In her four years of professional racing, 21-year-old female Motocross star Ashley Fiolek has achieved many milestones. The racing sensation made headlines when she became the first female to be signed to the American Honda Racing factory team. She is a three-time AMA WMX Women’s Motocross Champion, plus a two-time X Games gold medalist. And what makes Fiolek’s rise to the top even more remarkable is that she has achieved all this despite being born deaf.
"If my story can inspire one person to follow their dreams and never give up, no matter what the boundaries are, then it’s all worth it. I wouldn’t want to change any part of my story," Fiolek said.
Joining American Honda Racing in 2009, Fiolek made headlines when she took home the Women’s Supercross gold medal at her X Games debut. Demonstrating it wasn’t beginner's luck, Fiolek backed up her stellar result the following year by taking the gold again in 2010.
"The X Games is an amazing event," said Fiolek. "Everything about the competition is exciting. It brings some of the top extreme sports athletes from across the globe to Los Angeles for a week of extreme competition. I’m really proud to be among the select few athletes to have won X Games gold. Training for the Women’s Supercross competition also gives me the chance to work one-on-one with Supercross legend Jeremy McGrath, which is really exciting. He’s taught me a lot about Supercross racing."
For 2012, Fiolek’s sights are firmly set on defending her WMX title after regaining the number one plate in 2011.
“My focus this year is to defend my WMX title. After a lot of hard work and preparation, I was able to win it back last year, and I am determined to keep it. I haven’t really changed things up too much compared to last year, but I have been working really hard with my trainer during the off-season. I do a lot of strength training and cardio, like rowing, cycling, the elliptical and CrossFit. I receive so much support from everyone involved at Team Honda Muscle Milk, and they do an awesome job preparing my race bike; it’s incredibly fast. There’s definitely no shortage of people on hand to help me at each race, and there is no better way for me to repay the team than to win another title.”
Fiolek’s success both on and off the track has generated a lot of media attention, and her dominance has single-handedly elevated the profile of women’s motocross racing. Fiolek was featured in the April 2012 issue of Vogue magazine. The four-page article gave an inside look at how Fiolek, has overcome her disability in a high-speed sport that puts a premium on the sense of hearing, and also offered insight into how it feels to be a female in a male-dominated sport. She also added book author to her list of career achievements with the release of her inspirational memoir, Kicking Up Dirt, in 2010—a story about determination, deafness and daring to dream.
Fiolek has also become a well-respected leader in the deaf community and gives back by hosting events at local deaf schools and community centers to show special needs children that dreams can come true no matter what the circumstances. Her story is so inspirational that American Honda featured her in a short film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. As a result of being a three-time women’s champ, Fiolek has developed a strong following of fans over the years and has become a role model to many young women.
“It is a huge honor to be in Vogue magazine,” said Fiolek. “To be in a magazine that is not related to the motocross industry is a great opportunity for me. I love being able to leave an impact on people, and if I can expose more women to motocross through the magazine then that is an accomplishment in itself. It was a great experience, and I hope to be involved in more things like this in the future.”
“My success has not come easy, and my family has made some big sacrifices in order for me to follow my dreams. We are one big team, so when I win, they win. However, everything we’ve accomplished together so far hasn’t been without its share of frustration. There have been some really tense moments and times when I wondered if it is all worth it. But it’s the instances where fans tell me that I’ve inspired them to follow their dreams or I’m standing on the podium holding up the number one plate that all the hard work becomes worth it,” said Fiolek.
Although Fiolek has achieved so much in her short professional career, she still has another goal in her sights: to be the first woman to qualify alongside the men in a 250-class Motocross race.
“I really want to qualify with the boys,” said Fiolek. “I’ve come close a few times now, but I’m determined to add first woman to qualify for the 250 Motocross class to my list of career accomplishments. That would be very cool.”
With the support of Team Honda Muscle Milk coupled with the level of talent and determination Fiolek has shown throughout her racing career, one thing is for sure—Fiolek will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2012 WMX competition.