Remember When?
Mercedes Gonzales
Mercedes Gonzales and Mark Johnson 1987 Loretta Lynn'sWomen's Amateur National Champion Mercedes Gonzales Kawasaki Team Green
Mercedes Gonzales and Mark Johnson, Head of Team Green, 1989 Loretta Lynn's Women's Championship 1987 Loretta Lynn'sWomen's Amateur National Champion Mercedes Gonzales Kawasaki Team Green Poster
- click for a larger version -    

Once the princess of women's amateur motocross racing Mercedes Gonzales of Arleta, California went down in the motocross history books as one of the all time best female motocross champions. She was 5 time Women's MX Champion at Loretta Lynn's Amateur Nationals, 9 times Women's MX National Champion WMSA, WMXA, WMISA. And she has many multi-women's titles at Mammoth Mountain MX in California over the last two decades.

Her first bike was a Honda 50 trail bike that she piloted through the woods. At age 15, she mounted her first 125cc machine and then moved on to competed on both the Kawasaki KX 125 and KX 250 bikes. Throughout most of her racing career her toughest competitor was Lisa Akin Wagner, another all time female motocross champion. Gonzales and Akin had heated battles through the years, especially at the AMA Amateur Nationals in Hurricane Mills, TN. Akin held the National Number 1 plate until 1986, when a flat tire cost her the title and Gonzales earned the checkered flag to claim the 1998 Women's AMA National Championship.   In 1987, Gonzales at the AMA Amateur Nationals, Gonzales rode with smoothness and consistency to sweep all three motos to earn the national crown for the second straight year. She also won in 1989, '90 and '91

Gonzales rode mostly on the West Coast, where there is little humidity, and she always had to make a special effort each year to prepare for the Loretta Lynn's Nationals. She always liked the tracks in the East because they were so different than those in the West. "I like the soil content on the East Coast better." the friendly Californian explained. "The tracks are slower but are a lot more technical than those in California. The humidity in Tennessee had a big affect on me. Year after year, I tried to train with a couple of jerseys on the hottest days in California, but you really can't train for it out there. The only way to prepare for it is to be in the humidity. I made sure I drank a lot of liquids before I came to Tennessee. I always trained so hard for that race, yet I always got tired."

Gonzales was fortunate in her career to have had but a few injuries. She believed training helped keep her injuries to a minimum. She bicycled three times a week for 20-25 miles. Then she would ride her dirt bikes twice a week for two hours on her private practice track. She would also try to make time to jet ski. And then at night she would spend a couple of hours playing tennis, which she used to play a lot in high school.

Besides her training, Gonzales also believes good nutrition is vital to keeping fit for motocross. "I love mom's cooking. I always tried not to eat a lot of greasy foods. I would eat lots of fruit and spaghetti. The night before a race, I would usually eat any kind of pasta and salad. I would drink a gallon of water the day before a race. My race-morning breakfast usually consisted of a bowl of nutritious cereal and a cup of coffee. I have drank coffee since I was five-years old."

Gonzales offered this advice, "Training takes alot of time and dedication. You are probably going to have pain, and if you stay with motocross, you probably will get hurt. But if you want to be number one, you have to sacrifice yourself. Also, take care of your sponsors. I would like to encourage other women to go out and race because there is not enough female competition during the regular season. It is growing though. On a regular race day, I would race with guys, which helped me improve. Without the help of my mom and my family, especially my brother, Jose, who was my mechanic, I wouldn't even have been racing."

Mercedes Gonzales was deemed the "Fastest Woman in Motocross" in 1992 but as she was at the top of her motocross career she made a decision to leave the sport to begin a new career in mountain bike racing. She became very successful in this sport also as she won International Titles including the 1995 Silver Medallist Downhill Mountain Bike World Championship in Germany, 1996 Bronze Medallist European Championship in Italy, and 1998 Spanish Downhill National Champion. She also was the first woman to win a Mickey Thompson Off-Road Series event.

Mercedes worked for a while as a full-time AXO-Sinasolo sales representative while still training for motocross. She is married to former Loretta Lynn's motocross competitor Derek Natvig and they have one son, Cameron. She is an active supporter of the Women's Motocross League.

Back to Remember When Index
All Rights Reserved
Suspension Plus, Inc.
104 Karstwood Court
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Phone - 270-234-9554