Featured Rider: Rachael Westfall
Location: Lake Forest, CA
Bike: 2008 Kawasaki ZX-10R
How did you get into riding?
I guess you could say I was born into it. My parents always had bikes. I started riding on the back with my Dad when I was four years old and my mom strapped me to him with a scarf. They taught me to ride a dirt bike when I was nine years old, but I didn’t like it right away, I’ll admit. I crashed and they sold the bike. But as soon as I was old enough to take the MSF course, I did. I struggled at first, but after the class, I was hooked.
What are your goals as far as riding goes?
I’ve done some novice racing and I loved it. I would like to road race again and go to every event in the series for an entire season. Even if I only do it once, I will have accomplished a dream. I’d also like to travel across the country to the women’s sport bike rally in North Carolina, as well as do a dual-sport tour in South America or a street tour in Italy. Then I’ll be complete.
What are you looking forward to this season?
Getting GirlClutch Racing off the ground and covering my bike in a GirlClutch wrap. That would make me so proud.
Which women (not necessarily riders) inspire you the most and why?
There are so many. I appreciate women riders who are successful, even after struggling when they first started. Meli Paris-Hayes wasn’t always fast and she worked her butt off to get where she is. I have so much respect for her because she never gave up. Jessica Maine set the stage for women in stunt riding, even after sustaining a broken back. And let’s not forget Debbie Evans, a former trials champion who did the stunts for Matrix Reloaded or Vicky Jackson Belle, former 125cc road racing champion who set a precedent for women in road racing.
Speeding when no one is looking, listening to my MP3′s while riding, Starbucks and cute boys with tattoos (well, maybe just one)…
Any hobbies/interests outside of riding?
I love archery and writing. I have two bows, a recurve and a compound. I wrote a novel and am currently re-writing it. I also like wrenching. I don’t get to work on bikes often, but when I do, it’s therapeutic.
Do you have any pre-track day/race day routines?
Nothing outside of loading the trailer and double checking to make sure I have everything I need like tools, warmers, extra tires, chain lube, bike, gear, etc. I did get to the track one time and realized I grabbed my ex’s dirt bike helmet instead of my helmet by mistake. The track org couldn’t find me a helmet and gloves small enough and they felt so bad, they gave me a free track day. So I guess being unprepared worked out that time, lol. Oh yeah, and I never drink alcohol, soda or tea on a track day weekend. I have a hard enough time staying hydrated as it is.
Any advice for women looking to start riding or going to track days?
I have two pieces of advice that in my opinion, determine how happy someone (not just women) will be when riding on the street or the track. The first and most important is to stay calm and breathe. Being relaxed will allow you to learn to handle the motorcycle quickly and it will also protect you during high-stress situations, not to mention crashing. I heard a racer say one time “think drunk driver” when tumbling after a get-off. It’s an ironic reference, but it’s true. The looser you are, the less damage you’ll do. Just imagine your upper body is a wet noodle. Fight the bike and it will fight you. My second piece of advice is to never give into peer pressure. Do what you feel comfortable doing and ride the motorcycle you feel most comfortable riding. Nobody else is going to operate that machine for you, so ride the bike that’s best for you. Had someone told me that early on, I would have stuck with something that hand handlebars instead of clip-on’s!