Sunday, October 18, 2009


In the book, Fast Women: The Legendary Ladies of Racing, Todd McCarthy noted that the heyday for women automobile racers came in the 1950s. McCarthy referred to the period between 1953 and 1958 as "a privileged moment in the grand sweep of American automobile racing, a small window of time when the sport was accessible to virtually anyone with a desire to pursue it; if you had a car and were good enough, you could drive it to a track and race."

Today, however, women represent a disproportionally small demographic in the racing world, and this appears to be especially true in motorcycle racing. Take the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, for example. Participation is open to anyone, but only 3% of the competitors are women in the motorcycle divisions. The fact is, there are more umbrella girls on the grid than there are female racers.

I am not trying to make any political statements here. Racing is what it is. And there is good news; women are competing, and more women have been entering the fray. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that Brianne Corn was competing in the 750cc motorcycle division this year. The 750cc division is an exceptionally competitive class and attracts a lot of top riders.

Brianne Corn is the motivated, humble, and remarkable woman who was scraping pegs alongside top racing talents such as Davey Durelle and Gary Trachy. She's 40 years old, and she's only been racing for the past five years. What got her started? It was a trip to Italy, and a casual encounter with a couple of fully caged rally cars, power sliding though narrow mountain passes in the shadow of a castle.

We shot this interview with Brianne as she was preparing to race the Peak's grueling 156 turns -- starting at 9,000 feet and finishing at 14,100 feet -- on a bike she put together herself. Brianne was not racing in some powder-puff exhibition class; this was the real deal.