Fire up your bikes, ladies, because motorcycle racing is one of the fastest-growing sports for women, with more joining the sport every year. In fact, according to a Motorcycle Industry Council statistic, nearly one in eleven motorcycle riders is a woman, a much higher figure than that found in the years past. What's more, the MIC expects those numbers to get even higher in the future.
According to Melissa Shimmin of www.women.motorcycle.com, In the past two years, the AFM (American Federation of Motorcyclists) has seen a huge influx of new, female racers. Women racers increased by 50% from 1998 to 1999 and there are more giving it a go every weekend.
So why all of a sudden are females popping in to the nearest motorcycle race track near you and giving the sport a shot? Truth is, quite a few of them have been at the tracks for most of their lives.
Many were introduced to the sport through participating friends or family members; plus, some young girls began dirt bike racing just for fun with their brothers during family outings. But although some may have dropped out in the past as the pressure of competition became more and more intense, today's girls are persevering. Or taking up the sport again as adults involved with club racing, hopping on their bikes about once a month to race on tracks where their points are tallied to see who will be the overall champion and who will be eating dirt.
Just picture embracing a powerful machine hugging the curves
of a road as the wind blows past your hair and its easy to see how this
adrenaline-pumping activity has captivated female thrill-seekers across the
nation and abroad. In fact, the sport has gained even more popularity in Europe
than it has in the United States.
And although motorcycle racing has typically been considered a male sport and though it may still certainly be male-dominated, scores of female racers are turning heads on the track and, quite frankly, might soon be making some male riders a little nervous. It's worth noting that men and women do not race separately, so some females are bound to leave their male counterparts eating dust.
Consider Angelle Savoie, who currently owns the most wins for a female in the National Hot Rod Association and was named the 2000 Winston Pro Stock Motorcycle Champion. In a recent interview, Savoie suggested that the appeal of motorcycle drag racing -- which covers a quarter mile straightaway -- extends from the fact that it is a mental sport with an addictive physical dimension. Savoie also insisted that racing is so attractive to her because she considers herself extremely competitive. However, she noted that there is one complicated drawback to being a woman drag racer -- she would have to give up the sport she loves should she decide to have a family. When you're racing at 190 miles per hour, there are certain obvious dangers to consider, ones she couldnt imagine taking if she was a mother.
Which is why she plans on accomplishing all her racing goals
before that inevitable time comes. "I'd like to win another championship,"
she told Motoworld.com recently. "Winning it one time is great but who
wants to put one-time champion on the side of their trailer or in their race
shop? It's always better to say two-time World Champion or three-time World
Champion so I'm here to do it again and I'll be back until I do it again."
Another area of motorcycle racing picking up momentum is club racing. At the historic Willow Springs International Raceway in Southern California, members of its motorcycle club race once a month. Men and women race together but are divided into groups determined by the size of their motorcycles engine.
This type of competition, called road racing, is highly different from drag racing. And Willow Springs track -- whose shape most closely resembles the outline of a handgun -- is filled with S-curves, making it less about speed and more about coordination and endurance. But track shape and size aside, many female racers from Willow Springs say that competition isnt really the big issue -- it is more about the camaraderie, making friends and sharing a mutual interest with a like-minded group of athletes.
Of course, there is always the thrill of speed.
Many say that speed and excitement is what initially prompted them to look into motorcycle racing. Keeping up the hobby and taking to the track seem like a logical next step. Already a higher level of challenge -- since you can only go so fast on a normal road -- track racing, like all sports, requires skill and one of the easiest ways to hone them is by joining a club. On a track everyone is going in the same direction, hoping to accomplish the same goal, a uniform action that offers students of the sport some security and safety.
So, the question has to be asked -- do the men have any problems with it?
Some racers' believe that while some men may object to women racing, most of the men are ultimately happy to see women on the track. Which is fitting because when females first began racing, there were only maybe two or three women on the track; now the number has increased to somewhere between eight and ten.
And while some male feathers might be ruffled by the fact that within such a short span of time women have quadrupled their numbers and become more of a presence in motorcycle road racing, men are generally congratulatory when female competitors win a race.
As a matter of fact, the male riders at Willow Springs at least should be used to it to it by now. One of their own, Vicky Jackson Bell, races at Willow Springs has won several championships there. She is also one of the best-known female road racers in the states.
So, ready or not, guys, here come the ladies. And they've come to stay.
|© Melt Magazine 2002|