Rider Profile: Adrienne Cooper
Story by Rodney Rutherford
Photos supplied by Adrienne Cooper
QUAIL VALLEY, CA, 2012
Adrienne “A.C.” Cooper’s 10-year quest for the ultimate prize in Women’s Quad (ATV) racing has arrived. Having raced since 2003, Cooper’s adventure in the American Motorcycle Association Women’s Championship has taken many jumps and ruts, as does the road toward any goal worth striving for.
Glimmerings of her potential glowed brightly early in her career, with two consecutive ITP titles, in 2004 and 2005. Keeping the streak intact, she hit the road in 2006 and tacked down the AMA ATV Women’s Sportsman Championship. Recognized for her exemplary racing skills, she was awarded the 2006 ATV Rookie Of The Year award.
Escalating her efforts, Cooper graduated to the AMA ATV Women’s premier class in 2007, garnering third in the season-ending points standings; she was fourth in 2008, second in 2009, and third in the series points in 2010.
Cooper made a decision to sit out most of 2011 to freshen up her attitude and give her body a chance to recover completely from lingering injuries. She competed in European team quad endurance races in 2010 and 2011, winning two; unfortunately, she was seriously injured in August of 2011. Via a painful airplane journey, she returned stateside for hospitalization and discovered she had a broken tailbone, a fractured elbow, a fractured T-12 vertebra, and a serious concussion. In other words, she was hammered; yet she endured the pain to get across the pond and back to home sweet home. That was supposed to be a year off; nonetheless, after recovering, she went into preparation mode both mentally and physically for 2012.
After her recovery, the 22-year-old felt that 2012 was her best shot at a championship and that she had no time to waste, wanting to capitalize on the fact that her knowledge of racing had matured from quad motocross competition, as well as the endurance events. She credits her European off-roading experience for her ability to view lines, obstacles, and angles of attack on tracks and courses and for the way she approaches a track to minimize effort and mistakes, instead of always simply attacking the tracks.
Taking off the 2011 AMA ATVA series and stepping back to observe others also helped her gain perspective. The strategy helped her implement ideas on the track to establish an efficient flow, decreasing her lap times and enabling her to attack the course in a highly effectual manner. Extensive note-taking is a must for a quad racer, as setting up a four-wheel ATV machine is akin to setting up a race car. Cooper has incorporated the accumulated knowledge of her observations from various tracks with gearing, tire compounds, compression rebound, and the increased confidence of knowing what to expect beyond the generalities. In short, along with pure racing finesse and raw skill, she incorporated a scientific approach into the equation.
Heading into round one of the 2012 AMA ATVA Women’s campaign, Cooper expected nothing short of flashing the number one on the bannered podium at the end of the 10-round series, surrounded by family and friends.
Cooper admitted she had a rough time on the starts during the series, which put her at an immediate disadvantage and forced her to maneuver through traffic instead of checking out from the onset. Cooper started off the series with a second, and then really got the show on the road with back-to-back wins at rounds two and three.
One major hurdle facing Cooper was racing against Women’s ATV legend Heather Byrd. A multiple-time champion, Byrd had won the Women’s elite title from 2008 through 2011, but was reported to have retired from full-time racing for 2012, though she’d decided to race selected rounds. Byrd put Cooper to the test at round four in Walnut, Illinois. Cooper responded by passing Byrd on lap two and won moto one with a three-second margin. Byrd was on the point on lap one of moto two, while Cooper was blocked in at third until the final lap, when she moved into second. She closed in on Byrd but finished second, a few bikelengths behind the winner. The overall victory went to Byrd, but Cooper, with second on the day, proved to herself that she can beat the best, and her confidence blossomed.
Cooper then went on a tear, winning rounds six, seven and eight, running her score up to five overall wins in eight rounds. The round-seven win was bittersweet: After her team’s race rig suffered serious damage under severe storm conditions, including the enclosed awning being destroyed, they also had a right-tire blowout that caused more damage to the right side of the rig afterward.
Resourceful, the team regrouped and made it to round eight in Unadilla, New York, two weeks later and scored their third win in a row and clinched the 2012 AMA ATV Women’s title. Cooper had Katie Mette challenge her in both motos, but she put the exclamation point on her first Women’s title by sweeping the class.
Swashbuckling with Byrd one last time in the series at round nine, Cooper’s track-walking confidante Chloe Buerster won the race, but Cooper further built up her confidence by chalking up a 2-2 tally for second; Byrd went 4-3 for third.
Finishing up at round 10, Cooper smashed her body into her handlebars after an awkward landing while running in first in moto one, though she recovered to take fifth. Shaken, she remounted for moto two and rode for second, and third overall.
Cooper was the only racer to have more than one overall win in the series accumulating five, as well as four second-place finishes and one third-place overall finish. Her fifth in moto one at round 10 was the only time during the series she finished worse than third in a moto.
Cooper achieved the goal of becoming a champion through endurance, hard work, pain, dedication, family, and attention to the intricacies. In 2013, A.C. will be taking her speed to the 2013 Yamaha Quad-Cross Series, competing in the Pro-Am ranks and competing with the men.
Cooper would like to thank Dasa Racing, PEP Suspension, Walsh Racecraft, Maxxis Tires, DWT Wheels, Fly Racing, Pro Armor, Renthal, Quad Tech, Fly, SSI Decals, Sidewinder, Lonestar, Uni, FPS, Scott, Powermadd, Precision, Tsubaki, Hinson Clutches, Julius Cooper, and Jeanne Cooper.
A.C. can be contacted at. email@example.com for quad-riding class instructions and about sponsorship inquiries.
[This article was reprinted from the October 2012 issue of S&S Off-Road Magazine – www.sandiegooffroad.com/ and www.facebook.com/SSOffRoadMagazine… Editor]