Julia Rankin, 18, started riding motorcycles for fun at 8 years old. Her father had dabbled in competitive racing and her brother — three years her senior — was getting into it as well.
“I never thought I would be interested in it,” she recalled.
By 11, she gave racing a try.
“Once I got started, I really liked it,” she said. “It’s my passion.”
That passion will be on display during the inaugural Outlaw Motorcycle Flat Track Races in Carson City’s Fuji Park on Aug. 20.
Unlike cross-country, track racing is more spectator friendly, explained promoter Robert Hansen.
“This is a very small arena,” he said. “It’s right there in front of your face. You get to see every move.”
Tickets are $15 or $40 for VIP. With the purchase of an adult ticket on visitcarsoncity.com, receive a free ticket for a child 12 or under.
Rankin will be in town to meet with the press Aug. 19 then compete the following day.
According to its website, “AMA Pro Flat Track is America’s original extreme sport. At its core, it’s a highly competitive, adrenaline-fueled American motorcycle sport featuring customized motorcycles reaching top speeds of up to 140 mph, piloted by young, athletic and marketable world-class athletes.
“With roots dating back to the first two-wheel speed demons in the 1920s, AMA Pro Flat Track is widely regarded as the most prestigious and competitive form of dirt track motorcycle racing in the world.”
A year after starting to race, Rankin upgraded from her size 85 motorcycle to a 250 by the time she was 12. A year later, she was racing at the intermediate level. For the last three years, she’s raced professionally on a 450 cubic centimeter bike.
She’s usually the only woman, or one of only a few women, at a race. But she doesn’t have a problem with that — or with her competitors.
“I’m not afraid at all,” she said. “It’s a rough sport, but they don’t try to intimidate me. They respect me.”
At the same time, she said, they don’t go easy on her.
“They want to win as much as I do,” she said.
From Monterey, Calif., Rankin graduated early from home school and has now completed a course to become a certified nursing assistant.
Her father travels with her and takes charge of her motorcycle maintenance, although, she does some of it herself, as well.
“I’ll watch him do it, then I’ll do it myself,” she said.
She said she’s looking forward to the Outlaw Motorcycle Races.
“It’s going to be a good show,” she said. “There’s going to be a really good turnout. A lot of racers are going to be there.”