Ashley Fiolek: “Jessica [Patterson] is a champion because she works hard and never gives up, so I knew this year would be as tough as the other years. For me I think I just need to get back to having fun and riding the way I know how.”
WMX has evolved from the motocross throwback that it was several years ago to an exciting professional venue. The Saturday racing format and the involvement of some high-profile riders have helped shape the WMX into an active, viable action sport. Some say part of the catalyst of change was the Factory Honda rider Ashley Fiolek. Ashley created a buzz that the WMX desperately needed. Her personality and the many adversities that she has had to overcome drew fans and publicity to the sport in record numbers. We managed to catch up with the 2008 and 2009 champion to ask her a few questions.
MotoUSA: Ashley thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Lets talk first about the Texas race. Freestone is always a brutal track as the heat can take its toll on riders very quickly. Can you describe the Freestone race from your own perspective?
AF: Hot! We always know Freestone will be around 100 degrees and 100 percent humidity but this year seemed really warm, like you said it seemed to get to riders quickly this year. For me I guess I wasn’t expecting anything different from previous years, I just wanted to go out and get good starts and ride the best I could, but unlike previous years, this year the heat got the best of me.
MotoUSA: Thunder Valley in Colorado can also be a difficult track due to the elevation of the track. The air is a little thinner and the elevation can make it seem hotter than it really is. Did you do any special training for this race?
Ashley Fiolek: “I think we all need to do our part to make the sport of motocross grow, not just the WMX. I think one of the best ways to do that is to bring it to the attention of people that have never seen it or heard of it before.”
AF: Not really, I just tried to have more fun on the bike. I went back home to Florida so the weather there helped me. Colorado is always fun, I loved the track and like every race I went out there and gave it my all.
MotoUSA: What have you been doing during your down time?
AF: Not a lot of down time, but like I said I have been having more fun on the bike. Does that count? Other fun things… Really just riding with friends.
MotoUSA: Now that you’ve ended Patterson’s podium sweep at Red Bud, how will you continue to get back on the podium in first?
AF: Jessica is a champion because she works hard and never gives up, so I knew this year would be as tough as the other years. For me I think I just need to get back to having fun and riding the way I know how. Of course all I can do is prepare myself during the week and do the best I can on race day, if I do that and ride my race I will be happy.
MotoUSA: Tell us what it’s like riding for Factory Honda?
AF: It is a dream come true for me! There is so much to say about Honda and Red Bull. I have been with both of them for a long time and both sides put in everything that’s needed to win and have the best bikes on the track. It is one thing to be at the races knowing you have the best team behind you, the best bike, the best people; but this all starts long before the first round. Everybody works so hard to provide me with the very best. Above and beyond the equipment, Honda Red Bull from the very first day has made me feel like a member of the team – not a girl on the team, just a team member. To me that is incredible. I mean they didn’t have any experience before with a girl on their team but they act like I have been around for a long time, that is important to me and makes me feel comfortable.
MotoUSA: It’s been said that your presence in the WMX has helped draw more media attention to women’s motorsports. What do you feel needs to happen next to further promote women’s racing?
Ashey Fiolek: “My mom and dad always rode so I was on their bikes at two years old. When I was three they bought me my first bike. I actually didn’t really start riding it till I was around seven years old.”
AF: I think we all need to do our part to make the sport of motocross grow, not just the WMX. I think one of the best ways to do that is to bring it to the attention of people that have never seen it or heard of it before. So as a rider, even though we are all busy training, any time there is an opportunity to tell the world about motocross, you should take it.
MotoUSA: Do you feel there should be a Supercross class for women?
AF: For me I am not comfortable with Supercross so I would probably sit it out and focus on motocross. But that is just me… I think if the women that race want a women’s Supercross class they should go for it.
MotoUSA: I understand that you’ve been nominated for the Teen Choice Awards. Can you explain more about this and how people can vote?
AF: Yes, I was nominated for “Best Female Action Sports Athlete,” I am so excited! If you want to vote for me go to www.teenchoiceawards.com, you can vote once a day!!
MotoUSA: Can you talk a little about your new book?
AF: Sure I would love to! Well even though the cover has me on a motorcycle, the book is not just about racing, and it is not a rundown of my amateur and professional races but a story about me growing up and racing motorcycles. Situations my parents dealt with before learning I was
Ashley Fiolek: “I shift the bike through the vibration of the bike, that is how I learned and that still works the best for me.”
deaf, my childhood, learning to ride, racing, my friends, and my life away from motocross. It is really more about the challenges I have faced in my life, things I wanted to overcome, and things my family and friends helped me to change in my life on and off the motorcycle. So I think the book is inspiring for all ages and I hope more than just motorcycle people will read it.
MotoUSA: It might seem a little politically incorrect but when fans learn that you are deaf they always ask, “How does she know when to shift?” Can you explain how you determine when to shift the bike?
AF: I shift the bike through the vibration of the bike, that is how I learned and that still works the best for me. This year, the Honda CRF250R is fuel injected so it doesn’t vibrate, that is perfect for most riders but for me it makes things a little more difficult.
MotoUSA: Can you explain how you got your start racing motorcycles?
AF: My mom and dad always rode so I was on their bikes at two years old. When I was three they bought me my first bike. I actually didn’t really start riding it till I was around seven years old.
MotoUSA: Do you have any funny or quirky pre-race rituals or superstitions?
AF: A lot! Left knee brace always has to go on first and I always kiss my helmet before I put it on. I always like to wear gloves that don’t match too.
Ashley Fiolek: “My book is not just about racing, and it is not a rundown of my amateur and professional races but a story about me growing up and racing motorcycles.”
MotoUSA: That’s great! I’ll have to pay more attention, never noticed the gloves not matching. You’re an inspiration to millions of young women. Who inspires you and why?
AF: Marlee Matlin for what she has overcome and accomplished and James Stewart for his riding style and aggressiveness.
MotoUSA: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
AF: I would like to thank my mom, dad, and little brother Kicker. I’d also like to thank God, for blessing me with this amazing life; Honda, who I have been with for a long time, for always believing in me and are always the first to support me and women’s motocross; Red Bull for doing everything for me and helping me become a better motocross racer and athlete, and for creating a very cool website for me; Alpinestars, for believing in me and sharing my vision for me and women’s motocross, and of course for making me the sickest gear out there; Smith Optics (thanks Brady for always taking care of me); Able Planet, who believe “I am able”; Rockwell Timekeepers (thanks Rich for all your support); and Miki Keller and Stefy Bau for their past and continued efforts in women’s motocross.