I have so much to say, but first of all I want to thank everyone who sent me messages asking me to update my blog. It means a lot to me that so many people enjoy reading it. This has been a wonderful year for me, both in my racing career and in my personal life. This year with the help of some very amazing people, everything finally clicked on our team.
Looking back, the start of the 2012 season was a rough one for us. I crashed my bike during testing in Valdosta, Ga. That accident not only destroyed the bike that my dad and I had poured our hearts into, but it also hurt my riding confidence. The rest of the year was spent starting over, not only with a totally different bike but also rebuilding my confidence.
In the middle of the 2012 season I remember sitting in Greg Underdahl’s rig on our way to test in Brainerd. Greg taught me two really important lessons that day, things that I think really helped lead to an amazing 2013 season. Greg said to me that being successful in racing takes every single piece of the bigger puzzle. A fast bike, a good crew chief, a talented rider don’t mean anything if you don’t have every piece of the puzzle. Greg also said to me that nobody can tell me when I will feel confident on my bike again and never to let anyone push me. He said when I was ready, I would know. It took the rest of 2012 season to rebuild my team and to regain my confidence, but I did it.
After my first pass this season in Gainesville, I knew that Greg had been right all along. Not only had all the work we put into race operation panned out, but my head and my heart were right at home on the bike again. Even though we didn’t qualify, we were less than a blink of an eye on the outside of the fastest field in Pro Stock Motorcycle history. Whatever had been holding me back in 2012 was no longer an issue.
The season only got better after Gainesville. We already had great team chemistry going with every piece of our racing operation. However, things were about to change a bit going into the Four-Wide in Charlotte. My dad could not attend the race, so he made a phone call to Gary Stoffer. It was pretty touching to me that Gary told my dad he had been waiting on that phone call. Now for anyone who has read my blog before, you know how much Karen Stoffer was my hero when I was growing up and still is to this day, so getting to work with the Stoffer family is a big deal to me.
When Gary showed up, he fit right into the puzzle and again the team chemistry felt great. I think we proved that when we not only qualified but won in the first round. I also have to add we not only won the first round but beat the other three bikes to the finish line with well over a bike length on all of them. I remember when Gary was pushing me back to the trailer, he told me I had to stop smiling or I would get bugs in my teeth. After the race in Charlotte, I knew Gary was a great fit for our team, and I think he felt the same.
As most of you know as well, my dad, Charlie, is my best buddy, o I was excited when he could return to racing with us in Denver and the rest of the season. Over my career in racing, I have never stopped learning and growing in my life. My dad said something to me one day that changed the way I viewed a lot of things in my life. We had a potential sponsor coming to a race, and I remember being so nervous. My dad pulled me aside and told me, "All you can do is be yourself and do the best job you can, and that’s all you can do." It’s funny because it seems like such a simple reminder, but it helped me calm every nerve I had not only in that situation but in many situations. Now, when I go to get on my bike, I feel no pressure. At the end of the day, if I can walk away from the racetrack and say I truly did the best job I could, then it was a great day. When I went to the race in Sonoma, I truly felt the best riding I ever have. I was calm, I was focused, and I knew all I can do is the best job I can. I think that attitude really showed when we went all the way to our first semifinal appearance, and then we did it again at the NHRA Finals in Pomona.
Going back to what Greg said, this season I found all the pieces to my puzzle. I had the most amazing team and chemistry between my crew that anyone could ask for. When I go to the starting line and I know my guys have done the best job they could to give me the best bike possible, it makes it easy to ride. More than anything, we had fun. The smiles, the team hugs, and the all-around attitude of the people around me made this one season I won’t ever forget.
There are so many people to thank for the 2013 season. First of all, the Stoffer and Underdahl families. Thank you guys for believing in me even when I was struggling. You helped give me the confidence and the tools to have a successful year.
Thanks to my family, especially my mom and dad. You guys told me I could do it from Day 1, and you have always stood behind me 110 percent. None of this would be possible without you guys.
Thank you to my boyfriend, Nick Bastiao, and his entire family for your support. You all are beyond amazing.
One of the biggest thank-yous I have to give is to all of our friends and fans. I have been overwhelmed by the support given to our team. Between the emails, calls, texts, and people who come see us at the trailer, all of you have given me even more desire to want to keep racing and keep following my dream.
Racing has been anything but easy. I have felt the biggest roller coaster of emotions over my career, but there is no place in the world I would rather be and no greater people I would rather be around. Thank you all for reading. Here’s to an even bigger and better 2014 season!
Even though I am only 22, I have been racing for 13 years now. Over those 13 years I have a million stories and experiences to share. Some of them are funny, some are sad, and some are anywhere in between, but all of them come from the heart of a racer. While I get ready to return to the track in Denver, I’m going to take a moment to share a few funny moments with you.
One of my favorite funny memories starts with a road trip staring my hero and very amazing dad, Charlie. It was our first trip with our own bike to Denver in 2010. I always loved traveling with my father, even though sometimes we argue, most of the time we just talk and laugh. We had made it most of the way to Denver, and about 100 miles out we noticed a lot of cars on the road honking and waving to us. At this point we are both feeling pretty good about life, thinking people are excited to see our race rig coming to Denver for the NHRA national event. As people were honking and waving we both have huge smiles and are honking and waving back. Making one last stop to fuel and wash our rig before arriving to the race track, I climbed into the living quarters of our trailer we had at the time to make us a couple of sandwiches for lunch. I happened to climb up on the bed where we usually piled our belongings. I was surprised to find the window by the bed open, and both of our suitcases about to fall out of the window. I guess maybe we didn’t have as many adoring fans as we might have thought, and more so, many concerned travelers warning us that we were about to lose our belongings out of the window.
Another one of my favorite memories was on another road trip. Only this time it was with one of our crew members, Dennis Bagshaw. When I travel with the rig, I always do at least half of the driving. I love being the truck driver. Sometimes it comes as a little bit of a surprise to other traveling big rigs to see this little girl driving our 64-foot rig. We were headed to Houston, and I was stuck in a construction site. I had been waiting at the same stop sign for over 15 minutes and there was no sign of any other cars or trucks letting us onto the freeway. I decided finally to take my turn into my own hands, and may or may not have had to cut off another truck to do so. Of course, the truck driver didn’t take lightly to my pushy driving and I saw him coming in the side mirror. He had his middle finger stuck out the window and his other hand blowing his horn. I believe he was pulling up to the driver side window to have some words with me. That was until he realized I was a young girl. I have never seen a truck driver turn so many shades of red in my life. He turned his head, and booked it as fast as he could to get away from me.
When things go wrong in racing, at the end of the day what really matters is that everyone is alive and healthy. As most of you know, not too long ago I had a pretty bad accident on a motorcycle during pre-season testing. The 170-mph crash resulted in our bike being broken into two pieces. The only things salvageable from the wreck were the computer, the back wheel, and surprisingly a couple of funny stories. I remember climbing over the wall after I got done sliding, trying to locate my bike. As I’m standing there looking at my wrecked bike, I remember thinking ‘Oh great Katie. Look what you’ve done.’ How are we going to race in Gainesville now?” Keep in mind, I was in a little bit of shock at the time, now it is kind of funny to look back at the accident and think that my main concern was how I was going to get to the next race.
The next scene of the wreck was everyone showing up to where the bike and I were over the guard rail. My dad was hugging my neck so tight I couldn’t breathe. Of course I don’t find his concern funny, but I do laugh a little bit at the events to follow. The ambulance took me back to the pit, and of course we made a smart decision for my dad to take me to the hospital just to get checked out. I was sitting in the passenger seat and my still father, still traumatized from the accident, climbed into the driver’s seat. His hands were shaking so bad, he couldn’t even start the rental car. I was a little more calm then everyone at the time, because I knew that I was okay. As I was watching him shaking trying to just start the rental car, I turned to the guys who had climbed in the back seat and said “Guys I was just in a high speed accident, and by the look of my dad right now, if he drives us to the hospital, chances are good we are going to be in another one. How about somebody less shaky drive?”
I realized the severity of the accident, but when people are upset the only thing I know how to do is to try and make people smile and laugh. At the hospital, I could see that my dad understandably was still very upset, I tried once again to make light of the situation. I turned to him and said “Look dad, I know your upset, but I am okay. The important thing to remember here is that with that Suzuki out of our hair it opens us up to getting a Buell.” Finally I got to see him smile again. When times get tough, I really believe all you can do is laugh and focus on the positives.
The next tale comes from my beautiful grandmother. In Denver last year my dad and I were both trying to qualify in Pro Stock Motorcycle. As all of you probably know, grandmas are full of great wisdom and after we had both failed to qualify we were in the motorhome licking our wounds and taking part in a tiny bit of self-misery. My grandmother came to rescue with yet another uplifting comment to my father, “Charlie, speed or no speed…. You looked really good out there.”
This next story I could be in trouble for sharing, but I like all of you and your faithful readers so I will take the heat for it. We were at a race and I was so tired, my dad and a couple of our fellow racers invited me to go on a golf cart ride. Luckily, I declined and went to bed in the bed I had made by my bike in the trailer. The next morning I woke up and stepped outside to the view of our golf cart slightly smashed up and up outside of our trailer. I walked into the living quarters of the trailer, just in time to find my father climbing out of bed. As my father climbed down I noticed a pretty big cut on his forehead and dried blood on his face. I said to him “Dad what happened?” Then thinking better of the situation, I decided I would rather not know. Some stories between a father and daughter are better left un-told. What I did find out later is the last voice heard coming from the motocross track was “If you lift, you’re a sissy!” Nobody except the three passengers aboard the golf cart will really know what went on that night, and it’s probably best that way.
Before we ever thought we would be racing with the pros my family all went to the race track together to have fun and spend time as a family. We all loved each other very much, except a slight family feud between my sister, Kristen, and I. I have an obsession with Skittles candy, and she knows it. At one race where we were both racing our Jr. Dragsters she decided it would be funny to hide my Skittles from me. Only she didn’t pick a very good place to hide them. As my sister made her pass, parts came flying out of her car all the way down the track. The track crew went out to find the missing parts, only to realize her car was losing skittles, not parts. Everyone laughed and thought this was funny, until Kristin forgot to take the Skittles out of the car for her second pass. It didn’t seem as funny to everyone when they had to clean the skittles off the track for the second time that day.
The final story comes from our day’s dirt track racing. For a brief period in our lives we owned a stock car that my brother, Chance, drove. I was not old enough to be back in the pits, but I loved racing and there was no way I was going to be stuck in the stands. My brother is an extremely funny person, but in this story I don’t believe he was trying to be funny. We were in the A-Main race and Chance had tangled up with another driver. The incident was not his fault, but the girlfriend of the other driver felt otherwise. As Chance was checking out his wrecked car this girl came barreling over to our pits sticking her finger in Chance’s face and yelling at him about wrecking her boyfriend’s car. As this girl is yelling and carrying on Chance didn’t even look up at her. She continued yelling and causing a scene, and finally Chance raises his head looks up at her, smiles then politely goes back to looking at his car. This outraged the girl, but at that point she had run out of things to yell especially with Chance not listening. She put her head down and slowly walked away from our pit. I have never laughed so hard in my life, and I think that incident although I found it hilarious spoke volumes of my brother’s character.
Racing is a very serious sport, it’s dangerous and not to be taken lightly. However, at the end of the day as long as everyone is healthy that is the most important thing. Second to everyone’s health is seeing a smile on everyone’s face. I always said if racing ever stops bringing a smile to my face, I wouldn’t want to take part in it any longer. Even though I don’t ever see that happening for myself, I try hard to make sure everyone else involved in our race team keeps smiling as well. So I hope everyone found humor in some of our stories, and remember you’re involved in racing for the love of racing, the good times, and the great people. At the end of the day that’s all that matters.
I’m sitting in my parent’s office right now babysitting my nephew. He is usually sprinting around at a full throttle pace, but he decided it was okay to take a nap. I thought I could use this time to update everyone on what has been going on!
Last time I blogged I wasn’t sure what races we were going to be attending next. I am still working really hard trying to find a marketing partner, but my dad and I still live by the philosophy if it is to be it is up to me. We have been working hard so we can make it to Denver and Sonoma. I believe if everything goes according to plan we will be able to race all the West Coast races.
I have still been spending a lot of time at the race track. Recently my dad and I went out to Sacramento to help Nick Bastiao shake down his new drag bike. Since Nick’s new leathers were not finished in time, my dad Charlie rode the bike. Helping Nick has been really fun because he is actually a Top Alcohol Funny Car racer. It’s really neat watching his excitement as he sets out on a new racing adventure. I think he will do really well.
We also have been working on my dad’s turbo charged alcohol injected bike. Sometimes I think both my dad and I get a frustrated because we have been working on this bike for so long, due to always putting our attention on the Pro Stock Suzuki. I am very excited to say though I think we are almost there! Just a couple more minor things and I think we will fly.
I have also been working really hard on my business, Tough Girl Designs. I recently made the decision to move to Sacramento. I have had my shop in Orland for the last couple of years. Orland is great, I like being close to my parents and our garage where we keep the bikes. I just think Sacramento is a better fit all around for the things I want to pursue in my life. Plus it is only about an hour in a half from my parents; plenty close enough to work on the bikes on the weekends.
This move takes me a little bit out of my comfort zone. It is really a big step for my business. I could not be more excited though. I think it’s important in life to push yourself to do better. That takes stepping out of what is comfortable to you. I just know in my heart how well I can do in business, and I can’t wait to spread my wings and really go for it!
I already found a new shop. In fact it’s the coolest shop ever! They gave me screaming deal on it, and it will really help me keep my overhead low. I will be able to move in on July 1. I have been so happy and so excited to be pushing forward with my business. Now time to work on finding a sponsor and I will be all set!
The last thing I want to say is thank you to everyone who reads my blog and keeps up with what we are doing. I’m constantly receiving emails, and people are always coming up to me at the track talking about the blog. You all really can’t imagine what that means to me and the support you show just absolutely drives me to push even harder. You all are amazing! Thank you!
I remember being about 12-years old sitting in the stands at the NHRA event in Sonoma, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when a female racer pulled into the water box. A girl on a Pro Stock Bike? I thought that was the coolest thing I had ever seen. That weekend I remember my dad taking me to meet the woman, Karen Stoffer, and her husband, Gary. From that point forward I was hooked; a girl competing against the boys and winning. I had a new idol in life.
That was 10 years ago and after that weekend, I set a goal for myself of riding a Pro Stock Motorcycle. Now at 22 not only have I been getting to compete against my childhood idol, but I have been receiving guidance from Karen and Gary. As some of you might have noticed, the past two races were probably the best weekends of my life.
There have been a lot of people who have helped me make it to this level in my career: Mike Fields Jr., Blake Gann, Greg and Jimmy Underdahl, the crew at Vance & Hines, and now the Stoffer’s. In Charlotte, Gary Stoffer became my crew chief I made a career-best pass with a 6.87 at almost 194 mph in the first round of the Four-Wide race. Not only was that my career best pass, we also were first off the starting line and the first to the finish line ahead of three other bikes. We crossed the finish line 22-feet ahead of the runner-up. My smile was so big that Gary told me I was going to have bugs caked in my teeth by the time we got back to the trailer.
In the semi-finals, I made a mistake. I knew that I had staged a little deeper than I normally do. I tried to mentally think about that and keep myself from red lighting, but it still bit me. Even though I went red, we still had another great run of 6.89. Of course I was disappointed, but as Gary told me, all that matters is that at the end of the day you learned something valuable for your next race. Oh man did I learn a ton. In fact I am still smiling about the great weekend we had.
I’m extremely honored that Gary be was also my crew chief in Houston, but he was joined by Karen, who gave me lots of great advice and support. Once again, we qualified well for the quick field with a 6.93, but ran into a mechanical problem in the first round. Oh well, it was still a great month for me.
Now I have some not so wonderful news. When I was in High School, my parents told me that they would financially help me race one professional race. Bless their hearts, because that was four-years ago and two bikes and several engines ago. They did more for me then I ever could have asked. They not only supported me financially, but always gave me their love and support to follow my dreams. Of course I still have their love and support, but the racing has become more of a financial burden than we can withstand so Houston will likely be my last event for a while.
That being said, there is no way I’m quitting racing. However, after Houston I am going to have to park my Suzuki until I can secure a marketing partner to go racing with. I am so thankful for all my parents have done for me. They gave me every tool they possibly could to help me succeed in racing, and now it is up to me to make it happen.
Now that I’m home from Houston, I plan on hitting the ground running looking for a marketing partner so we can keep racing. If there is anything I have learned from my dad in life though, it is that if you want something in life you have to go after for yourself. Of course I hope we find someone to race with, but I also plan on going home and working my butt off on my own business, Tough Girl Designs. I would love someday to be financially secure enough to run my own bike. However I make it happen though, I plan on being back out at the race track with my Pro Stock Bike as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I am also going to do some local bracket racing. It has been a while since I have gotten to do that, and I am looking forward to it. From the bottom of my heart thank you to everyone who has support my racing. Especially to my family, you will never know how much all the support has meant to me. Thanks for reading everyone!