The Racing Capital
of the World
September 20, 2011 | By Shelina Moreda
Note: AMA SuperSport motorcycle racer Shelina Moreda made history during the 2011 Red Bull Indianapolis GP as the first woman to race a motorcycle at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when she competed in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 races. She shares her impressions of the event in this diary. For more information on Moreda, visit www.shezracing.com.
So how was it?
Riding Indy has been such an amazing experience; I am having the time of my life! During my AMA race weekends, I have been umbrella girl for the XR1200 races and I have wanted to race one of the Harleys myself. They look like a ton of fun, and let's face it, it’s one more race I’d get to run in … and to me, the more I can race, the happier I am!
The HOG Racing, Harley Riders Group, Vance & Hines XR1200 is a handful of a bike. I had only a couple of hours of practice on it at the test at Indy the Friday before the races. I found out Thursday that they had a bike for me, flew out Thursday night, and rode as much as I could in the little time I had on Friday.
That test alone was quite the experience. I flew to Indianapolis wearing my race boots because it saved room in my carry-ons. I didn’t have any room to spare, as there was no time to check baggage or risk losing any of my riding gear. It started several interesting conversations!
I got to the track and met the team, sat on the bike, adjusted levers and went over the schedule. Brian J. Nelson was taking pictures of me and GoodSpark.com interviewed me for a video about the upcoming MotoGP weekend.
At some point during the test, I was informed that if I qualified I would actually be the first female to ever race Indy on a motorcycle in the 100 year history of the track … No pressure or anything!
When the test day was over, I had a photo shoot to get to at the start/finish line, in front of the Pagoda, and I’d get to kiss the bricks of the famed “Brickyard” for good luck. So much history here! Now all I need is some milk in Victory Lane! (As a dairy family, we are especially drawn to Indy for this reason!)
I had never flown in for just a day to ride at a test before. It felt pretty cool, though. I flew home at 4 a.m. Saturday morning to get back to work before the race weekend.
The next week was a rush of making arrangements to get my 600 (SuperSport bike) to New Jersey, as plans have drastically changed to include Indy, packing things up, as well as doing some interviews on the phone for ESPN Radio.
With bikes loaded in my trailer and everything set up for my mechanic, T.J. Kehoe, to drive across country to pick me up and continue to New Jersey, I headed back for the big Red Bull Indianapolis GP race weekend!
Friday practice came, and I had a whole new setup for my suspension. With no time on the bike, we knew this would have to be adjusted as we went through the weekend.
My first time out on the bike for the day, I was having a lot of trouble through Turns 1 and 4, both fast left-handers. The bike was moving around as a bicycle with speed wobbles would, but I had to drop time, so I kept on it. And drop time I did!
We came to figure out that I needed much lighter springs since I’m a lot smaller than your average rider. We got that sorted before qualifying, and from my personal best of 2:12s at the test, I improved to a 2:08 by the end of a shortened qualifying session.
Considering my first few laps around Indy were up around 2:40, I was very proud of my progress to see 2:08s even if that did mean I was at the back of the grid. Being the newest XR rider there, I was pumped that I picked it up quick enough to make the show!
My schedule became booked with interviews, and I was surprised to hear that several people had seen me on TV from the live interview I did on Friday morning on "Indy Style" or read articles about me already. People were starting to refer to me as “the girl that’s making history.”
My parents flew out to share the weekend with me and they were getting bombarded with questions, too. It was fun talking to everyone; we all thought it was pretty neat.
Saturday arrived with a short, 15-minute warm-up and then race! I was ready. I’d never even done a practice start on the bike, so the guys explained the differences to me and wished me luck! I got one practice start before going out for my warm-up lap.
On the starting grid and ready to roll. Red light went off, and the race is on! I powered ahead of at least one row of riders on the outside, looking to the inside of Turn 1 and coming in hot. I had to jam on the brakes to avoid running into the riders in front of me, figuring out in a hurry that the brakes actually help settle the front end of the bike in that corner. That was a welcome surprise!
Just getting into Turn 2, and one bike down! Two, three, four bikes down!
“Don’t look at the crashing riders,” I had to remind myself, doing everything I could to maneuver to avoid what became a four- or five-bike pile-up in Turn 2. I got through the mess and powered on.
I was ahead of the group of guys I’d been behind all weekend, and I was actually pulling away from them.
I was dealing with some issues, though. I’d broken my helmet somewhere along the way, and my visor was not secured. It was everything I could do to keep it on and keep going. It definitely cost me some time, but all in all, the race was a great one. I dropped another second off my times and saw 2:07s!
I even got to dice it up a bit with my good friend Pete Demas, who helped me out when I first started racing! I ended up 20th after starting 29th. My first race on the Harley! And history was made: The first female to race Indy on a motorcycle!
I owe a huge thank you to Arai, my new helmet company, for stepping up after my incident Saturday and saving me with a cool new helmet with red, white and blue stars on it! All American!
Sunday was another adventure. With no warm-up session, the crew and I had