Wednesday, 12 August 2015
In March this year I posted a photo of my little Suzuki B120 on Instagram (@eattherich) and asked if any lady would like to ride it at Dirt Quake. The first email I had was off Diana from London, she has ridden a 125, she is a girl and more importantly wrote a proper email using full words and good grammar. She also looked fairly small, essential for a bike with a manufacturers claim of 10bhp (46 years ago)
We swapped a couple of emails, a friend in London had shared my post with her and she fancied the idea although she had not heard of Dirt Quake and had never seen a speedway track. A month later she confirmed that her entry had been accepted, she would be working in Yorkshire in July so would call in if there was an opportunity.
On the Tuesday before the event she called at my workshop, we had a quick chat and she rode the bike round the yard. I liked her straight away, she was bright and confident, but still had no idea what it was all about. It was only at this point that she discovered it was a race. One slight problem, she was going to Latitude Festival so would drive up alone on Saturday morning and back again later.
Bearing in mind I was the only person at Dirt Quake she had ever met and that was only for 5 minutes, I've got to say I was a bit sceptical as to whether it would happen. With that in mind Dave B (sometime Sideburn journalist and team's head gardener) and I got agreeably stupid after watching the racing on Friday night and fell into bed around 2.00am. Bang on 9.00am Di messaged me asking if there was anything I wanted from Tesco. Water! She soon galvanised our vagueness into some sort of action and while her team manager (me) messed about searching for the wallet I had somehow lost the night before ( it was in my sleeping bag) she went and filled in her licence forms, signed on and pushed the bike down to the pits.
While the gardener and I were quietly nervous on her behalf she was jumping up and down with excitement and after a lap of practise it was obvious she was up for the job. Sixth out of 12 in her first heat/first race/first proper ride on the bike/first time at a track was way better than i'd imagined.
As the track got harder and grippier the girls on faster bikes (all of the others) got to use their superior speed but she still held on to 8th in the final. We shared a beer, watched the prize-giving and Diana left for Latitude talking about a day at a flat track school (she is actually going to Pete Boast's school very soon). She does need a faster bike though, we're working on it !
I kept reading about girls doing their first race but they had all had a bit of practise and family/friends round them. I reckon what she did was pretty impressive and she's definitely hooked now. Real nice girl too. Pete