When Kacy Martinez’s dad, Mark, first put her on a dirt bike during a family camping trip, the then-8-year-old Kacy rode it straight into a wooden fence.
Martinez was unfazed, however. She got back on the bike. Little did she or her dad know at the time, but that second effort would launch a career that has seen the FMF KTM rider become one of the premier women off-road racers in America today.
In the 2014 AMSOIL AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, Martinez has five class wins and one second-place finish through the first six rounds of the series. In the overall results of the morning session, which can include nearly 400 riders an event, Martinez has placed as high as fifth.
Most kids get involved in the sport because one or both of their parents are long-time riders. Martinez says her whole family started riding together.
“My dad and I pretty much started riding at the same time,” she explains. “His friend took him out riding once, and he came home and started looking online for used dirt bikes. He got one for both of us. My first dirt bike was a (Yamaha) PW80. We went out a couple times, then he bought my mom and my sister a dirt bike too, and it became a weekend family camping thing.”
Martinez says some of her best memories are camping with her dad, her mom, Cindy, and her sister, Marqui.
“Our local riding area is Hollister Hills (State Vehicular Recreation Area),” she says. “We had a great time, and met some good friends. Then, we heard about a national hare scramble at Hollister, and that was my first race. After that, we started doing hare scrambles in AMA District 36.”
Kacy, who was 12 when she started racing, started winning her class in AMA District 36 events. She and her dad decided to make a larger commitment to national-level competition. For 2014, that journey has led her to one of the most-popular AMA-sanctioned series: Grand National Cross Country.
Martinez says that while the series, which is mostly in the eastern United States, is a long way from her central and northern California stomping grounds, it feels like home to her.
“Although I grew up riding out west, I raced more hare scrambles,” Martinez says. “So for me, racing the GNCCs is a little bit like coming back to my roots. I really like riding single track.”
Martinez also says she’s impressed by the professionalism of the series.
“The series is awesome,” she says. “They’re really working hard to get women out there and get our names out there. It’s just crazy how many spectators come out and watch the whole show, so it really helps to advance women in the sport if we have a good platform at the GNCCs.”
Martinez says this is aided by the GNCC/hare scrambles format, which puts multiple classes on the course at once, allowing a direct comparison between men and women racers.
“After every race, we have an overall podium, which combines all the classes, so we have an opportunity to get up there with the guys,” she says. “This shows that women can do it, too, not just in their own class but overall.”
Martinez wants an AMA national No. 1 plate in GNCC competition.
“I want to win a couple titles in the GNCC series,” she says. “I’d also like to get an X Games gold medal for EnduroCross. After that, I would like to have a career in the industry and help the off-road women’s market grow.”
Martinez is often asked for advice from young girls. She keeps it simple.
“When you start getting more serious about racing, and you start training more and riding more, always keep it fun,” she says. “Don’t overwhelm yourself, and always look back to the fun you had and why you wanted to ride in the first place.”
Kacy Martinez is an AMA member from Fremont, California, who was featured in the July 2014 dirt/competition edition of American Motorcyclist.