Kickin’ up Dirt

When I first started as a professional motocross racer about five years ago, women used to have to park outside the racing area. Later, when they started to include us in the sport, we were able to move in and park where the men parked.

Initially, women didn’t get any TV coverage, but then highlights of our events were added and a TV series was created. Women began to get press and it seemed we were only moving up! But then the economy tanked and everyone in motocross took a hit, especially women racers. It’s very hard for anyone to make a living in this sport, but if you’re never showcased or talked about, you can’t get sponsors and stay in the game.

At the start of the 2012 season, I announced that it would be my last year racing in the Women’s Motocross Championship (WMX) series. I wasn’t retiring, I just didn’t want to be a part of the series any more. Over the course of my pro years, I tried to get more changes made to the woman’s side of racing, but it seemed that all the progress we’d made started to slide backwards.

Our schedules were constantly changed and/or cut back. Women also lost TV exposure, which made it more difficult to get sponsors. At the first round of the 2012 racing series, we showed up and were told we weren’t going to have a sight lap and then we were told we were only going to get one moto. It’s hard when you’re getting paid to do your job—a dangerous one at that—and then you can’t have a look at the track before hand to get familiar with it, or when you depend on two motos or heats for a race and then you get only one, which means you can’t accumulate as many points.

At every round something got switched up or downgraded. Promoters told us they loved having women in the races, but then they’d publish things like, “This is a make-or-break year for the WMX!” It was so frustrating because we’d come so far. Now everything has been taken away, again.

I felt that it was up to the men in charge to make the changes that showed women in motocross were valued. But they didn’t want to listen to anyone from the WMX and because of that, I no longer wanted to be a part of the series. It didn’t feel right to me that we were risking our lives, but getting little or nothing in return. So I walked away.

When this year’s racing season started, I was glad that I made that decision. Women’s racing was cut from eight rounds to only three. It’s no longer a “championship” race but a

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“triple crown” race and women don’t have pro licenses anymore. They’re only required to have an American Motorcycle Association card, and they have to pay to race. You also have to pay for your travel to the races and hotel stay. I had a mechanic and a trainer that I also had to pay. It’s very expensive.

This year, I planned on racing in the X games, which are now worldwide. But due to a lack of support for female athletes, I couldn’t even get a factory to back me or get paid to ride anymore. I decided to take this year off and explore other interests. I’ve been thinking of possibly racing cars.

In the meantime, I took a college class, got a small part in a soon-to-be released movie, SuperDeafy, and gave a few motivational speeches at schools. I’ll keep you posted about what’s in store for the future.

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By Ashley Fiolek


SuperDeafy the movie

Articles in the Scott Baio Issue; Senator Harkin — Trying to Make it Work; Ashley Fiolek — Kickin’ up Dirt; Humor — Die Laughing; Geri Jewell — Pet Power; Eva Feldman, MD, PhD — ALS and Stem Cell Therapy; Beyond Silence — Deafness in India; Long Haul Paul — Q&A with a PA; Models of Diversity — Embrace it! ; Governor Markell — Blueprint to Employment; China — A Coach with Passion; EMPOWER — Global Inclusion; FREEJ — Grandmothers Rule; MIT — Leveraged Freedom Chair; Scott Baio — Happy Days; MADA — Global Assistive Technology; ABILITY’s Crossword Puzzle; Events and Conferences…subscribe

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