By: Jim Kimball
They say that good things happen to good people, and Ashley Fiolek is a perfect example. It all began years ago, when Ashley, who is deaf, began riding a 50cc minicycle at age 7.
With the help of her parents, she soon started winning AMA Amateur Motocross Championships and ultimately graduated to the top-level of female competition, racing in the Women’s Motocross Association in her first full season last summer. Fiolek excelled, winning the prestigious championship in her first year.
While ‘08 was stellar, ‘09 is starting off even better. Just prior to the second Anaheim round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, the Honda Red Bull Racing Factory Team announced that they had signed Fiolek, now 18, for the 2009 season.
Q: It must have been awesome to win the championship in your first attempt!
A: Yeah, for sure it was. You know, when the season started I knew I was ready, but I didn’t even think about actually winning the championship. I just wanted to be consistent. I knew it was going to be very difficult racing weekend after weekend, but after the first round, I knew I had the speed. Things kind of fell into place for me, and I ended up winning the championship. It definitely gave me a lot of confidence…
I think the biggest difference in the pros, or the biggest surprise to me, was their race pace and how fast they go throughout the entire race. The tracks get super rough, something a little different than what we see in a five-lap sprint in the amateurs. So I think it was the rough, rough tracks and stuff like that that were most different.
Q: You’re very friendly and well liked by everybody, including your competitors. Still, was it awkward to come in as the new girl, and so quickly start beating the established pros, like defending champ Jessica Patterson?
A: Well, JP’s definitely a great champion. She’s won a lot of races and a lot of championships because she knows how to win, and she trains very hard. I have a good relationship with all the girls, but when we’re on the track, we’re racing. When I raced in Europe, Livia Lancelot (the 2008 Women’s World Motocross Champ) and I even hit each other and went down, but it’s really just about racing on the track. When we’re off the track, I’m friends with everybody. The other girls and I have a good relationship, and that’s the way I think it should be…
The GPs were really nice to race, and competing in them helped me a lot, as far as being on all the different types of tracks. It’s an awesome experience to get me ready for here, and I’m going to go back over and do five rounds again this year.
Q: You have had some Honda support for a while, but how huge is it to now be a factory rider?
A: Yeah, I’ve been riding for Honda for a long time, since 2004, and we have had a great relationship. This was the next step. Of course, it’s hard to believe still. To be a part of Honda Red Bull Racing is simply a dream come true for me. I tell you, this motorcycle is awesome. Really, it’s unbelievable.
Q: Obviously, you want to defend your championship, but what else do you want to accomplish in 2009? Is there a chance we will see you line up for a men’s AMA Pro Motocross?
A: That’s always my dream and my goal: to one day be strong enough to race with the men.
I think I’m a couple years away, but I’m trying to get my speed up, and racing over in Europe also helps. Of course, in 2006 I qualified for Loretta Lynn’s with the boys and finished 11th. I wanted to show everybody that I had the speed then. It’s a good experience for me, and I think I’ll be ready in a couple years.
I just want to say to all the girls out there that whatever you dream, you can make happen. If you’re willing to work for it, you can do it.
I had a dream when I started on my first little 50 that I wanted to be the best in the world and ride for Factory Honda, and now here’s where I’m at. So it works!
Originally published in the April 2009 Honda Red Rider Magazine.