Making A Female Statement At MotoGp Indianapolis

Making A Female Statement At MotoGp Indianapolis - BLOG VICKI GRAY

If you know me, you’ll recall the excitement I shared last season with regard to the MotoGP venue Indy. At its second ever venue, I had achieved full media accreditation for this American hosted GP, August. On top of it, BMW Motorrad Canada gave me the new F800ST to ride to Indianapolis on. What a great ride. I went alone, and met up with friends (Frank pictured below, announcing live to NL in the broadcasting room Indy –) from The Netherlands  as well as those from the Dutch MotoGP 150cc racing team; who had flown over for the event. It was like a homecoming for me as unlike when I lived in Europe, there’s not a lot of MotoGp access in North America.

The ride took a full day, in the rain, including some wrong turns; from Toronto to Indy trackside. It was the same on the return ride, but happily no rain so the sightseeing was more enjoyable.

I had the best time hanging out with such knowledgable friends, especially Frank Weeink. He has all the scoop on what’s what in MotoGP. I was also along for the dinners with the Dutch 125cc race team – super fun, but of course I was totally envious as I was not racing.
There were so many others I knew who too had flown over from Europe for the venue.  My access, as it was when I lived in The Netherlands,  allowed me to be upfront with Rossi, Hayden, Mamola, Lorenzo and more as you might imagine. It was super being in the after race press room observing and hearing of the comments, first hand.

Making A Female Statement At MotoGp Indianapolis

Frank Weeink Announcing for RTL Nederland MotoGP Indy

Indy Newspaper Interview

After returning home I discovered the local columnist, Tim Rivers whom I had spoken to published a pretty good article in local Kokomotribune. Even though this happened last summer (I must find a way to get these things more promptly posted) I thought I’d share it in my blog. The article is no longer available online, but here’s what he wrote:

In its 61st season, MotoGP is growing Interest of women cyclists can’t be ignored the International spectacle of motorcycle racing attracts fans from many walks of life. The globetrotting league known as the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motorcyclisme) was founded in 1949. In 2008, MotoGP celebrated its 60th season. It is the oldest motorsports championship in the world. More than 2.4 million fans watched 18 MotoGP events in 14 countries in 2008. MotoGP earns its international status naturally by starting the season off in Qatar and then jetting to Spain, Portugal, China, France, Italy, back to Spain, England, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, the Czech Republic, back to Italy, back to the United States, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, and finishing up in Spain.

Photo by Vicki Gray - Rossi Heading out for Practise Session

Photo by Vicki Gray – Rossi Heading out for Practise Session

Even the 2008 Indianapolis MotoGP event, which was pounded with bad weather, was fairly successful. The 28-lap race was stopped at lap 20 amidst winds of up to 60 miles per hour and the pounding rain. The riders were disappointed that the race did not run its full course. One has to question their sanity, running at high speeds in those conditions. It certainly illustrates their commitment to the sport. Fans still showed up to eventually see Valentino Rossi of Italy win the 2008 Indianapolis GP at an average speed of 84.201 mph. By comparison, this year’s winner, Jorge Lorenzo of Spain, completed the race with an average speed of 192.75 miles per hour. Alex de Angelis of Italy became the first rider to break the 200 miles per hour barrier with a speed of 201.3 miles per hour. Each race was exciting but for different reasons. The 2008 race was a daring display of skill in the face of disaster brought on by the foul weather.

This year, with good weather, the race was more characteristic of a normal MotoGP event with higher speeds and fierce competition providing the excitement. Much like Formula One, fans are loyal and devoted to their rider or motorcycle manufacturer. Often wearing team colors or waving their favorite rider’s national flag, it takes little imagination to figure out their favorites. In a sport dominated by men, inevitably, the question arises as to how many women have graced the MotoGP circuit.

There have been only four women in the last 20 years to compete in FIM events and of those, only one (Gina Bovaird of the U.S.) has ever taken to the 500cc MotoGP class. According to Vicki Gray, Director of MOTORESS.com, more women are getting involved in motorcycling of all types. A quick visit to her website explains the mindset: “Our philosophy is inspired by free-spirited, positive thinking individuals who are optimistic, sympathetic, determined, open-minded, inspiring, non-conformist and fun. Simply said — Motoress is an attitude, a lifestyle, a woman, a ride.” Indeed, there is a growing number of women interested in motorcycling and they have a qualified voice in Motoress.com. Gray is quite the accomplished motorcyclist, having ridden her BMW to the race from Toronto. She’s also a motorcycle racer, instructor, coach, and columnist who has been riding since 1983.

According to Motoress.com, a recent press release from the American Motorcycle Industry Council with regard to their current Owner Survey and though not complete preliminary findings verify the increase of women riders. Through the first three-quarters of 2008 the survey was finding a 29 percent increase in the percentage of female owners, compared to 2003. That last survey found that 9.6 percent of owners were women.

Over the first nine months of 2008, the number had grown to 12.4 percent. This is likely the most substantial rider segment of growth in their findings which is logical if you compare the growth of women in other segments such as single home owners and business operators. One thing is for certain, whether it’s NASCAR, IRL, F1 or MotoGP, eventually a woman is going to appear on the scene and school all of the “good ol’ boys” at their own sport. I’m looking forward to this, it should be entertaining.


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