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Interview: Jaycee Jones

Sideburn is a big fan of Royal Enfield's innovative Build.Train.Race programme, covering it since it was announced in 2019. The series is open for US-based women to apply to Royal Enfield to join their dirt track race series (now expanded to dirt and road race). If they are chosen, the rider is given an Interceptor 650 Twin to modify, and a place to race in a season of events as a support race for American Flat Track. The bikes are transported from race to race, the riders travelling to each round on the seven-race schedule.

We noticed Jaycee Jones winning race after race this season, four in a row so far, and got in contact with her for an interview to find out more about her.

Start off by telling us a bit about yourself.

I am 24 years old, I live in Fallbrook CA. and I am a lover of anything on two wheels.

The Build.Train.Race (BTR) intro video explains you're a machinist for Southland Fabrication (is that the correct name?). What is the company's main business?

When I started with the BTR program I was machining at Southland Fabrication and since then I have worked myself up the ladder and am currently doing logistics and planning. Our main products are precision sheet metal work for aerospace, medical, electronic, and lighting industries.

We have featured Gabrielle Hughes (in SB48), another machinist and BTR racer. Do you talk CNC programmes, cutting paths and grades of alloy with her?

Gabrielle and I definitely bonded over machining before anything else. I picked her brain all the time with questions and we would send each other machinist memes. She also has helped with parts of my build. This program has brought so many women from different backgrounds together who all share a passion and it is truly amazing.

What's your history with motorcycles?

I started riding motorcycles at the age of 4. My father, who is the biggest motorcycle fanatic I know, bought me my first bike which was a CRF50 and I started desert riding with him from that day forward. When I am not racing my Royal Enfield or out riding in the dirt I enjoy riding street bikes and my Himalayan adventure bike. You can find me taking weekly trips to the coast to watch the sunset across the ocean.

When did you start racing?

At age 11 I was introduced to flat track by my stepdad and the following year is when I started racing, since then I have done a couple desert races and tried ice racing for the first time this year as well!

What bikes have you raced, and what do you race when you're not on the Enfield?

I currently own a CRF450R for flat track racing, a CRF450X for desert riding and racing. For training I take any opportunity I can to ride a different bike and get outside of my comfort zone. With that being said I opened the door for many opportunities to come my way and I have been able to try different types of racing and bikes throughout the years.

When did you first become aware of Royal Enfield BTR, and how hard was it to get picked for the roster?

I became aware of the BTR program through Melissa Paris. I saw her build and post about the races the year prior and I was unaware that it was a program you could apply for. I took two years off from racing and when I got back out there it was almost immediately she messaged me asking what my plans were for the following year. Melissa explained the program to me and I remember thinking to myself that there is no way I could be part of something so cool but I will give it a shot. She sent me a phone number to call and next thing I knew I was on a phone interview with {Royal Enfield Americas brand manager] Bree Poland herself, one thing led to another and I had a contract in my hand waiting for a stock Royal Enfield INT650 to get delivered to me.

Your bike looks great. What was the thought process of the modification.

The thought process behind my build was to get it done as quickly as possible since time was not on our side. We were still in the middle of COVID so parts were scarce and shipping was delayed on a lot of things. Thankfully with the help from some team sponsors such as S&S Cycles and Dynojet we had help with parts such as exhaust pipes and a power commander to tune the bike.

What are the main modification to your INT 650 and how long did it take to convert it for racing?

I wanted my bike to be simple, fierce, and have a good display of my sponsors. I had two months to turn my bike from stock to race ready. I wanted to take off as much weight as possible as the bike is pretty heavy, I took off all the unnecessary parts that’s not needed on the track, I got quick change wheels from Lowery racing, which is one of the most helpful things I have on the bike.

What was the most difficult part of the conversion?

Luckily I work in a machine shop so I was able to tear down and build the bike in the shop, working on it during my breaks and after work. I had never torn down a bike or built one so I needed a lot of help and had very knowledgeable people around me willing to put in the hours to make this happen. .

Was there anything you wished you'd done, or still plan to do?

With my budget and time frame I ran stock rear shocks and R6 forks for the first season. It was a bumpy ride. It was pretty tough not getting to ride the bike except from the back of the shop to the front where it got picked up and hauled out to the first race. We were able to get the bike built but not comfortable, through the season I was always working towards making the bike more comfortable.

Coming into my second season of BTR I was able to change some major components I had issues with which helped tremendously. I used a different tail section, full suspension set up, and added longer bar backs. The bike is not where I would like it to be, I still have more plans for the INT650. I want to take off the gas tank and put in a fuel cell, adjust the tail section to new tank cover, and a few small things like lowering the right side peg and clean up the wiring harness overall.

Your results have been great, were you confident you'd be a front runner?

Starting anything new with people you don’t know can be intimidating, I wasn’t sure where I would stand with the others on the team racing wise. I didn’t know any of the women on the team personally, only what I gathered through social media. They all have different backgrounds with motorcycles and principles of racing or riding so it was hard to gauge where I would line up with them. When it came time to put the helmet on it was me vs. me. I am my biggest competition and as long as I give it my all, the results will show. I have some good years of racing under my belt and more experience than many on the team and it shows on the track. I am very grateful and humbled to be on this team, let alone be a front runner.

Describe what it's like to be in the pits at AFT rounds and racing on the same day as the best in the world?

Being in the AFT pits with some of the best in the sport feels like an honour. I am constantly watching how the teams work together, how the rider communicates with mechanics and express the issues they are having with the bikes, and listening to them explain the track conditions and what lines to look for. You can learn a lot more by listening than doing. I keep a notebook with me and jot down everything from tire pressure, suspension changes, track conditions to what I’m running for gearing.

Has the AFT pit been welcoming from your POV?

AFT has been very welcoming and accommodating to this program. We’re able to attend riders meetings with all the big names which feels very professional and also have our own meeting to make sure everyone is comfortable and ready. I have been able to make friendships and learn so much from these other teams in the pits and it is incredible to be a part of.

What is the best event you've been involved with thanks to BTR and why?

It is hard to pick out one of the best events I have been involved with through BTR because they all have been amazing and great learning experiences, but if I had to choose one it would be the Black Hills Half-mile in Sturgis 2022. This event is special to me because the day started out rough with racing. My results were not where I wanted them and I struggled all day. I was making small strides towards the front each time I went out. My whole family are motorcycle lovers and I am the first one to ever go to Sturgis. I have so much support behind me and I know my family was living through me when I passed that checkered flag for my fourth win in row this season. It was an amazing feeling and I was holding back tears. The BTR program brings out so many emotions, especially when you are accomplishing your dreams.

Are you getting much feedback about the BTR series turning more women onto dirt track?

Before becoming a part of the team I had no idea there were so many women who rode and raced motorcycles. It has definitely opened up so many doors and friendships. I have met more women than I can count who share the same passion. I've personally had women come up to me and talk about the program saying how great it is and they were just as amazed as I was about how many women are in motorsports. It has inspired them to do things they have been too scared to try. One of the best feelings I have experienced is realizing that I am being looked up to by young girls, becoming a role model, and showing them they are capable of more than they know. It is so special knowing that I am becoming who I looked up to at that age.

When it comes to being converted to dirt track, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the INT 650?

Turning the INT650 into a dirt tracker has been a challenge for sure. The frame and motor have to remain stock, the bike is heavy, and even with Ohlins suspension getting it set up properly has been a hit and miss. All in all with it being stock I have been able to put down some impressive lap times, I am getting more and more comfortable each time I go out, and working through the suspension issues the bike handles well else wise.

We heard you namecheck Robby Bobby McLendon [race promoter, Tank Slappin's Podcast co-host, Turner Honda AFT mechanic...], what involvement does he have?

I met Robby Bobby back in 2018 at Amateur nationals, and again that year at Johnny Lewis slide school; back when it was called 10 training. I was there to train and race at Travelers Rest Speedway. If I need to I know I could go and ask him for help and get the answers I need. At Sturgis this year I was having trouble, he was willing to listen and lend a hand. He was able to get me a better tire for the bike and give me some good pointers that helped me take the checkers.

What next for you and racing? Plans for 2023?

Next year I would love to get involved in more aspects of racing. Nothing has been announced as far as BTR for 2023 so I do not have any solid plans but I want to travel, do more ice racing, desert racing, and hopefully get the opportunity to try road racing. This program has inspired me to get out there more and try all the things I have only dreamt of doing.

Anything else you want to add?

Growing up with a passion for motorcycles and riding for 20 years now, these past couple years have been the most memorable. I am in the middle of living my dreams by traveling, racing, working at motorcycle events, and making lifelong friendships.

Find out more about Build.Train.Race

Photos: American Flat Track, Royal Enfield, Jaycee Jones

#RoyalEnfield #AmericanFlatTrack #WomenWhoRace #JohnnyLewis

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