LOUDON, N.H. – Professional surfer Bethany Hamilton said “Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of; the heck with sugar and spice.” That statement is showcased every month by the women who race in the Loudon Road Race Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Round five of the 2019 LRRS season hit the 1.6-mile road course this past weekend, and nearly half of the 26 total races throughout the weekend featured at least one female on the starting grid.
Novice rider Erika Tomlinson is a clinical psychologist who is finishing up a post-doctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at Harvard. She started racing motorcycles this year, but began riding in her thirties when she was in graduate school.
“I actually think of it as therapy,” said California native and current Warwick, R.I. resident Tomlinson. “It’s a lot more than the adrenaline. It’s definitely an escape. I feel like I’m really not awesome at it, but I don’t care, because just having the ability to do it is freeing, it increases my self-confidence and it makes me feel happy to be alive and grateful for the moments.”
While some riders discover their passion for motorcycle racing later in life, a lot of riders start out very young, often fueled by a parent who races. This is the case for 13-year-old Rindge, N.H. native and amateur rider Brianna McHugh, whose dad sparked her interest when most kids are focused on potty training.
“When I was three years old, I was on a four-wheeler,” said McHugh, who claimed a top five finish in Sunday’s Combined 300 Superbike, finishing first for the amateurs in the race. “I ended up going too fast on it and it was too big for me, so my dad threw me on a motorcycle. When I turned four, he got me a PW-50, took me over to a local flat track race and it all started there.”
Sunderland, Mass. native and amateur rider Kerry Smith may also be new to LRRS with this weekend marking only her second round competing in the series, but she is no stranger to motorcycle racing or NHMS. Smith has been racing for 13 years on a vintage motorcycle, and she has been coming to the speedway since 1981 when it was Bryar Motorsports Park with her dad, who raced motorcycles up until 2005. She spoke about how it can be difficult for a woman to break in to a male-dominated sport, but her experience has been positive.
“You’re always going to come across some men that are not ok with it,” said Smith. “When I started vintage racing, they gave me more space than they needed to on the track, but I think with 13 years of racing experience, I proved myself pretty quickly.”
Smith also reflected on the deeper meaning of being one of the few females in the sport.
“Being a female in this industry and in this sport is fun,” said Smith, who took second in Sunday’s Lightweight Supersport after two third place finishes. “I’ve had women come up to me and talk about how I’m a role model. It’s about encouraging and empowering women to be able to do this or ride in general and not have it be so male-dominated. I’m proud to be a female racer. I’m also proud to be a motorcycle racer. You have to have a balance of both.”
Round six of the Loudon Road Race Series returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway September 14-15.
Check out the full results from all races: https://trackintel.com/ti/lrrs/ajax2014/results/index.html
Stay up-to-date with the Loudon Road Race Series:
- Facebook: https://www.Facebook.com/LRRSNHMS/
- Website: https://www.NHMS.com/Local/Loudon-Road-Race-Series/
For ticket information for all events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, including the September 20-21, 2019 Full Throttle Fall Weekend, the June 13-21, 2020 Motorcycle Week at NHMS and the July 17-19, 2020 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 race weekend, visit the speedway website at NHMS.com or call Fan Relations at (603) 783-4931.