A ton has happened since I last blogged. When I last wrote we had just tested in Brainerd. We scrapped together the money and made the long trip to Chicago for the Route 66 race and I was so excited heading back to the place where I got my first round win. In Brainerd we had really made progress, and I was feeling comfortable and confident on my new bike. I was also extremely excited to get the opportunity to work with Jimmy and Greg Underdahl again.
The night before our first qualifying pass, I couldn't sleep. All I could do was lay in bed and think about how I couldn't wait to get out on the track. Unfortunately, luck has not been on our side this season. After all the hard work that went into my bike before Chicago, we couldn't get it to run right and I had to abort all four qualifying runs.
Everybody worked so hard trying to get me down the race track. Jimmy, Greg, and Gary Stoffer all put in so much time and hard work trying to figure out the problem. Unfortunately it was just one of those little glitches that we couldn't find in the four qualifying sessions. I was really bummed, and I could tell everyone else was too. However, I just can't thank Jimmy, Greg, and Gary enough for how hard they worked.
Usually our team races in Denver and Sonoma, the two Pro Stock Motorcycle races in the western swing, because they are the closest races to us. I was a little bummed out because we really didn't have time to get my bike ironed out between Chicago and Denver. So you can imagine my excitement when I got a call from Greg asking if I wanted to ride the Jimmy’s Suzuki at those two events. I was all smiles after that because it was a really great opportunity for me.
Even though we didn't qualify in Denver, I really feel like we are moving in the right direction. Greg always tells me that it takes every piece of the puzzle to make one of these bikes go fast. I now really understand what he means by that. It's not easy. It takes everything to come together: the bike, the crew, the rider. In the couple days we were in Denver I learned so much. The Underdahl’s and the Stoffer’s all really helped me with pointers on my riding. Plus I am learning a ton from them about tuning these bikes and making them go straight.
All in all, Denver was a pretty cool experience for me. Karen Stoffer has always been a huge hero since I was a little girl. To get the opportunity to learn from her is pretty awesome. What a great lady! There was also something else that made Denver really special for me. I finally got to compete with my dad at a national event. It was amazing to get to look in the other lane and see the person who has helped me achieve my goals and now watch him achieve his own goals. For my whole racing career my dad put aside his racing to help me. He has spent countless hours in the garage with me, driving to race tracks with me, and crewing for me all to help me go after my dreams. Thanks for everything dad, and I am really proud of you!
Now moving forward from Denver, we are headed to Sonoma. I feel really good about Sonoma. Jimmy is very smart and he is doing a great job as the crew chief for our team. A huge thank you to all of them for everything and also a very big thank you to Doug Johnson for the opportunity to ride his bike. Hope to see everyone in Sonoma!
I spent this past weekend testing in Brainerd, Minn, with Greg and Jimmy Underdahl. On Friday, I was able to make five passes which is the most runs I have made on a bike in a long time in a single day. On the first run, the bike came off the line and immediately started taking me to the left. We started moving the axle, and by the end of the day it was working perfectly and the feeling was absolutely amazing. The bike was leaving the line, and I didn’t have to make any sort of correction. Looking back, I feel like we took a huge step in the right direction.
On the fifth pass we had a line come off of the air shifter, and when that happened, it bent a shift fork in the transmission. We didn’t realize what had happened until the following day so I was only able to make two more runs. A bent shift fork is not a huge deal, and it isn’t too expensive to fix however, Greg said if we kept riding, it could turn into a bigger problem, so we decided we better quit running the bike for the weekend.
All in all it was a pretty amazing time in Brainerd. Greg and Jimmy are pretty great to work with at the track. Not only did they help me get my bike sorted out, but they taught me a ton about riding and being fluid on the bike. They are super patient and made sure they explained what they were doing to the bike and why. That was pretty huge for me, I am on my way home now with my head spinning with new information. I love it!
I also had the opportunity to spend some time with Greg’s wife, Tina, and Jimmy’s wife, Kelly. Tina and Kelly are really great people; they made me feel right at home with them. We only tested on Friday and Saturday, so I spent Sunday at Greg and Tina’s house. I did a little bit of work on my trailer, and then Tina asked me if I wanted to go ride horses with them. That was a lot of fun; I haven’t ridden horses in years.
Now I am headed home, and back to the real world. My Tough Girl Designs graphics business has been really busy, which is amazing. However, it keeps me occupied, and helps me learn more about running a successful business. I am also looking to get back on the track at the upcoming O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals in Joliet. Jimmy Underdaul and I have worked out a deal, that he will help me with my bike if I do go. My dad already told me that he is too busy with work to go racing right now. I feel bad that Jimmy isn’t out racing right now, but I feel fortunate that I have had the opportunity to work with him and his dad. Hopefully this turns into something good because I think we have a lot of potential as teammates.
I also have to give a very special Happy Birthday to one of my best friends in the world, Arielle. It's always a tough part of racing traveling and missing out on special occasions, but I am fortunate to have amazing friends who understand. Arielle is one of those amazing friends, so Happy 21st Birthday Ari!
I was really honored when I was recently asked to share some advice with some Jr. Dragster racers. Honestly it still comes as a bit of a shock when people ask for my advice or my help. I know I have come a long way in my career, but I still feel like I am in a dream. It’s so surreal to me that we are currently competing with the best of the best racers in the country. I really had to take a step back and think about what to tell these young racers. There is so much advice I want to give, it was hard to narrow it down. I think my biggest advice to all racers though, young or old is that nothing is impossible.
Growing up I was really fortunate with the parents and role models I had. There was never a limit put on my imagination or my dreams. I was just taught that if you want something in life, you have to work for it. So often in my career I came across a different attitude. As a young girl on a motorcycle, many people wanted to tell me how impossible my dreams were. I never understood it, and it really frustrated me. At times it honestly got me down and caused me to question myself, still to this day at times I struggle with the negative attitudes toward what we are doing.
I learned through these experiences though, not to dwell on it. In many ways people who were negative towards my racing, really drove me. It drove me to want to show other people they could do it too. One thing I also saw through my career, is those people who had the negative attitudes were not the ones who were doing amazing things. It was the people who saw everything as possible and put no limits on themselves that were doing the amazing things. I decided from an early age that was the kind of person I wanted to be.
Today when young kids tell me their dreams, I never ever say anything to discourage them. I never tell them how hard it is going to be or that it’s not possible. I tell them that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. I think often times that is so easily forgotten. I know at times I am guilty of looking at something I see as challenging, and thinking maybe it can’t be done. I can honestly say though through my career when I looked at something challenging and had the attitude that maybe I couldn’t do it, I didn’t do it. One of my favorite sayings is "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right."
I really got thinking about this with an up and coming challenge I am going to face this weekend. I am going to go testing at Brainerd Int’l Raceway with Greg Underdahl. This is the first time in my career that I am going on a trip to race without taking somebody I am used to racing with. It may not seem like a big deal, but to me it is a step out of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited for this opportunity, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a little intimidating. Greg and Jimmy Underdaul are very successful in Pro Stock Motorcycle racing. This is a personal challenge for me, and I can’t wait to take it on!
After about 3,000 miles of driving, I am sitting at my grandma’s house in Ekalaka, Mont. Just a little over a week ago, my dad and I made the decision to turn my new bike over to Greg Underdahl, which meant a long drive out to Gregs’s shop, Fast Lane Sports, in North Branch, Minn. My dad and I worked last Friday and Saturday to service the truck and trailer, and get the bike all loaded up. I set out Sunday morning for the 2,000 mile trek to Minnesota. Luckily a good friend of mine, Karen Wagner, decided to make the trip with me. I picked her up from the airport in Sacramento on Sunday morning, and away we went.
It always cracks me up to see the looks we get from passing traffic. I guess most people find it surprising to see two women behind the wheel of the truck and trailer. I absolutely love doing the driving for racing. I would way rather be the one to drive the rig, than to have to fly into the races. It always gives me a sense of comfort when I am the one in charge of making sure my bike arrives safely because let’s be honest, that bike is my life.
When we arrived at the Underdahl’s shop we got the grand tour. Greg and his family have a beautiful home complete with ducks, chickens, pheasants, dogs, kittens, and horses. It is always so cool to see people’s lives away from the race track. Even though we didn’t get to stay long I really enjoyed our visit with Greg and his family. They are all really nice people.
It was a little bit of a sad feeling when it came time to leave my bike with Greg in Minnesota. I am really excited about it, though. Greg is a very smart person, and knows a lot about Pro Stock Motorcycles. I am ecstatic that he is going to help get my new bike straightened out, and help us get pointed in the right direction. I feel very fortunate with all the people I have got to work with in Pro Stock Motorcycle. I had actually rode one of Greg’s bikes before in Indy, and I really enjoyed my time working with him and Gary Stoffer.
I am currently working so hard to find the money to run a couple more races back east. I really would like to find the money to go to Chicago and Norwalk. My dad always tells me if it is to be, it is up to me. If there is anything I have realized about racing it’s that it is anything but easy.
As always though, I am up for the challenge. So I hope very much that in my next blog I will be writing about my plans to attend Norwalk and Chicago. After a quick visit with my grandma here in Ekalaka, Karen and I will be headed back for California. The trip home should take less time since I left my trailer in Minnesota. Thanks for reading, take care everyone!