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Event Recap: Fun and Free Expression at Femmewalla

What the heck is Femmewalla?

by Rachael Maltbie; Photos by Salvador Maltie and Caliphotography
1/29/2013

The third annual Femmewalla all-women track day started off cold and damp but ended with new skills learned, new friendships formed and lots of smiles. More than 60 women riders attended the December event at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway in Desert Center, Calif., some traveling from as far as the East Coast. The strong turnout made it clear that Femmewalla has come a long way since the inaugural event in 2010, when just three female road racers participated.  

A group photo of the more than 60 women who attended the 2012 Femmewalla event, which raised nearly $10,000 for the Unforgettables Foundation.
A group photo of the more than 60 women who attended the 2012 Femmewalla event, which raised nearly $10,000 for the Unforgettables Foundation.

Lined up and ready to go, the ladies begin the slow-speed trek out of the hot-pit lane and onto the track.
Lined up and ready to go, the ladies begin the slow-speed trek out of the hot-pit lane and onto the track.

Aimee Grana, co-owner of Chuckwalla, started Femmewalla as a way for women to race on the track free from the intimidation that often comes with being surrounded by checkered-flag-hungry men. “Being a female rider, I wanted more women to be able to come and enjoy this sport,” Aimee said.  

Aimee Grana and her husband, Micky, explain the history of Femmewalla and the rules of the track for an audience of female riders.
Aimee Grana and her husband, Micky, explain the history of Femmewalla and the rules of the track for an audience of female riders.

AMA pro road racer Melissa Paris-Hayes and CVMA racer Christin Voros sign in the ladies and pass out free shirts for the Femmewalla track day.
AMA pro road racer Melissa Paris-Hayes and CVMA racer Christin Voros sign in the ladies and pass out free shirts for the Femmewalla track day.

Women of all skill levels, from novice street riders to AMA pro road racers like Melissa Paris-Hayes, rode on the track. Windblown ponytails and pink-accented leathers abounded, and the mood was one of exhilaration and excitement. Some spent part of the day riding two-up with instructor Jason Pridmore to get a sense of how to ride effectively on a track. “I’ve only been on the track once by myself,” said Janet Wang from Irvine, Calif., who rides a 2005 Honda CBR600RR. “I got back on with Jason the second time and just tried to keep my feet on the pegs as he did wheelies with me on the back of the bike!”  

Getting in the spirit of the day, Linda Wilson sports a pink tutu aboard her 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750. Linda is a grandmother who has signed up for nearly 20 track days for the 2013 season—how's that for inspiration!
Getting in the spirit of the day, Linda Wilson sports a pink tutu aboard her 2012 Suzuki GSX-R750. Linda is a grandmother who has signed up for nearly 20 track days for the 2013 season—how's that for inspiration!

Jennifer Lee crashed this 2012 Honda CBR600RR earlier in the day, but rather than let road-rashed plastics stop her, she stripped the left side of her bike bare and headed back out for more track time.
Jennifer Lee crashed this 2012 Honda CBR600RR earlier in the day, but rather than let road-rashed plastics stop her, she stripped the left side of her bike bare and headed back out for more track time.

Jason was one of the instructors onsite from the Jason Pridmore Star Motorcycle School, who came out to provide instruction and promote safety. Randy Acevedo from InHouse Suspension was also on hand offering suspension tuning services, while Dale Kieffer from Racers Edge Performance provided on-track video instruction. All fees collected from these services, along with participation fees and raffle tickets, were donated to the Unforgettables Foundation, a charity providing financial assistance to families who have lost children unexpectedly.  

CVMA racer Sofia Amadio taught a clinic during the lunch hour about how to change a bike's oil with simple everyday tools.
CVMA racer Sofia Amadio taught a clinic during the lunch hour about how to change a bike's oil with simple everyday tools.

Jason Pridmore provided two-up demos throughout the day, a big hit with some of the women riders.
Jason Pridmore provided two-up demos throughout the day, a big hit with some of the women riders.

The work of the Unforgettables Foundation is a deeply personal one for Aimee and her husband, who received assistance from the charity when their youngest daughter died in an accident in 2008. “This racetrack saved our lives because it gave us a purpose to keep moving forward,” Aimee said. “We’ll do whatever we can to give back to the foundation that helps other people who have suffered the same devastation that we have.”  

A photo of Aimee’s little girl sits on the table with the raffle prizes as a reminder of where proceeds from the day would be donated.
A photo of Aimee’s little girl sits on the table with the raffle prizes as a reminder of where proceeds from the day would be donated.

Several sponsors, including those businesses already mentioned, came together to offer their services to attendees and donate items for the raffle. Overall, the event raised nearly $10,000 for the Unforgettables Foundation, some of which was expected to go toward helping families affected by the recent Connecticut school shootings. 

“A lot of people will benefit from today,” said Jorie Starr from Hemet, Calif., who rides a 2002 Suzuki GSX-R600, adding that the track day had been "awesome." With the number of women who attend Femmewalla growing exponentially every year, next year’s women-only track day is sure to be just as inspiring and exciting. Keep up to date with the organization and see more pictures from the 2012 event by visiting the Femmewalla Facebook page

To learn more about Rachel Maltbie, visit the WRN Contributors page. 

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