Career Choice: Motorcycle Drag Racer
By Valerie Thompson
I was in my late 30s when I found my passion in the world of professional drag racing. I started racing on the street down Scottsdale Road, in Phoenix, with about 15 friends, and a friend of mine who was concerned about me said, “Valerie, you’re out of control! Take it to the racetrack.”
A few months later, I took my 2000 Fatboy to the racetrack and have not left since. I began by watching others, talking to many different racers, and seeking advice. But I knew I needed more. So I attended drag racing schools, and three years later, in 2008, I went on to become a Pro Stock Motorcycle Racer in the NHRA.
I have no college education background. Soon after high school I started working in the banking industry. Racing is not in my family history. I have four brothers and none were into motorcycles. (Two of them have since begun riding.) I started racing for fun in 2005 and 2006 is when I started having that competitive edge.
Beyond the Track
In addition to roaring down the quarter miles at over 190 miles per hour in 7 seconds, managing my race team, mentoring fans, and setting Land Speed Records, my other passion and focus is directed at making a difference in the lives of others by helping those in need. I have a special place in my heart for children. I spend time visiting the HopeKids in hospitals.
HopeKids provides ongoing events and activities and a powerful, unique support community for children with cancer and other life-threatening medical conditions. HopeKids surrounds the kids and their families with a message of hope, which can be an extremely powerful medicine. I love kids, making them smile and talk when they are shy, and I want to give back and have a positive influence in their lives.
One of my most inspiring moments is when a child meets me and later remembers who I am. I can see the sparkle in their eyes, the hope. Everything we do is about hope. It’s about surrounding these remarkable children with a message that hope is a powerful medicine and that we will come alongside them and walk through this together.
Here’s what it all comes down to: I don’t just race for recognition, I also race for HopeKids.
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