I knew I was part Swedish myself, but a Swedish dirtbike really made me feel cultured and unique.

Shortly after my dad alongside my grandfather returned to racing at that Lake Elsinore Grand Prix and our interest in watching Supercross and Motocross on TV grew, my dad got my brother and I our first dirtbike (which we had to share).  It was a 1990 Yamaha PeeWee 80 and it was ugly as sin. My dad tried to modernize it for us by adding some modern blue plastics to the pink, purple and white colorway – but it just got uglier. Plus, I might have been already a bit too tall for it at 10 years old, but we rode it into the ground (and once into a tree).  Not too many years later, I graduated to a shiny new TTR125 which was the best bike for me as a young teenager with the skill level I had. I enjoyed pinning it through the

wash but wasn’t too fond if taking it off jumps yet. We enjoyed growing up with enough space to have an off-road loop and our own mini moto track which was built by an industry track building professional. We also enjoyed trips to the desert and local moto tracks.  I, however, feel my skill level on a bike is still somewhere between where I was at during my time on the PW80 and the TTR125.

 

As time went on I got more interested in other things besides riding dirtbikes (like dirtbike riders) and stopped riding. I went off to college and upon graduating found myself working as a personal banker (completely unrelated to any career path I had ever wanted to pursue in life).  In 2011, after a very unusual twist of fate, a random stranger reconnected me to an old friend who had told me that there was a job opening at his company for a marketing coordinator – that company was Husqvarna Motorcycles.  “HUSQVARNA STILL MAKES MOTORCYCLES?!” I exclaimed. Having been submerged into dirtbikes and motocross my whole life, I surprisingly had never wanted work in the industry.  But Husqvarna Motorcycles?! This was the coolest brand, with such a rich heritage and provided a deep connection to the men in my family. I couldn’t believe they were still in existence and seeking to remerge in the scene. I took the job with Husqvarna (then owned by BMW), became a rockstar in my family and learned from some of the industries coolest people (including current colleague, Andy Jefferson). After a couple of years, the brand was sold to Pierer Industries and was realigned under the KTM Group umbrella.  Through the transition I took on a role in KTM sales department but it wasn’t long before the Husqvarna brand was ready to take off again and I found myself heading up the marketing efforts, with the support of industry legend, Mark Blackwell.

Now the marketing manager for North America, I have a small but solid team that absolutely lives and breathes all things Husqvarna and together we look after all aspects of marketing including PR, advertising, social media, motorsports, events and other marketing communications activities. We cover all segments of the brand from off-road to street, racing to lifestyle. I also serve on the executive board of a not-for-profit corporation known as the U.S. Motorcycle Coaching Association aimed at growing the sport of motorcycling. This is our fourth year being a part of Babes in the Dirt, and my third year attending. It is our favorite event of the year because the people are rad and the experience is priceless.