Record Attendance at Femmoto

Largest ever all women's demo track day

By Diane Ortiz, Photos by George Tranos

More than 330 women riders gathered under the hot sun at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on October 7-8 for the 4th Annual Femmoto run by Bonnie Strawser and Monte Lutz of Sportbike Track Time. “Its a unique opportunity for women to demo motorcycles from many different manufacturers,” Monte said at the riders meeting on Saturday morning. “There is nothing like this for the guys#8230;” he added somewhat longingly.

Women listen at the riders meeting held before Femmoto where safety guidelines and other important track information is discussed. New pink Femmoto flags wave in the background.

But that was OK with June Spear, 39, who drove out from southern California with friends Jackie and Hanni for the two-day event. “Im here to find a new bike to ride!” she exclaimed. And thats one of the reasons Kawasaki, Buell, Ducati, MotoGuzzi, Aprilia and Kymco brought more than 50 of their latest models for the women to test ride in a safe, friendly and controlled environment of a race track.

June Spear (left) and her friend Jackie from San Diego stand in front of the Ducati booth prior to sign up on Sunday morning.

The riders were grouped into two skill levels, novice and intermediate, on the demo bikes of their choice for a minimum of five sessions per day. Kawasaki also brought motorcycles for the dirt bike school and Aprilia supported the supermoto demos and class run by Darrick Lucchesi of the West Coast Supermoto School.

The women riders on one of two courses. The demos from Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, and Kawasaki rode on the “A” course, while those for Buell, Ducati and Kymco rode on the “B” course. WRN writer Diane Ortiz is shown in the foreground in the yellow and black leathers riding a Kawasaki Ninja 250R.

“We have 18 track coaches this year and they are all women,” said Bonnie while helping serve lunch to the riders. “My greatest accomplishment this year is having an all-woman staff.” Only women were allowed to ride the course during the Femmoto event and some had “umbrella boys.” It was an interesting change of roles.

The women coaches wore pink vests so they could easily be seen out on the track. Here the riders stage prior to entering the track.

On Saturday night, Moto-Euro Magazine hosted a gala dinner at the Sahara resort with a fashion show presented by G by Hein Gericke. The show featured the latest designs in womens technical gear from Hein Gericke, Kawasaki, Ducati, Vanson Leathers, Triumph, Icon and Scorpion. Prizes included full outfits from Hein Gericke and Icon, a West Coast Supermoto class, Scorpion helmets and, the grand prize, a brand new TNG LS49 scooter.

Track coach Debra Kuick, in pink vest, leads a group of riders through Course B at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Kuick contributed to Racing Page.

Femmoto, now in its fifth year, continues to grow and attract women of different backgrounds and experience levels. Liz Haas, 56, of Lake Tahoe, was there to ride bikes shed like to own. “Ive been riding since 1966 and Ive wanted to ride the Ducati 999 and I have that opportunity at Femmoto,” Liz said. Others were there to share the camaraderie with other women. For some it was their first time attending having heard about it from others.

Liz Haas of Lake Tahoe, Calif. with one of the Buell Firebolts she tested on the track at Femmoto 2006.

“We want Femmoto to grow even bigger and better,” Bonnie said. “Were working on some great new things for next year. Bring a friend and join us!” The next Femmoto will be October 6th and 7th, 2007 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. All the proceeds from Femmoto go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. This year $10,725 was donated to the cause.

During their down time off the track, women could browse through some vendors like Hein Gericke showing off its G Line. Thats G representative Sarah Schilke in the pink vest whos also a rider coach.

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The riders meeting at Femmoto.

The fourth annual Femmoto event held in Las Vegas sold out with 150 women participating making the women-only track day its largest yet. Participating manufacturers and sponsors included Aprilia, Kawasaki, and Moto Guzzi, Buell, Kymco, Michelin and Red Bull.

record attendance femmoto 2005 bonnie strawser
Bonnie Strawser, founder of Femmoto, being interviewed for Speed Channel.

Event founder Bonnie Strawser of Sportbike Track Time attributes the growing interest in Femmoto to several factors. “Women are spreading the word, which in turn makes the manufacturers listen and want to attend, plus motorcycle magazines are running stories on Femmoto.”

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Women riders get the track all to themselves.

Part track day, part demo ride. Femmoto is a one-day event combining the organization of a track day utilizing elements of a demo ride. In another words, test ride a manufacturers demo bike around a track for a day. Sounds fun, huh? Theres one catch. No men allowed. The thinking is testosterone gets in the way of women enjoying a nice day on the track. “Femmoto is a chance for women to get together with other women with like-minded interests,” explained Strawser.

Four years ago, Strawser had the idea to hold a track day just for women. Since then, the event has grown to become a platform for female motorcycling related products. “Were here because well get some brand recognition out it,” said Rick Pawelka, Kymcos marketing manager. “There are a lot of people here with limited riding experience. It just seemed like a logical thing to be here.” Femmoto provided the perfect opportunity for Kymco to showcase its entry level Venox 250 cruiser plus two of its scooters. Any style of bike is welcome, even though the event is held on a racetrack.

Kawasaki hauled out a large fleet of motorcycles for the second year in a row including the ZX-6R, ZX-10R and Z750S. “We offer a variety of category leading and confidence inspiring machines, factors that play a critical role for female motorcycle buyers. What better way to reach out and acknowledge this market than to show up with our newest and best machines,” said Jan Plessner, Kawasakis public relations manager.

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Anna Pokorska of Chicago tested several models during the day.

This is the perfect opportunity to ride a few different bikes in a controlled environment,” said Anna Pokorska of Chicago. “I dont mind riding with men, but men can be silly. They like to show off. Women dont do that.”

Sidelining The Men

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Lee Kraus didnt mind switching roles for the day helping out girlfriend Jenna Hofer.

“It was nice to ride with a lot of girls,” said Jenna Hofer of San Diego, “although I got lapped twice by this girl named Quickie, but it was cool.” Hofer traveled to Vegas with her boyfriend, Lee Kraus, who acted as Hofers “umbrella boy” protecting her from the 95-degree Nevada heat. “Its nice to see a lot of women on the track,” observed Kraus. “Weve ridden track days together. So many guys crash or cut women off. I wish it were safer for Jenna. Theres definitely too much testosterone with men on the track.”

Kraus wasnt the only guy watching from the sidelines. About one-third of the women brought their other half assisting them with getting water, helping gear up in those bulky race leathers, even impromptu shoulder massaging.

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Shelly Brady with boyfriend Alex Beltran posing on the Aprilia model she purchased after test riding it at last years Femmoto.

“Most guys dont like to get passed by girls,” said Alex Beltran of San Diego, who accompanied his girlfriend, Shelly Brady. “Its nice to see women out here who wouldnt normally feel comfortable at a track day.”

The atmosphere at Femmoto makes it easy for a woman to test out a motorcycle on which she might otherwise not feel comfortable. Manufacturer reps were spotted helping gals get on and off of bikes that were too tall for them. In addition, the rider coaches hired by Sportbike Track Time were available to help those new to the track atmosphere.

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Sentiment of the day.

The $100 registration fee paid for the track day, dinner, and a Scooter raffle sponsored by Moto-Euro magazine. There was also a fashion show put on by Fairchild Sports exhibiting its new G-Line of womens motorcycle clothing.

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