I have so much to say, but first of all I want to thank everyone who sent me messages asking me to update my blog. It means a lot to me that so many people enjoy reading it. This has been a wonderful year for me, both in my racing career and in my personal life. This year with the help of some very amazing people, everything finally clicked on our team.
Looking back, the start of the 2012 season was a rough one for us. I crashed my bike during testing in Valdosta, Ga. That accident not only destroyed the bike that my dad and I had poured our hearts into, but it also hurt my riding confidence. The rest of the year was spent starting over, not only with a totally different bike but also rebuilding my confidence.
In the middle of the 2012 season I remember sitting in Greg Underdahl’s rig on our way to test in Brainerd. Greg taught me two really important lessons that day, things that I think really helped lead to an amazing 2013 season. Greg said to me that being successful in racing takes every single piece of the bigger puzzle. A fast bike, a good crew chief, a talented rider don’t mean anything if you don’t have every piece of the puzzle. Greg also said to me that nobody can tell me when I will feel confident on my bike again and never to let anyone push me. He said when I was ready, I would know. It took the rest of 2012 season to rebuild my team and to regain my confidence, but I did it.
After my first pass this season in Gainesville, I knew that Greg had been right all along. Not only had all the work we put into race operation panned out, but my head and my heart were right at home on the bike again. Even though we didn’t qualify, we were less than a blink of an eye on the outside of the fastest field in Pro Stock Motorcycle history. Whatever had been holding me back in 2012 was no longer an issue.
The season only got better after Gainesville. We already had great team chemistry going with every piece of our racing operation. However, things were about to change a bit going into the Four-Wide in Charlotte. My dad could not attend the race, so he made a phone call to Gary Stoffer. It was pretty touching to me that Gary told my dad he had been waiting on that phone call. Now for anyone who has read my blog before, you know how much Karen Stoffer was my hero when I was growing up and still is to this day, so getting to work with the Stoffer family is a big deal to me.
When Gary showed up, he fit right into the puzzle and again the team chemistry felt great. I think we proved that when we not only qualified but won in the first round. I also have to add we not only won the first round but beat the other three bikes to the finish line with well over a bike length on all of them. I remember when Gary was pushing me back to the trailer, he told me I had to stop smiling or I would get bugs in my teeth. After the race in Charlotte, I knew Gary was a great fit for our team, and I think he felt the same.
As most of you know as well, my dad, Charlie, is my best buddy, o I was excited when he could return to racing with us in Denver and the rest of the season. Over my career in racing, I have never stopped learning and growing in my life. My dad said something to me one day that changed the way I viewed a lot of things in my life. We had a potential sponsor coming to a race, and I remember being so nervous. My dad pulled me aside and told me, "All you can do is be yourself and do the best job you can, and that’s all you can do." It’s funny because it seems like such a simple reminder, but it helped me calm every nerve I had not only in that situation but in many situations. Now, when I go to get on my bike, I feel no pressure. At the end of the day, if I can walk away from the racetrack and say I truly did the best job I could, then it was a great day. When I went to the race in Sonoma, I truly felt the best riding I ever have. I was calm, I was focused, and I knew all I can do is the best job I can. I think that attitude really showed when we went all the way to our first semifinal appearance, and then we did it again at the NHRA Finals in Pomona.
Going back to what Greg said, this season I found all the pieces to my puzzle. I had the most amazing team and chemistry between my crew that anyone could ask for. When I go to the starting line and I know my guys have done the best job they could to give me the best bike possible, it makes it easy to ride. More than anything, we had fun. The smiles, the team hugs, and the all-around attitude of the people around me made this one season I won’t ever forget.
There are so many people to thank for the 2013 season. First of all, the Stoffer and Underdahl families. Thank you guys for believing in me even when I was struggling. You helped give me the confidence and the tools to have a successful year.
Thanks to my family, especially my mom and dad. You guys told me I could do it from Day 1, and you have always stood behind me 110 percent. None of this would be possible without you guys.
Thank you to my boyfriend, Nick Bastiao, and his entire family for your support. You all are beyond amazing.
One of the biggest thank-yous I have to give is to all of our friends and fans. I have been overwhelmed by the support given to our team. Between the emails, calls, texts, and people who come see us at the trailer, all of you have given me even more desire to want to keep racing and keep following my dream.
Racing has been anything but easy. I have felt the biggest roller coaster of emotions over my career, but there is no place in the world I would rather be and no greater people I would rather be around. Thank you all for reading. Here’s to an even bigger and better 2014 season!