GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Jesse Ansley

Tuesday Toolbox: Jesse Ansley

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | 1:35 PM
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | 1:35 PM

Jesse Ansley won his first ever XC3 event at his hometown race of Wild Boar two weeks ago. Many of you may remember him from his overall youth championship several years ago, but now the 17-year old from Bradenton, Florida is beginning to make waves in the pro ranks. After a podium finish at The General last weekend, he has moved up to 3rd in points, in what is shaping up to be a tight battle and a very competitive class. 

Jesse Ansley is currently third in the points championship for the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class.
Jesse Ansley is currently third in the points championship for the FMF XC3 125 Pro-Am class. Ken Hill Congrats on your win at Wild Boar! You’ve got to be excited….

Jesse Ansley: Yeah, I am pretty stoked! It’s been …. Well, I wouldn’t say a long time coming, but I’ve dreamed about this day for a long time. It is only XC3, but it is still a Pro-Am class win. So I’m really excited! 

I bet! So tell me about your race. It looked like you had a bit of a rough start!

That’s right ….. unfortunately I went down in the second turn. I was able to quickly regroup though, and actually made a pass for the lead around mile four. That wasn’t the end of it though. I made a rookie mistake by forcing the issue. I went in a little too fast, got a little too greedy with it, and ended up sliding out while trying to make that pass on first place. That took me back again, all the way to seventh or eighth. I learned my lesson though – I know for next time to be a little more patient because I have three hours to make that pass. I don’t have to do it on the first lap. After that second crash, I had a hard time getting into a rhythm. I felt like I had the speed but just couldn’t find my flow, just kept making mistakes. Around lap three I had caught back up and made a pass for the lead again. Jason [Raines] and I went back and forth for about a lap. I think my youth turned out to be an advantage here, even though my inexperience gave me problems earlier in the race. I pulled a good size gap and held on to it until the finish. 

Was it especially exciting to take home your first pro class win at your hometown race?

Yeah, it was exciting to be able to share that moment with all of my family and friends who came out to watch me race. Honestly though, I wish I would haven been able to put it together at round one, just because I was in a pretty good position to win there early on, and getting those points would have been nice. But things happen, and sometimes those things are out of our control. On the bright side, we know how to prevent that particular thing from happening again, as well as some of the other little things we need to do to keep our program competitive. But back to the question, yes, it was pretty special to get the win in my home state!

Ansley held the lead in South Carolina before experiencing problems, and ultimately finished the race in 12th.
Ansley held the lead in South Carolina before experiencing problems, and ultimately finished the race in 12th. Ken Hill

Were you expecting to be this competitive in your first year racing XC3? 

I was so far off the pace last year that no, I wasn’t really expecting this. We do have a really good program right now though, so maybe I should have been. I’m following in some really good footsteps: I have a great trainer right now and he obviously knows what it takes to win. When I was in the lead in South Carolina, it was kind of a relief because I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I knew that I had the speed to run up front and even with our problems I came out of the race happy to know how far I’ve come in the last couple of months.

Was it a challenge having to drop back to a 125cc after having ridden a 250 all last season? 

Actually not as bad as I thought! It’s been pretty fun. The first time I got back on a 125cc was at my buddy Jack Chambers’ house. My 250cc broke while we were riding and he offered to let me jump on one of his 125s. It was kind of a funny thing, because I actually ended up officially getting my 125cc the next day. That whole first day at Jack’s house I was just smiling and having a great time. In a way it’s more fun to ride just because it is so much lighter and easier to control than a 250cc four-stroke. I think that was one of my problems last year. I wasn’t out of control or anything, but I sometimes struggled to muscle the bike around and ride it the way it needed to be ridden. I was never really 100% comfortable on it. 

So, have you encountered any major challenges running XC3 so far this season?

Well, we’re only a few rounds in, so I don’t have a good answer for that question. I anticipate that it is going to be hard to be consistently up front every race. There are a lot of guys in this class that have the potential to win on any given weekend. You just have to be as consistent as you can. Some days you will have to take a second or a third. I am a racer, but you have to be almost okay with that, because you have to look at the long-term big picture of your season. The goal is to win a championship, and you can’t win championships dropping out or getting hurt.

At Round two, Ansley took the win in his home state of Florida.
At Round two, Ansley took the win in his home state of Florida. Ken Hill

That’s a really mature attitude to take. It’s hard to win a championship if you hurt yourself and miss rounds because you were overriding trying to win a single race. Sounds like something your Grandpa Tom would say. Speaking of that, are you still living with your grandparents so that you can train? 

Yep, I’m still living with them. This is my sixth year with them now, and it helps a bunch. I get the question pretty often as to whether or not I still communicate with my parents and siblings. I do, I love them very much, and they are so supportive of what I’m doing. It was really hard for them to let go of me at such a young age. But in the long run we all knew that living with my grandparents would be more beneficial and get me where I wanted to be as a racer, and as a person too.

I didn’t realize that you’d been living with them for so long. Most of us came to know you when you won the youth overall back in 2015, but how long before then were you running the GNCC series? 

My first official season was 2012. I did a couple of Florida rounds before that but 2012 was my first year doing the series. I took 2013 off, but I haven’t missed a year since. So I’ve been here for awhile, but it really doesn’t seem like it. I feel like I just started yesterday sometimes. The biggest advantage of being here so many years is that you start to learn the properties. You know where the big mudholes will probably form and the special obstacles will be. You feel more confident going in with some knowledge, especially if you’ve had good rides there in the past.

And how did you get started riding in the first place? 

It was kinda weird how it happened. No one in my family really wanted me to ride because of how dangerous it is. But my uncle and grandpa Tom rode and were around it all the time, and I never could figure out what they all thought was so special about me that I needed to be kept safe from it (laughs). They made the mistake of letting me come to a race as a little kid to watch, and I absolutely loved it! I didn’t have any interest in my bicycle anymore, I was so pumped on dirt bikes. They finally relented and got me my first bike. I haven’t looked back since.

Ansley is looking to be consistent every race, and contend for the FMF XC3 title.
Ansley is looking to be consistent every race, and contend for the FMF XC3 title. Ken Hill

Looking forward now, what are your goals for the rest of the season? 

I just want to be consistent, and make every race count. If I can do that, I should be in contention for a title. I think I have a lot to prove this year, and it’s good to have that pressure.

Last year I ended up finishing fourth in 250 A, and standing up there on the stage at the end of the year… I don’t know. I mean it’s great to be in fourth ……. you know what, actually it’s not. It’s better than it could have been of course, but it wasn’t satisfying at all. That helped to light a fire under me. I remember waking up that next morning being ready for next season to start, and I’m excited to see where this year takes me. 

Last question – is it true that you put Pepsi in your water bottles that they hand off to you? 

Yes and no (laughs). On the last lap, I do get a bottle mixed with half Pepsi and half water. It’s kind of out of my diet, but it’s a really good sugar rush which helps you out on that last lap. That was actually a trick I learned from Chris Bach, and I think it is a really good one. The rest of the bottles I take throughout the race are a mixture of Pedialyte and water. 

Who would you like to thank? 

I would like to thank Tom and Ellen Fleming, Steve Thompson Homes, RPM KTM, Maxxis, FMF, IMS, Pro Moto Billet, Klim, Sidi, Just 1, HBD Graphix, Seat Concepts, DP Brakes, DT1 Air Filters, TM Designs, Motion Pro, Engine Ice, Central Florida Powersports, Nihilo, Rekluse, Motorex Oils, TF Racing Suspension, SuperCool Bike Shop, BulletProof Designs, DDC Racing and Nitro Mousse.