Ashley Fiolek — Befriends Noora, an Iranian Racer

Last year, my mom and I read a newspaper article about Noora Moghaddas, who had just won a championship race in Iran, and was asked what her dreams were. One of them, she said, was to come to America to meet me, and possibly to race with me. She had read about some of my accomplishments, along with my efforts to bring equality to women’s motocross here in the United States. Noora wanted to achieve some of those same goals in Iran.

My family and I sat down with a couple of my sponsors to figure out how we could set up a visit between Noora and me. A lot of people worked behind the scenes to make it happen. Around that time, however, my race season was getting started, and I got busy and forgot about the whole thing.

Then, at the end of August 2010, I got an email from Noora letting me know she was coming to America. Once again, my team and I got busy to see what we could do to make her dream of racing with me and the other US Women’s Motocross competitors come true.

I talked with Honda and a team called Factory Connection to make sure we could get Noora a bike, once she arrived. My gear company, AlpineStars, also hooked her up with some great gear! She was going to be able to race on Southwick, one of the gnarliest tracks on the circuit.

We had to work with the race promoters to get her signed up, and to get her the proper license to race in an American Motorcyclist Association competition. It was a lot of work, but in the end everyone pulled together, and we the pieces fell into place.

When Noora and I first saw each other at the airport, we ran to give each other a hug. We were so excited to finally meet! Communication was a little difficult at first. Her English was rough, and I signed, of course! But soon we got into a rhythm and understood one another. We talked mostly about our love of motocross. She told me that motocross in Iran was not like it is in the United States, as Iran only has one motocross track, and not many girls race or ride it, so Noora was pretty excited to ride with me!

She and I rode at a few local tracks together and just hung out. It turns out that she is just as goofy as I am. We had a great time laughing, riding and having fun! We shared our goals to improve conditions for girls and women in our respective countries. She told me she wants to set up classes and races that will get more Iranian girls involved in motocross. It was helpful to bounce our ideas off of each other.

Noora joined my family when we headed up to Massachusetts for the race. Everything was set to go, and she was both nervous and excited. She enjoyed being around the other girls, and they all loved having her there. It was a great time for everyone.

Noora ended up crashing a couple of times, and got a little bruised up, but I don’t think she would have traded the experience for anything. I was glad to have her racing beside me and, over all, I think she had a great time out on the track.

Months later, I received another text from Noora saying she was “in the States.” We all looked forward to seeing her again! This time, she brought her husband and introduced him to everyone. She also brought a videographer, who is making a film about her.

Noora continues in her quest to help Iranian women learn how to ride, race and become stronger. I hope to be a part of that important mission with her, so that we can both share our love of motocross with people in other countries! It is great to know our world is really not that big. Even with different languages and cultures, we can all come together and share something we feel passionate about.

A Different World
Iran’s #1 Female Motocross Racer

When Noora Moghaddas, a top motocross competitor in the Middle East, visited the United States at our columnist Ashley Fiolek’s behest, she discovered that language is not the only thing that can get lost in translation. After enduring a series of mishaps, the Iranian champion finally got on the right track. Here, Moghaddas, the daughter of motorcycling enthusiasts—including a father who’s owned a motorcycle repair shop in Iran for 20 years, and a mother who’s ridden motorbikes for more than two decades—talks about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness with ABILITY’s Chet Cooper. They met and rode recently at a motocross track in Riverside, CA.

Chet Cooper: Have you noticed any differences between motocross here and motocross in Iran?

Noora Moghaddas: Yes, there are things here that we don’t have yet in Iran. For instance, we have jumps, but not on every track.

Cooper: Do you like jumps?

Moghaddas: I do, but the jumps were really scary at first.

Cooper: You just can’t look down!

Moghaddas: (laughs) Right.

Cooper: In what other countries have you raced?

Moghaddas: Just Iran and now America. First I’d like to make it big in Iran, and then I’d like to travel to other countries to ride and race. In Iran, there are no girls who are really good, so I can’t race against them. I would like to compete with professional racers who are better than me so that I can improve. I first learned to ride when I was four years old, from my dad, who was a motorcross champion in Iran.

Cooper: How did you come to speak English so well?

Moghaddas: When I was six or seven, my mom sent me to English class, and I continued until I was 10 or 11. I listened to American music, like Madonna, so I could learn the lyrics. From there, I looked up words in the dictionary and picked up a lot of English from them. I also watch lots of American shows, like How I Met Your Mother.

Cooper: I’ll let Bob Saget know. How did you developed a relationship with Ashley?

Moghaddas: I saw her in a magazine in Iran in my father’s store. It’s a motocross store, where parts are sold and repairs are done. My father showed me that there was a girl in America and she was then 19, and I read the article where she said, “If you want something you can get it.” I loved that about her. Then I found out that she was deaf, and she started racing when she was really young. And suddenly it was like, “Oh, I have to meet her some day!”

She’s like me, but in a different way! She’s deaf, and I’m a girl in Iran who cannot find acceptance to ride easily, so we both have it a bit hard. I tried to e-mail her but didn’t receive a response, so I was disappointed.

Meanwhile, some girls and I created a motocross club and set up a race, which was the first women’s race in Iran’s history. Lots of countries were interested in this, and they called and interviewed me because I became the first. Some of the girls were the wives or daughters of the male riders.

Cooper: You won the race?

Moghaddas: Yes, and my mother came in second.

Cooper: And that’s because you turned off the fuel lines for all the other bikes?

Moghaddas: (laughs) And I punched holes in the other riders’ tires. No, just kidding. Actually, I tried hard to get more girls to race, but lots of them were like, “Oh, we cannot do it. We’re not used to racing.” But I told them that it doesn’t matter if you lose or win. The race makes you stronger and teaches you lots of things about riding. If you practice, you learn a little, but if you race, you learn a lot. And they came and raced, and they were really happy when they finished. Everybody was happy. I’ve never seen so many people…

Articles in the John C. McGinley Issue; Ashley Fiolek — Befriends Noora, an Iranian Racer; Noora Moghaddas — Befriends Ashley, a US Racer; Humor — To Anchorage With Love Sen. Tom Harkin — Jobs + Education = American Dream; Raketu — Cool Apps for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Adaptive Golf — The Fight Over Carts; USBLN — Annual Conference in Kentucky; Kessler Foundation — Research That Gets People Moving; Food Deserts — Activists Help Communities Get Good Food; John C. McGinley — Expanding His Role; John Sie — A Career That Spans Tech, TV and Top Research; Global Down Syndrome — Bringing Their ‘A’ Team; DLRC — A Fight to Protect a Boy and His Dog; Betsy Valnes — On Creating a World Disability Congress; ABILITY’s Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences…


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