Tessa Hoff is small for her age, kind of petite. If she told you she was into ballet, you’d believe her. Instead, 11-year-old Tessa is into motocross, a type of motorcycle racing on enclosed off-road circuits.
She got into a couple years ago, after her father, Jay Hoff, started racing. Her first race was at the Washington County Fair last summer.
“She got out there, she was the only girl,” recalls her dad. “She had such a save on a wipe out, then she got up and the crowd went crazy.”
“I could hear the crowd and it made me happy,” Tessa says.
Last month, Jay asked Tessa if she’d be interested in racing at NEMA's Southwick Motocross Track (Moto338), a legendary moto course in Massachusetts known as “the world’s fastest sandbox.”
When she said yes, the family packed up and went to Southwick for the weekend. Tessa has twin brothers age 7.
All three Hoff kids tried the course, as it turned out. Tessa, however, kept going back, competing against six other girls, ages 9 to 15.
“She had a couple of spills on her first moto,” says Jay. “She came back very upset and crying. She just was dogged, determined to go again.”
She competed in two more 15-minute races, these two the ones that counted.
“You don’t realize how long it is until you’re sitting there waiting,” says Jay.
Tessa agrees: “I’m out there waiting for it to end. Please be the checkered flag.”
The Southwick course is tough. It’s a sand circuit and the uphills are very steep.
“It’s tough, that track is very tough,” says Jay. “The crashes there were epic for some of the kids.”
Tessa fell even more the second time on the course.
“I finished, but I kind of fell more because I was thinking too much about one spot.”Jay asked her, do you want to go again? She did.
“She got in there, and next thing you know she’s finishing,” he says. “She just cleaned up and just took it.”
“It’s one of the proudest moments of my life, seeing you cross the finish line. You did very good,” Jay says, looking at his daughter.
With scores quickly tallied, Tessa was the winner.
“I was happy,” she says nonchalantly.
What is it about moto? Competition’s part of it, but says Tessa, there’s something more.
“It’s relaxing, you forget about pretty much everything.”
Moto, of course, is only one part of Tessa’s life. As a sixth grader, she’s got her school work. She joined the Cole cross-country team this fall and she’s in her second year as a violinist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
But last weekend she was racing again. The family traveled to Capeway Motocross in Carver, Mass. With no other girls in the race, Tessa competed with boys in a faster class of bikes, placing 17th out of 20.
“Now she wants a faster bike,” says Jay.