Last December I had the pleasure of visiting a well-known woman in the motorcycle industry, Valerie Thompson, the Queen of Speed, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Who is she?
Valerie is very well known in the motorcycle and racing world. She has a long list of accomplishments, holding eight speed records; seven in the 200 mph club and one in the 300 mph club. Inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame in 2018, she is the only woman on the list of the “World’s Top 10 Fastest Motorcycle Riders.”
Born in 1967, Valerie was raised in Takoma, Washington. Her father worked in construction and her mother in health care. Valerie worked in banking for 13 years, but when she lost her job, she began to rethink her life. She was done with spending several hours a day in a cubicle.
In 1999, at the age of 32, Valerie started riding a motorcycle. Her first bike was a 1200 Custom, Harley Davidson Sportster, which she only kept for three months. She then went on to buy a brand new 2000 Softail Fatboy. A motorcycle she still has to this day. Five years later she moved to Arizona, it was a new beginning for her; to be able to take advantage of the good weather and ride her motorcycle as often as possible.
“Everyone told me that I had a glow, like a pregnant woman. Not because I was, but because of the way I felt when I rode my motorcycle.” She laughingly tells me.
The motorcycle clearly changed her life completely. It wasn’t long before she began racing. Why? Well, Valerie would race in the streets of Scottsdale. Her friends thought it might be a better idea to get out on the tracks for some speed. That’s what she did! And she discovered a new passion.
Valerie had often been a victim of bullying and was told that she would never be able to reach her goals. These comments only made her want to show people that, yes, she could do it.
“When I was young, I was often bullied because I was skinny. Later on, I began working out and I became very passionate about fitness. By the same token, it has helped me to develop greater self-confidence. How many times have I been told I won’t reach such a speed! I would convert all the negative comments into energy to push myself to the limit. Now look where I am.” She says proudly.
Valerie didn’t have a role model growing up. She would have loved to have someone to look up to, someone to inspire her. This is why she is always a little bit surprised when she meets young children today who tell her that they look up to her as their role model.
But she herself tells everyone she meets: “Create your own hero/Be your own hero.”
Valerie has participated in many speed and drag competitions. In 2011, she reached a speed of more than 200 mph on a BMW S1000RR. Not long before, a man had told her that she would never reach more than 180 mph on this machine. Victory was sweet!
In 2016, at the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials, she impressed the racing industry when she reached the speed of 304.263 mph (489.663 km/h)! She became the first woman to reach over 300 mph on a two-wheeled vehicle. But she didn’t stop there.
In 2018, riding the BUB 7 Streamliner, she reached a record speed of 328.467 mph (528.616 km/h)! This made her the fastest female motorcycle racer in the world, nothing less.
For her it’s simple – “You don’t win on luck, you win on passion.”
A Dangerous Sport
Striving to be faster and faster can be very dangerous, as we all know.
In March 2018, at a competition in Australia, Valerie had an accident while riding the Streamliner, an 8,740-pound machine. She crashed at a speed of 363 mph, sliding for nearly a mile. She tells me that everything was in slow motion during the accident, she knew it would be bad, but she was at peace with whatever might happen; no one has ever survived an accident at that speed. Yet Valerie walked away with only a few bruises and scratches.
“Without the team’s dedication to the Streamliner’s safety engineering, I wouldn’t be here talking to you. I’m so grateful to them.” She says seriously.
Valerie admits it herself, she has chosen a difficult but rewarding career. Racing has helped her become the woman she is today, the woman she has always wanted to be; courageous, determined and confident.
The Ultimate Goal
Valerie has only one thing on her mind right now: Break both world records! Firstly, the motorcycle speed record of 376.363 mph and secondly, the current conventional wheel-driven, piston-powered automobile class record of 417.020 mph. By breaking these two records, Valerie would be achieving something that NO ONE – man or woman – has yet achieved. She wants to hold the most prestigious record, to be the fastest, period.
Be sure to watch: The upcoming documentary “Rockets and Titans.” The story of an all but forgotten racing legend who enlists a rider, Valerie Thompson, to take on two big-budget teams in a race to become the first bike to break the 400 mph barrier.
For a list of all the upcoming races and events that Valerie will be attending, please visit her website at https://valeriethompsonracing.com/.