Jody Perewitz etched her name into the land speed record books when she became the first woman to break the 200-mph barrier on an American V-Twin. We talked to Jody about the experience recently during Laconia Motorcycle Week.
right. Even though she had never ridden on the fabled Bonneville Salt Flats before, Jody fearlessly rode herself into the record books last September at the 2011 BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials, rocketing over the Salt at 203.111 mph as she became the first woman to go over 200 mph on an American V-Twin. We caught up with Jody during Laconia Motorcycle Week 2012 at the Naswa Resort where she graciously answered a handful of quick questions for us.
Motorcycle USA: What was it like growing up a Perewitz?
Jody Perewitz: Obviously, motorcycles is what my whole life revolved around, it’s what it’s been revolved around. When I was younger, we didn’t go on family vacations, we went on family vacations that were motorcycle oriented. I’ve been to Daytona for my whole life. Either my grandparents or somebody would come to watch my brother and sister and I while my dad went out and conducted business. And that’s what we did. Everything revolved around motorcycles. My dad, he had a shop at our house so my mom had a regular, normal job and so he took care of us during the day and worked throughout the night and whatnot. He’s worked hard for the last 40 years to get where he is and he’s stressed that upon all of us, my brother, my sister and I. You gotta work hard because nothing comes easy but if you want it bad enough, you’ll get it.
Motorcycle USA: When did you start riding motorcycles?
Jody P: I was honestly too young to even remember. I know that I crashed my bike when I was in kindergarten, a little Honda 50, a little mini-bike. My helmet had dug into my forehead and it made a cut and my kindergarten teacher was like “Where did you get that?” and she lectured my dad that I was too young to be riding motorcycles and he of course “Yeah, Yeahed” her. And here I am today racing motorcycles.
Motorcycle USA: What were your expectations heading to the Salt last year?
Jody P: Our expectations were to set a record, a land speed record at Bonneville, and to go 200. My intentions were, I really wanted to get into the 200 mile-an-hour club. Honestly, I became reluctant to even tell anybody that because they didn’t have to say that I wasn’t going to do it but just by their expressions I could tell they were looking at me like “Sure, it’s OK. Maybe next year. Maybe in a couple of years.” So after we did it, I can’t tell you how many people were like “I
DJ Terry Moran and Jody Perewitz helped keep the party going on a sunny day at the Naswa Resort during Laconia Motorcycle Week 2012.
never thought you’d do it, I never thought you’d do it.” We accomplished everything that we intended.
This is new to us. My dad doesn’t build bikes to race. He builds bikes to look nice and to ride, but at the speed limit, so this was a bike that was totally about function, and being strong, being aerodynamic and going fast. It wasn’t about being pretty.
Motorcycle USA: Describe your record-breaking run. What was going through your head, what emotions were you feeling?
Jody P: We had a couple of really good runs before that and I knew the bike was real strong and it still had a lot more to go. So we got to the starting line and I knew what I needed to do and just let her rip, gave it everything I could. A couple of runs previous to that I broke my tach, and I don’t have a speedo or anything so I only have that tach. So I had broken it and I didn’t have a tach to tell me how fast I was going because I could pretty much guess how fast I was going depending on the rpm. I was in fifth gear, it’s only a five-speed, and my shift light came on and I knew when my shift light comes on I’m going over 190 (mph). So I was like, giving it more and more, so I knew I did really good.
But the actual ride back to the pits, because you don’t know until you get back to the pits how fast you went, felt so long. It’s actually five miles to get back and if you broke a record you have to go right into impound, you can’t stop in your pits. So what we were doing, if I broke a record, someone would stand outside our pits and give a thumbs up, which meant keep going, go right to impound. So as I was getting close, I saw a whole bunch of people, and I’m like “Oh my God, what did I do, what did I do?” And they had made a big sign that said 203, there had to be 30 people standing outside cheering and jumping up and down. So that was kind of tough, riding from the pits to impound because I was so excited.
Motorcycle USA: So what’s next for Jody Perewitz, another attempt at the record?
Jody P: Yep. We will go racing in July in Maine to a big land speed race up there and my goal is to get into the 200-mph club up there. We’ll be running the same bike except this is on pavement. It’s an old runway, an Air Force base. It’s a
Jody Perewitz grew up around motorcycles and is one of the rising stars in the industry after setting a land speed record and breaking the 200-mph barrier on her first trip out on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
shorter distance, the whole track itself is only a mile and three-quarters. You have a mile to get up to speed and then they clock you only once then you have three-quarters of a mile to slow down. We’ll go up there and race and then we’ll go back to Bonneville in August and that’s where my goal is to get into the 200-mile-an-hour club, so to make two passes at 200-miles-per-hour.
Though we told her we only had five questions, Jody was cool enough to indulge us with a bonus question: What are you riding these days?
Jody P: I have a couple of bikes. I have a ’63 Panhead that’s all original. It’s a cool bike. It’s kick only and gets a totally different crowd than anything else. I have a little rigid custom that we built at the shop and I have a Road Glide. I have a Road Glide we’re actually redoing, putting a 26 on it, air ride. So I’m excited, especially being here (at the Laconia Rally), there’s so many baggers up here. I can’t wait to get mine done. I feel bad because I’m going to have to get rid of my other bikes because I won’t ever ride them (laughs).