2023 Daytona Bike Week: Where the Women Are

Women racing, great rides, women’s motorcycle clubs, and so much more

By Tricia Szulewski, Editor

2023 Daytona Bike Week

28 years. That’s how long I’ve been a motorcyclist. And 24 of those years I’ve spent in the motorcycle media, yet, I have never attended Daytona Bike Week. Big rallies have never been a draw for me. The crowds, the drinking, the congestion, the scantily-clad women, the showboating—none of this represents what I love about motorcycling.

That said, when I updated our WomenRidersNow.com (WRN)’s events calendar with the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Biker Belles Daytona event, my interest was piqued. I decided it was finally time to experience Daytona Bike Week in 2023. So, with an itinerary to cover as many women-centric events for WRN I could find, I hit this year's rally.

The Races—and Women Racers

You can’t go to Daytona and miss out on all the epic racing action. Bike Week begins with motocross at the Daytona Speedway and Billy Lane’s Sons of Speed races at the New Smyrna Speedway. This year there were more women racing the 1920’s-era motorcycles than ever before—twice as many as last year’s race!

Sons of Speed women racers
The ladies of Sons of Speed (left to right): Brittney Olsen, Jody Perewitz, Thelma Tamalowitz, Jenny Bass, and Ashley Woodford. Not pictured, Shelly Rossmeyer.

Hanging out in the pits with all the racers and their crew, it’s easy to feel the unique bond the lovers of vintage race bikes share. They exchange laughs, cold drinks, and tools. And when someone loses an exhaust on a practice run, another person runs to a swap meet to see what they can find. Blown engine? No problem, “so-and-so has a bike we can take one from.” These are the kinds of things I heard about, deepening my curiosity and affection for the culture surrounding vintage motorcycles.

Shelly Rossmeyer Sons of Speed
Shelly Rossmeyer missed the group shot, but was a force on the track. She placed second in the 61 (cubic inch) class.
Just Ride 5 Jenny Bass
My girl Jenny Bass looking ready to race on her 46 ci Harley. She is sporting a base layer shirt from our friends, a woman-owned company called JustRide5.


Later in the week at the Daytona Speedway I was able to catch more racing action. MotoAmerica’s “Mission King of the Baggers” is just that—heavyweight Harleys and Indians duking it out on the racetrack. It’s fascinating (and a little scary) how fast these bikes can go. The baggers are lifted for more cornering clearance and modified with all the “go fast” parts you’d expect. Watching baggers fly past me on the straightaway at nearly 180 mph is invigorating!

Women like me are in awe of Patricia Fernandez, who has been racing an Indian Challenger in prior years. This year she is racing with her Saddlemen team on a souped-up Harley-Davidson.

Patricia Fernandez Harley-Davidson King of the Baggers
Patricia Fernandez placed 12th in the King of the Baggers race. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.
Patricia Fernandez hooligan race 2023 Daytona Pan America
Patricia also races this modified Pan America in the “Super Hooligan” series, where she came in 18th this year. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.
MotoAmerica Daytona 200 2023
The superbike race was extra exciting when a restart near the end of the race put racers in a unique position to duke it out with a “new” 10 lap race. Here is Josh Hayes (on the Yamaha) making an attempt at an inside pass on the last lap. Josh Herrin managed to maintain his lead and rode his Ducati Panigale V2 across the finish line to win the Daytona 200.

Women’s Motorcycle Club Events

Leather & Lace MC has an amazing clubhouse and grounds in nearby Edgewater. Each year they open it up to non-club members for several events during Bike Week. Their delicious pancake breakfast is followed by a bike blessing. Later in the week all are welcome to partake in a motorcycle rodeo. Where else can you go to watch the “shovel race?” No, not Harley-Davidson Shovelheads racing…I’m talking about bikers who rig a garden shovel to their bikes and pull a “friend” who rides the shovel. First one past the finish line wins!

Leather and Lace Rodeo 2023
Games of skill, determination, and risk provide spectators lots of laughs at the Leather & Lace Rodeo. I love this shot of these women who did well weaving between cones and picking up the long sticks that were stuck into each of them.
Leather and Lace Rodeo 2023
I don’t think any of my friends would be willing to be dragged on a shovel while I race to the finish line.

Stilettos on Steel Female Riders Group also hosts a meet and greet during Daytona Bike Week. I jumped in on their breakfast and ride around the Ormond Loop Scenic Loop. While Florida’s roads are pretty much flat and straight, this loop offers beautiful scenery for a cruise. You meander along the Halifax River, marshes, lush trees, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Stilettos on Steel Ormond Loop
Cruising along the creeks and marshes and catching glimpses of the wildlife along the Ormond Scenic Byway is the best way to start the day at Bike Week.
Ormond Loop
I loved riding under the canopy of lush foliage so much that I rode this loop several times throughout the week. Here, I am following my friend June while testing the new Harley-Davidson Road Glide 3.
Stilettos on Steel Florida
Thanks to the Stilettos on Steel for inviting me to join their fun reunion. There is a strong presence of Stilettos in Florida and Wisconsin, but some of these ladies live in other states, too.

Harley-Davidson Biker Belles—The Morning Ride

On Wednesday, Harley-Davidson teamed up with the Sturgis Buffalo Chip Biker Belles for The Morning Ride at Daytona Bike Week. The special ride is led by some of our industry’s most well-known women. Content creator Maggie Hicks and land speed record holder and Sturgis Museum Hall of Famer Laura Klock were the ride’s co-captains, with Harley-Davidson’s Karen Davidson next in line with about 50 riders following. The Daytona Beach area police escorted us for the 1.5-hour ride, which meant legally blowing through red lights and stop signs. Now that’s the way to ride!

Laura Klock, Karen Davidson, Tricia Szulewski, Athena Ransom, Brittney Olsen
Some of the ride's most notable figures: (Left to right) Laura Klock, Tricia Szulewski, Brittney Olsen, Karen Davidson, and Athena “Chickie” Ransom.
2023 Daytona Beach Bike Week Harley-Davidson Biker Belles
Thanks in large part to Toni Woodruff of the Sturgis Buffalo Chip, the Biker Belles have been meeting up for more than a decade, raising money for local charities. In 2022, the event came to Daytona for the first time but was a washout. This year the Belles had perfect weather!
Biker Belles Daytona
Biker Belles take over Daytona! There’s nothing like the feeling of riding in a large group of powerful women.
Renegade Babes
The ladies from Renegade Babes have a chat while we wait for the bridge to come down. Renegade sponsored the morning’s Ride-In Bike Show. The small woman-owned company makes trendy graphic apparel and accessories.
Gina Woods and Tricia Szulewski
I am riding Harley-Davidons's new Nightster Special for a future WRN review. In the background is Gina Woods from Open Road Radio.

Following the ride were raffle drawings, precision riding demonstrations, a ride-in bike show, and Maggie took a turn at showing us how to properly pick up a motorcycle.

Raffle winners Biker Belles Daytona 2023
This year’s raffle winners: Alexi Capsouras from Oxford, New Jersey (left), won a Harley-Davidson full face helmet; Bell from BellsRides.com won a Carhartt gear bag; and Sheila Fisk from Lakeland, Florida, (far right) won a cool Harley-Davidson bomber jacket. And yes, that is none other than Sturgis Hall of Famer, 97-year-young Gloria Struck in the middle of the group.
Gloria Struck and Tricia Szulewski
Earlier in the week, at the Flying Piston Custom Builder Benefit Breakfast, I had a chance to hang out with Gloria. She happily walked me through all the photos in her book, "Gloria, A Lifetime Motorcyclist" describing who was pictured. What a doll!
Renegade Babes Kate
Kate from Renegade Babes poses with me wearing one of her creations.
Follow the badgers
Angie Gartin from FollowTheBadgers.com poses with friends. Left to right: Michelle “Bells Rides,” Amanda “Mandy the Machine,” Raedene “Mama Rae,” and Angie “Momma Badger.”
Indian motorcycle ride-in bike show
The Biker Belles Ride-In Bike Show brought in more than just Harley-Davidsons. This was just one of a few Indian Motorcycles entered.

Main Street and More

I would be remiss if I didn’t check out the shenanigans on Main Street while attending Daytona Bike Week. I know many people are drawn to the live music, bars, shops, and downtown mayhem. Doing my journalistic duty, I checked it out a couple times and did enjoy the people-watching. Even just watching the variety of machines ride by is worth the $5 parking fee.

Daytona Beach Main Street
The scene on Main Street is just as vibrant during the day as it is at night.

WRN has always promoted Jasmine Cain in our “What to do in Daytona” articles, and checking out her show at the Boot Hill Saloon, I see why she is such a draw.

Boot Hill Saloon Jasmine Cain
Jasmine Cain and her band know how to rock the house. Even standing outside the Boot Hill Saloon, with the rumble of the constant stream of noisy bikes with booming sound systems, you can’t miss the sound of the band and how the crowd goes wild.
Main Street Daytona
My take on Main Street: Cool customs, wild paint jobs, colorful lighting, and crazy loud sound systems riding by on two and three wheels. It’s an attack on all the body’s senses.

Want to see more pictures from Daytona? Check out our posts from Bike Week on WRN’s Facebook page here.

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