Being a role model isn’t easy, but star athletes are saddled with the responsibility. Some embrace it, while others don’t. Some set good examples, where others fail. Everything athletes do can affect the way a kid thinks and give them an example to emulate. That’s why it’s nice to have some good role models out there. Down in Freestone Texas at the second round of the Women’s Motocross championship we stumbled across one. Her name is Sara Price.
Born and raised in Southern California, Price is a teenage racing phenom who started winning races from the moment she swung a leg over a bike as kid. She has a strong family behind her that has been instrumental in her success as she climbed through the amateur ranks while a member of Team Green, winning titles, winning races and establishing herself as one of the elite women motocross riders in the United States.
Sara Price is 17-years old and she’s the 2009 Women’s MX Rookie of the Year, a Loretta Lynn’s Champion and now she's part of the Monster Energy Kawasaki MX Team.
"Some people may not know that just like Ryan Villopoto, James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael, Sara Price enjoyed four solid years as a top Kawasaki Team Green racer,” explains Kawasaki
Public Relations Manager, Jan Plessner. “As an amateur, she won over 15 national championships between 2005 and 2008. And with limited support last year during her first time out as a professional, Sara clinched the 2009 Rookie of the Year title. Before the opportunity presented itself to bring her in under the factory tent, we were already looking to do a variety of special media outreach programs. Her relationship and close proximity to our factory team and the Pro Circuit experts really gives her a step up on the competition.”
As the father of three girls who already have their favorite brands of motorcycle, are geared up from head-to-toe and love riding everything from ATVs to mini-bikes, it’s reassuring to have athletes like Price, and the rest of the WMX field, to refer to when I’m giving them pep talks and encouraging them to take chances now and then. When they see that a girl, just like them, who has passion for life that goes beyond the rough and tumble sport like MX, maybe they will find some inspiration in it. I hope and pray my girls will grow up to be strong, independent and successful women. They already love motorcycles so they should be tough. They already go to the races and seek out autographs, get riled-up over the Red Bull versus Monster and brand colors and they cheer for their favorite riders, not just mine, so they’re independent too. Now that Women’s MX is part of the National MX scene, it is really cool because the girls like to watch other girls who can ride at this level and in the end, it might just help light that competitive fire that fuels us to be a success. My oldest kid Aerial in particular, enjoys watching sports and has a growing fascination with racing and the thrill that comes from riding off-road. The sand dunes have been her playground and now she’s moving to the trails and if she decides she wants to give it a shot, she may even try the track. We got the chance to watch the second round of the AMA Motocross Championship at Freestone MX as guests of Kawasaki with the intention of having a teenage girl hang out with their latest factory racer. We were part of the Sara Price entourage for the weekend, toting cameras and following her around the Team Green pits as she signed autographs, did interviews, got physical therapy for her injuries, prepared for the race, practiced for the race and of course before and after the races. It was a unique behind the scenes look at life as a factory motocross racer and one my daughter wouldn’t soon forget.
Sara Price rails a turn at Lakewood Colorado aboard her Factory Monster Energy Kawasaki KX250F
on the way to finishing second in Moto 1, her best result of 2010.
Price spent time talking about her own riding experiences, what got her to this point and what it was like being a girl that’s better at riding dirtbikes than 99% of the boys out there. I could tell they were both into it by the laughter and the smiles coming out of their teenage mugs. I could see my daughter’s interest growing as the questions were more from her heart than her notebook. I could tell Price was into it because she was zoned in, she had the opportunity to reach out to someone who is the same place she was a few years ago.
We weren’t the only ones pelting her with questions either. From the Kawasaki media crew and on to the other journalists covering the races, Price gave them her undivided attention. She was clearly in her element and I never heard the kid complain once. She answers interview questions as ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ because its been her and her family working as a team throughout her entire career that brought her to this point. She obviously hasn’t forgotten that and it was interesting to see her struggle to refer to her effort as an individual. At the end of every interview or the start of every photo op she would unleash that big smile every chance she got. If it helps put things in perspective, check out what my daughter had to say about her.
“Just a few weeks ago I got offered the opportunity to fly down to Texas to meet up with Kawasaki's first pro girl dirt bike rider Sara Price,” explains the oldest Hutchison kid. “Sara is an awesome girl and a great role model to us younger riders. By hanging with her for a while I learned that she is a great rider and deep down she is a country girl at heart. Before Kawi picked Sara up out of all the young girl riders out there, Sara's mom and dad were driving her back and forth from race to race. Her father was her mechanic and manager while her mom got to feed the young star keep her in shape and make sure everything was ready for her to compete.
Aerial in action at Round 2 of the AMA Motocross championship in Freestone, Texas. Sara Price prepares for practice in the back ground.
“Sara is a really cool laid back girl. She let my dad and I (people she had never meet before) come in and invade her toy hauler as she got treated for her messed up shoulder, relaxed after practices, got interviewed, took naps, and talked about random things like how much she likes the cookies at the races. You know I have to be completely honest here the cookies and milk in the Kawi rig were absolutely delicious! But back to Sara: She is in love with her fans and thinks that her support has taken her a real long way.”
People may not realize that fan support can be a motivation when a rider is struggling, recovering from injuries or if they’re weary from travelling the racing circuit. That’s something the amateur and pro motocross racers have in common. This isn’t an easy gig, it takes dedication and it doesn’t hurt to hear people cheering for you, signing autographs or reading e-mail from the people who are pulling for you from the bleachers. It doesn’t hurt to have a goal and stick to it either. For Price and Kawasaki, the ultimate goal is a Women’s MX championship. But there’s more to it than that for both parties. For Kawasaki, there is a love for the sport and an ongoing participation in the advancement of women and youth in the motorcycle industry.
“Sara is fast and she is determined,” explains Plessner. “She will not stop until she has a pro championship under her belt. As a PR manager, you couldn't ask for a better role model for youth and female riders. She's very mature for seventeen, extremely well-spoken and great with her fans. We believe in Sara and look forward to her continued success within the WMX series. The women's motorcycle market is largely untapped. We hope the exposure and excitement we can create with Sara will encourage others to reach for their dreams, just like Sara is."
We need more positive influences for our daughters. The more exposure for WMX and its stars, the better its is for the kids watching the races, in my opinion, including my own.
“It is really good for young girls to see that once you have a dream you should go ahead and just keep
Price and a half-pint fan discuss how just a little Monster Energy drink in her tippie cup would go a long way toward driving her dad crazy!
chasing it, because soon you will be living it,” says the wisest kid in the Hutchison tribe. “Normally when most people picture a pro dirt bike race the don't see girls out there riding just the top guys, but you know what? Us girls can really get into riding. For many years it’s just been guys out there riding but no this year its turning around these girls can really kick butt at this sport.
“Sara did give me a lot of advice about riding too. She told me that once you truly fall in love with riding just never give up and just keep on going and don't let anyone stop you. Before, when I went to dirt bike races I never really thought I wanted be like the guys out there but now that I see all these amazing girls out there I have people I can relate to and look up to at the same time.”
As fun and approachable as Ms. Price seem to be, she’s also a competitor. She trains hard, rides hard and works through pain. She’s enjoyed success on the track and she clearly wants more. Her 2010 season hasn’t exactly gone as planned after she was injured in the opening race at Hangtown, but she’s fighting back, and the results are getting better. After a pair of fifth place finishes in the sweltering Texas heat she finished third overall with a (2-6) result at Lakewood Colorado the following round.
Sara Price gets her moment on the mic....
"I wasn’t going to back down in that race," said Price of her effort at Lakewood MX. "I have been working really hard to try and recover. I want to show people that I deserve to be on the podium. The second moto was going good, but I just barely managed to tip over and that cost me a few spots. With the way everything fell, I ended up getting third overall. It was an awesome feeling to finish with solid results.”
There are five more rounds of the MotoUSA.com Women’s MX championship still to come so there are ten opportunities for Price to finish on the podium and maybe win some races. Without a doubt she’s looking for more but in the end you have to take it when you can and the kid is driven, she knows what she wants and right now she is in the perfect position to get it.
“I believe growing up I was always kind of the aggressor,” explained Price in a ‘09 interview with her gear sponsor Thor. “I’ve always been the one to throw an attitude and I’ve always acted full of energy. I want to do my best and be the best no matter what. And coming from riding a horse competitively, I guess its kind of the same technique and I kind of brought that right over to motocross. My mindset stayed the same and ended up carrying over a little bit better than I thought.”
At Kawasaki, racing is more than just a way to promote their machines. There’s something about Sara Price that make Kawasaki believe in her. She’s got good values, has a good personality, she hauls butt and so far seems to be a really good fit for their racing program. In our recent interview with our on-scene WMX correspondent Farrah Bauer, Sara had this to say about taking her place in the Monster Kawasaki tent.
Sara Price and her family make their way back to the motorhome after she claimed her first podium of the 2010 season at Lakewood.
“I grew up going through the ranks of the amateur side of Kawasaki Team Green. It’s been a great honor to be making history as the first woman racer under Factory Kawasaki and also to share the tent with a very accomplished racer like Chad Reed. The team is awesome and they are like a second family to me. I feel so welcome with all the support they give; it’s a great feeling to have a loyal relationship, not only myself to Kawasaki but Kawasaki to me throughout my career. “
While life has been good so far there’s still more to come from this country girl turned pro-motocross rider. Her taste of music may be in question but there’s no denying that she’s got the speed, attitude and the class to be a champion. Plus, she’s already a role model.