Thursday Jun 16 2011
Kerr redefines ‘racing like a girl’
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
Auburn native is back for another season of no-brakes racing
Even if she breaks a bone, fans will never see Fast Fridays rider Rachalle Kerr shed a tear. The 28-year old Auburn native made a fierce comeback, after a three-year absence, to the male-dominated sport of speedway motorcycle racing last week, winning first place in the second division. For Kerr, who has been racing since she was 11, having to prove she deserves to be on the track is nothing new. “At first mom said, ‘no’ and dad said, ‘why not,’” Kerr said. “I got on the bike, did a few laps and was pretty fast. (My mom) said that the rules where if I crashed I had to get up quicker than any of the guys and no tears. If we break bones, no tears ever. I had to be tougher than the boys.” Rachalle and her brother Chris Kerr competed against one another and climbed the ranks at Fast Fridays. When she started racing, girls were few and far between on the speedway motorcycle circuit. “To be honest when I first started there was less than a handful in the world doing it,” Rachalle said. “I got a lot of looks and snickers. All the guys were trying to get together to find out how they could pass the girl.” Eventually, the guys came to respect her though and Rachalle said they have become a second family. A few years ago Chris went to Europe to race professionally, while Rachalle took time off to attend school full-time. This year, she felt the need for speed again. “I love the rush of adrenaline, you know going from 0 to 60 in under three seconds,” Rachalle said. “The love of competing, competing against all the guys and showing that a woman can do well in a male-dominated sport.” Rachalle has even had offers to race the European circuit recently, but feels she needs more practice before entering the more competitive-level abroad. After all, she isn’t just out to prove something for herself, but for all women speedway racers. “I want to ride first division and also do a tour in Europe,” Rachalle said. “I’m the first woman ever to be from the U.S. I don’t want to make a fool of myself. Being the only female I want to be able to produce. I want to do good for the U.S.A, but also for all the women out there.” Chris said he thinks the experience would be good for his sister. While he is excited to see her back on a bike, seeing Rachalle get injured again does worry him. “I know she loves it and she has grown up doing it,” Chris said. “I think she is actually better than she was before. She is racing better now that she’s taken some time. I do worry about her getting hurt again.” Fast Fridays Motorcycle Speedway owner David Joiner said fans love watching Rachalle. “She’s always been a real consistent rider, nice and smooth,” Joiner said. “I have enjoyed her popularity. She’s a real pretty lady. She is good for Fast Fridays and she is always enthusiastic and positive.” Harlan Bast Sr., 75 of Auburn, has raced at Fast Fridays with his family since 1968. He has seen Rachalle grow up on the track and earn her reputation. “She was on little bitty bikes when she started,” Bast said. “Rachalle goes real fast. She’s a good rider. She’s been doing it a long time. She’s one of the veterans now. They give her a lot of applause. It’s good for racing.” Right now, Rachalle’s biggest obstacles are logistical. Working full-time and going to school part-time doesn’t leave a lot of room in her schedule, or budget, for racing. For now, she is borrowing motorcycles and looking for sponsors. It’s her fans that have kept her coming back all these years despite the hardships. “I love it, even after all these years. They are family now,” Rachalle said. “It’s great, without fans there wouldn’t be racing.” Reach Sara Seyydin at firstname.lastname@example.org.