Tuesday Toolbox: Traci Pickens

Tuesday Toolbox: Traci Pickens

TimeTuesday, October 1, 2019 | 4:05 PM
TimeTuesday, October 1, 2019 | 4:05 PM
Stemming from the grassroots of family racing, Wiseco has over 75 years experience manufacturing pistons, whether it be for fun, weekend riding, or professional racing. Wiseco is one of the few manufacturers forging pistons in the U.S., providing quality and performance you can trust. Click here to see the latest Tech Tips from Wiseco.

Traci Pickens is the most successful female racer in GNCC history. At Mason-Dixon she wrapped up her 12th WXC title! She credits her long and successful career to stubbornness and the many people who have helped her out over the years. The 43 year-old hails from Shamokin Pennsylvania and works as a physical therapist during the week. For the Pickens family, race weekends are family time. Her husband races, and their son just started racing in the Micro division this year.

Traci Pickens earned her 12th GNCC National Championship.
Traci Pickens earned her 12th GNCC National Championship. Ken Hill

GNCCRacing.com: Congrats on another championship! How many is this for you now?

Traci Pickens: A dozen!

That’s incredible! Do any of them really stand out, or do they all start to run together after a while?

Every championship does still have its own special meaning to me, but I would say this one stands out the most to me. Having JP start racing this season was a bit of a game-changer for me. It was exciting but I wasn’t prepared for how it would affect me mentally… I struggled with switching from mom mode to race mode. Luckily I have an amazing husband who has helped me so much this year.

I did notice your son started racing this year. Is he having a good time so far?

Yes, he really enjoys racing. He absolutely loves the GNCC atmosphere too: playing with his race buddies, the champagne showers, getting to talk to all the pro riders, chasing the water truck, riding his bicycle… I could go on and on (laughs).

Pickens battled throughout the season to earn this year's championship. 
Pickens battled throughout the season to earn this year's championship.  Ken Hill

It seems like you’re the energizer bunny of ATV racing. You seem to be able to win year after year. What do you think had allowed you to build such a successful and long-lasting career?

As my husband likes to tell people, I’m stubborn (laughs). That is very true. I also tried to surround myself with amazing and knowledgeable people like my husband Jeff Pickens, Johnny Gallagher, Bill Balance, Laz and Brandon Sommers, Taylor Kisor and Brock Booth. They have all given me so much help and advice over the years. Johnny also learned to translate my ATV language so we could figure out what’s going on and get by bike set up specifically for me.

I’m assuming you have to be passionate about racing to have stuck with it for this long. What do you enjoy the most about it?

I love everything about racing! It makes me happy and it is our family time.

Pickens celebrates with her husband, and son, who also race the GNCC Series.
Pickens celebrates with her husband, and son, who also race the GNCC Series. Ken Hill

Can you tell us a little about your season?

My season was pretty good. It had its ups and downs and the competition was always tight. Alicia, Kate, Megan, Sadiee and Hannah all really pushed my limits race after race.

What do you do for a living, and is it hard to balance that and racing at the top level like you do?

I am a physical therapist assistant in a skilled nursing facility, and have been for 23 years. I have always been the type of person who functions better on a schedule, so I actually think work helps to balance my racing and ensures that I do very high-quality and focused training due to the limited time frame.

Do you have any plans for next season?

I plan on racing!

Is there any advice would you offer up-and-coming racers looking to break into the pro ranks?

Focus on your weaknesses, not on your strengths. And never quit – it’s contagious.

Pickens raced her way to the championship by earning 7 class wins.
Pickens raced her way to the championship by earning 7 class wins. Ken Hill

 What is something you have always wanted to try, but have never gotten around to?

I always wanted to go scuba diving… maybe one day!

Thank you very much, and congrats again on the title! Who would you like to thank?

My husband Jeff, my son JP, and my mom. Todd Moskala, Johnny Gallagher, the Wise family, the Livengood family, the McCormick family and the Hunter family. Racer Productions for giving us such a great venue to race, the GNCC Racing Nation and all of my sponsors: GBC Motorsports, Fly Racing, Yamaha Racing, Spidergraphix, Hiperbyweld, Powermadd, Pierce Performance ATV, Tireballs, HMF Exhause, Scott Motorcports, Waynesburg Yamaha, Quad Tech ATV, DP Brakes, Precision Racing, Amsoil, zbroz_racing, skmraxing_73 Shoei Helmets and IMS Products.