NHRA - National Hot Rod Association


Confidence is key for Angelle Sampey as she pursues a fourth championship

More than a quarter-century after her debut, three-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Angelle Sampey still has something to prove.
13 May 2022
Kelly Wade
Amgelle Sampey

At this season's rendition of the Virginia NHRA Nationals, Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Angelle Sampey will have an unusual opportunity for redemption aboard her Mission Foods Vance & Hines Suzuki. After proving she had the fastest bike on the property with a low qualifier award and top speed of the event two weeks ago in Charlotte, three-time world champion Sampey knows that she's set up for success.

"It meant a lot to me, personally," said Sampey, of claiming the 54th No. 1 of her career. "I definitely needed the confidence boost. I've been doing this for 25 years, and I'm still learning how to ride the bike. It takes a lot of work, and it's not something you can ever take lightly. When we can perform the way we did and get No. 1, it makes all the hard work and effort worthwhile.

"This wasn't just for me; it meant a lot for the team. They work so hard every day, and Andrew [Hines] sacrificed his ride on the motorcycle to be my full-time crew chief. This was a way of saying 'thank you' to him. He gives me a motorcycle capable of qualifying No. 1, winning the race, and setting the world record – but I have to drive it. I want to perform that well more often, but you have to be as close to perfect as possible, and that's not easy."

In 1998, Sampey was just two years into a career in Pro Stock Motorcycle that would come to span much of her life. That year, she truly began to show her abilities as a rider and a threat to the class. With three victories in eight final rounds over the course of the 14-race season, Sampey finished No. 2 in the nation to champion Matt Hines – Andrew's older brother.

The elder Hines and Sampey came up against one another seven times in the trophy round that year, including the final at Virginia Motorsports Park. There, Sampey fouled by .020-second to inadvertently send Hines ahead to an automatic victory.

To date, Virginia Motorsports Park is one of just three racetracks on the current tour where Sampey has not seen the inside of the winner's circle. She's also targeting Texas Motorplex near Dallas and Norwalk's Summit Motorsports Park for first wins.

"I would love to win every single racetrack," said Sampey. "I remember that whole situation with me and Matt Hines in Virginia, and it would be nice to go back and beat him – but I think it would be a cool twist to the story if I could win it with Matt's brother as my crew chief. Our whole story is pretty unique, being that we were such fierce rivals, and now I have Andrew 100% behind me as the crew chief and coach. It would be like getting rid of that little demon of losing to Matt at one of the only tracks I've never won."

Sampey's 45 national event wins at 16 different racetracks make her the third-most winning rider in the category. Crew chief Hines leads with 56 and teammate Krawiec has 49. The multitude of victories earned by Sampey have not come easy, and the losses came with excruciating frustration. In the earlier portion of her career, Sampey was known as passionate, persistent, and outwardly emotional.

After taking six years away from racing to devote time to her growing family, Sampey returned in 2014 with just as much passion and persistence, but also with a slight adjustment of temperament.

"I'm racing for a whole different reason now," she said. "When I first started, it was all about me and my team. But now I have different motivators; my two daughters are watching me. Although I'm very hard on myself and take it very hard if I don't win, ultimately, I'm OK. When I first started racing, I couldn't breathe if I wasn't winning. I still want to win really bad, but when I'm on the motorcycle on the starting line, I'm very calm now. I'm not anxious."

Regardless of how this weekend at Virginia Motorsports Park plays out, Sampey intends to maintain a one-race-at-a-time approach, though she states adamantly that she's here for a championship.

"My biggest challenge is believing in myself, because I know without a doubt that I have the best team, the best motorcycle, and the best sponsors," she said. "This is going to be the toughest year in the history of Pro Stock Motorcycle, but I have everything I need, and as long as I can stay out of my own head and believe in myself, there's no reason I can't win."