Husqvarna Babes in the Dirt

5 Years Strong at Babes in the Dirt 5 | Meet the Husqvarna Team That Continues to Grow the Off-Road Community

Its almost impossible to put into words how much we appreciate the team over at Husqvarna USA. Ever since day one, they have believed in our movement to strengthen the ladies off-road community and have been the absolute best to work with on all Babes in the Dirt initiatives. Ask anyone of them and they will tell you “Its not what you ride, or how you ride, just as long as you are out there having fun”. Their passion for motorcycles (street and dirt) has been fuel to the fire of what we do. We encourage you to stop by their booth, check out the demo bikes, ask questions, and say “hi!” as they can’t wait to meet you all at Babes in the Dirt 5 this weekend.

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.

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TAYLOR RAULS

Hi Babes! My name is Taylor, and I recently moved from a Husqvarna specific Marketing Specialist position to a KTM Group Marketing position. Now, not only am I working on advertising, PR, and media for Husqvarna Motorcycles; I am working on it for KTM as well. It is an exciting new role and what makes it even better is I still get to participate in the best event of the year! This is my fourth Babes in the Dirt and every year that I have attended, has been one I will never forget. 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. Seeing ladies who are new to dirt and even new to riding anything two wheels is exciting and enforces why I love BITD so much! Anya and Ashmore pour their hearts into this event and it shows. Thank you for allowing me to be such a big part of the event and I look forward to seeing everyone out there and ready to ride! Come say hi!!

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VANESSA WATSON

My two-wheel background began in the early 2000’s in the mountain bike industry working for Intense Cycles in Temecula, CA. I have been with Husqvarna Motorcycles since shortly after the acquisition by KTM a little over 5 years ago. I was hired as the Office Administrator but hopeful that a foot in the door would lead to growth opportunities within the company. I am in my fifth year with the company and my current role is Marketing Specialist.

Aside from my daily duties of tracking print and digital press, I manage all brand social media and coordinate efforts for special partnered projects and demo events such as Babes in the Dirt. I work closely with the events team to translate the marketing message for Husqvarna Motorcycles by bringing awareness to the brand.

I have been riding motorcycles for a little over six years and although I have had my M1 endorsement for that entire time, I have only really been riding on the street for about 2 and half years. Before I felt confident enough to get on the road, I took my time learning to ride. I became a better rider through coaching at MX and road course track days and I jumped at every opportunity to ride off-road with riders more skilled than me. My coworkers and the motorcycling community I’m part of have always lent an encouraging and helpful hand in my growth as a rider. Outside office hours I spend time with my 16-year-old son Ethan. I ride motorcycles often, travel, and enjoy strengthening my friendships and picking up new hobbies.

Thanks for having us again, the fifth year, WOW! Our entire team loves seeing the happiness that comes with the love of motorcycling brought to new riders and new fans of Husqvarna

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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 3 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 4th Babes in the Dirt and I’m really looking forward to being 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.

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SCOTT BURTNESS

Hello, my name is Scott Burtness, I am the Event Specialist here at Husqvarna Motorcycles. My role consists of scheduling events, mechanical work for all the demo and event bikes and looking after special projects for brand ambassadors. I have been working in the industry for 10 years and here at Husqvarna for 2 and a half, in that time I have been part of a lot of special things, from working with and on the bikes of past champions to someone riding a motorcycle for the very first time. I also work with people who have been around motorcycles their whole life and still have the same love for motorcycles that they did 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, when I watched my first Supercross race, from then on, I was hooked! The motorcycling community is very special, and I love being part of it!

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JENNA PARKER

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.

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ALLISON THOMPSON

Hello Babes!

I'm the Marketing Manager for Husqvarna Motorcyles Canada. As I write this we still have snow on the ground in many places in Canada so myself and our Canadian Husqvarna Motorcyles ambassadors Lexi Pechout and Desirae Hildebrand are super excited to be heading down for another edition of Babes in the Dirt!

This will be my second time venturing down to Babes. As an action and outdoor sports participant and marketer for 20 years, I was blown away last year by the community spirit and camaraderie of 700+ lady riders that came from throughout the United States and Canada. The diversity of riding levels was amazing to see.

I've been a recreational off-road rider for a few years and last summer I completed 40 hours of rigorous training in Montreal to get my street license. As a long time, snowboarder and mountain biker I'm now absolutely loving off-road riding more than ever now that I have some motorcycle training under my belt! So many skills/ fundamentals cross-over from other sports. (DO NOT LOOK AT THE TREE!)

I still may be a bit slow but there are so many women in this community that inspire me to improve and get faster each season. Meeting women that are absolutely ripping after 2 seasons is so rad. I will be fast!

I look forward to meeting all of you when you come and see us for your Husqvarna Demo rides!

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JAMMI ROBERTSON

Hi Babes! I started my career in the motorcycle industry at Thor Motocross. During my time at Thor, I worked in various roles, including supporting sales and marketing, and sports marketing with athlete relations. Athlete relations was where I found my true passion, and eventually I moved into the role of Amateur Motocross Team Manager. My role included contracting top amateurs and planning race events, social media and maintaining OEM sponsorship requirements.

After 12 years at Thor, I decided to make a change in my career. I moved to Hanoi, Vietnam where I taught English to Vietnamese students. While in Hanoi, I worked for a program funded by the US Embassy, English Access Microscholarship Program. The students earned scholarships to the program where they learned English, American geography, customs and holidays. In addition to that, students also worked on an initiative; Helmets 4 Hanoi, where students performed different activities to encourage youth of Hanoi to wear helmets while riding on motorcycles.

After a year in Hanoi, I came back to San Diego where I started my career at the KTM Group (KTM, Husqvarna and WP) as an Event Planner. I’ve had the opportunity to plan events for all three brands. These motorsports-driven events have included global and national press launches, team introductions, dealer meetings, consumer facing events, and motorcycle rallies in the US, Canada and Mexico. I recently received my motorcycle endorsement and I’m excited to take the streets on two wheels. I’m even more excited to experience my first Babes in the Dirt!

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