When they asked me if I wanted to be the 30 second board girl for the pro race on the following day, I was hesitant. “Well I’m not sure about wanting to do it,” I said, “But if it helps you guys out, certainly I am willing,” and I told them to put me down as a backup plan.
I was aware that donning a sexy outfit and sauntering across the track doesn’t do much to help a woman establish her credibility in a man’s sport. Wasn’t it just recently that I had read a thread on Vital MX debating whether or not all trophy girls were sluts? An absurd assumption, of course, but that did little to assure me that this was a position I wanted to put myself in.
When 1:00 came the following day, I was whisked off to the starting line for the 450 class race. Standing just a few feet away from the front lines of battle, I waited for my cue. I watched as team managers and crew chiefs prepared the gates, carving out ruts in the dirt and carefully aligning the bikes as they came in. Malcolm Stewart leaned in and exchanged a few words with his brother; Ryan Villopoto’s gaze remained fierce and stoic as people bustled around him; a pretty girl in a pit shirt handed goggles to a privateer I didn’t recognize; and someone leaned in with an umbrella, offering some last minute shade to Ryan Dungey.
There was a controlled, frenetic energy in the air. We were just moments from combustion.
Countdowns were announced. “Three minutes!” someone called. Another minute passed. The officials pointed at me, “You’re on in 10-9-8…” I silently completed the countdown and started my brief walk of fame from one side of the track to the other.
In the subsequent two minutes, the earth trembled beneath my feet as the low grumbling of engines grew to a powerful roar. The fans who were pressed up against the gates all around the start line let out a collective cry of anticipation. The 40 world-class riders crouched over handlebars like predators, their sights intent upon the next thirty minutes and two laps that lay ahead of them.
In the midst of my personal concerns, I had failed to realize how freaking cool this would be! The gates dropped, they funneled into the first turn and through the holeshot. In a quick blur, they were out of sight.
When they asked later if I would be willing to fill in again, this time I responded confidently, “Absolutely.”