Career Choice: Motorcycle Drag Racer
By Valerie Thompson
As part of an ongoing series where we profile nontraditional careers for women, SMW takes a look at how one woman entered the male-dominated field of motorcycle drag racing. Without a doubt, it’s a fascinating, exciting profession. But what gives motorcycle drag racer Valerie Thompson hope is perhaps even more inspiring.
Here, in her own words, is Valerie Thompson’s story.
I am a single-minded woman in a man’s world who straps on a helmet and leathers and hits the quarter-mile racetrack at over 190 miles per hour in 7 seconds.
When I started racing in 2006, I was not taken seriously. People thought I was a pretty girl just showing up to race. In my second year, heads started turning as I placed third in the nation out of 52 racers.
I was more than just a racer—I was a one-woman show. I drove my own truck and 20 ft. trailer across the country, loading and unloading my equipment at the racetrack (with some help from my crew with the heavy stuff). I also did my own marketing, which I had to learn. In 2005, I knew nothing about marketing. Today, I know a lot and I’m still learning. My business savvy and marketing ability continue to grow, and they are partly responsible for my success.
In less than three years, I earned my way into motorcycle drag racing’s most elite class. It is my work on and off the track, my determination, and the belief that I will never give up on my dream that drives me to the finish line.
Support from others has also helped get me to where I am. People who made a difference in my career were my first sponsors: Hacienda, Harley-Davidson, Monster Energy Drink, and GoDaddy.com.
How I Got on Track
I was a professional banker for 13 years, got laid off, and bought my first Harley-Davidson in 1999. My friends always said that when I was on my bike I had the pregnant glow. That statement has always been in the back of my mind, but little did I know then that riding motorcycles was my passion.
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