by Amy Holland

Jodie York - Roadracer

  "The very first bike I ever rode was a 1987 Suzuki GSXR 750. I had it out on the freeway and it was like Whoooosh!" She points to her arm like she's holding a hypodermic needle: "Speed injection! I gotta have more of this!"

  Practicing what she learned in riding courses, Jodie did a lot of street riding before trying her hand at racing. "When I rode on the street I'd practice smooth shifting, smooth braking, looking through the turns, smooth throttle. When I started going to the track I expanded on my basic skills by determining who was smooth and who was in control. If they rode my pace or a little faster I would chase them and eventually pass them. I won't bother to chase someone who's not smooth, who's unsafe. I just get around them as soon as possible."

  Jodie got started in racing in mid-'97 after watching World Superbike races at Laguna Seca for years. "I can do that. I know I can do that, and I want to do that." Her streetbike at the time was a '96 Yamaha YZF600, on which she had ridden over 20,000 miles. "It made perfect sense to me to convert the YZF to a racebike. I love this bike, and I know it very well. It's still pretty much stock-all we did was buy some used racing bodywork, put on a racing exhaust, and add a steering damper."

  York races with the Willow Springs Motorcycle Club in the 600 Superstock, 650 Superbike, 600 Mod Prod, and F2 classes. "I do better in longer races because I have more time to move up and pass. I just finished 5th in a 20-lap endurance race Saturday night. I was making passes throughout the race, and made my last pass on the very last lap. I was stoked about that."

  When asked if she would have finished better than 5th had she had more time, Jodie honestly replied, "My bike is a '96-to catch the bikes up front is pretty difficult because they have a lot more power and they're pretty good riders. "The top riders are out there with newer and better bikes than what I have right now. But I'm still learning. My goal is to get as much out of the YZF as I can. When I feel that I want to do more with this bike but it doesn't have any more to give, that's when I'll move on to another bike."

  Racing the YZF is the largest part of Jodie's racing career right now-she's also passengered on a sidecar, and raced in the Aprilia Cup race recently held at Laguna Seca as part of the World Superbike Race weekend. "Riding the Aprilia was a great experience, but so different than what I'm used to. The 250 Aprilia is light, narrow, and small feeling, and the brakes are radical! This was my first time racing a two-stroke. You have such a small powerband window on a two-stroke that if you're not right there you get dusted by the other riders."

  "I have to thank Matt Capri of South Bay Triumph for supplying the Aprilia that I raced, RPM Cycles of Ventura for sponsoring me, Pro Sports Marketing, and Fast Focus Photography. Special thanks to Lee Crawford at Race Tech for dialing in my suspension. I really enjoyed the Aprilia Cup race, and I'd love to do it again."

  As for sidecars, the first time Jodie passengered was a few months ago at Willow Springs-the same weekend she was racing her YZF. "I love motorcycles, and I'll ride anything I can. With sidecars you get so close to the track that it makes lean angles on my racebike seem like nothing! My lap times for the YZF came down after I rode passenger on a sidecar."

  "Sidecars aren't a regular thing, but I'll be doing it again. Right now, I'm focused on racing the YZF. Along with my training at the gym, this is what I do full-time. I have plans, goals, and hopefully a future in racing on a bigger level."

  Why aren't there any women racing on a bigger level such as American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) events? According to Jodie, gender doesn't really have anything to do with being a top-notch professional racer: "To be truly competitive at higher levels requires serious financial assistance. Then, are you able to put together a race program and make it work? These are the issues that face any racer trying to move onward and upward."

  She continued: "In general, there's not that many women racing, and I don't know why. Maybe they haven't tasted the thrill. Women have been passengers for so long, or maybe they don't think they have the ability to ride by themselves, let alone take it to another level. The bike doesn't know if you're a guy or a girl. It's just listening to the input that you are giving it and responding accordingly."

  Jodie does what she can to encourage young women to become interested in motorcycling in general. "We need to get the girls started at an early age just like the boys. Why is a little girl any more fragile than a little boy? When girls see me on my racebike I tell them they can do this if they want to. I tell them that every chance I get. If you want to ride or race, you can do it."

  "I choose not to live my life in fear-you're really not living if you live in fear. If you don't try, how will you ever know? So I'm trying." Remember the story about the tortoise and the hare? "I've got an awful lot to learn, but that's life. I believe in myself and I know when I put my mind to something I will do well at it, and I will excel. I may go slower than another, but I will get there. I'm like the tortoise-I'll be there at the end. You might be faster than me now, so enjoy your moment."

  "I'm going to go as far and as high as I can-I put no limits on myself. Putting our minds to whatever we are trying to accomplish and giving it our all determines how far we go in life. Just ask my friend Stuart Goddard who is one fast racer-and also happens to be paralyzed."