Yeah the Girls!
Riding through the gates of the Moto X grounds a freak tornado-strength wind from across the plains, hit me side-on. I pulled over, parking my 420 kg loaded road bike, watching shade tents blowing down and loose gear lifted and dumped. Folks quickly trying to catch flying objects and tie down canopies.
Stopping where I did, I was mesmerised by the momentous of this occasion… the scene in front of me of bikes buzzing up, down and around, their riders not at all bothered by Mother Nature’s furious boost of cyclonic wind lifting them higher over the lumpy mounds, blowing more dust and chunks of dirt into their faces. The sight and sounds on the track and in the air… blew me away!
I saw lots and lots of pink amongst other bright colours and heard the buzzing of engines like a massive swarm of excited bees… smiling spectators. Wow so many of them, roughly 700-800, focused on the race at hand, or busy supporting their daughter, sister, mother, friend, cousin, aunt, helping her prepare for the next race.
Halted in my tracks, witnessing the first event of its kind, in Australia, was a feeling hard to describe… empowering of course, but way bigger than that… much awe… pride, wonderment, speechless, spellbound and total respect.
A massive day… Moto X, being one of the toughest motor sports out there, sure ain’t for the faint-hearted. Inspirational… this is the kind of stuff that overturns the generic thinking of females in motor sport.
Yeah the Girls is an event that was hosted by the South Coast Motocross Club, Monarto, South Australia, on the 5th of March 2023… for girls only!
Expecting entrants of around 40–50, (with 20-30 pro female riders away at the Nationals in Wonthaggi, Victoria that weekend, ) to end up with 90 female entrants, was absolutely sensational. And what a day it was, Yeah the Girls alright… just WOW!!!! Believed to be the largest all-female, Moto X event held in Australia.
Generally, the female riders join with the lads, but often in a lower-graded class, or the vintage class and they just get scored differently, so they aren’t placed within the male entrants. The numbers of females at regular club events usually aren’t enough to have their own class.
After speaking with various competitors of the day, the consensus is there would be more females participating if they felt confident they could ride the track, without fear of being injured by the more vigorous and competitive male riders.
Yeah the Girls, brought out the bravery in those gals wanting to give it a go, some who had never ridden a Moto X track before and had never even considered racing. There were seasoned racers there also. It was a day of many firsts and super proud moments.
The whole point of the day was to get girls out there to experience it… and experience it they did!
The SCMX club’s advanced track has huge jumps and is pretty gnarly in some places… it’s built for serious racers, so to have newbies riding, some barely out of first gear at the start of the day but ending the day with at least a tad of airtime, was a definite blast. What a massive boost to their self-belief.
The conditions the girls rode in, with Mother Nature having her bitchy spat earlier, the dust, the crashes… not the greatest of environments for a typical girl to enjoy… they just all took it onboard, rolled with the punches with huge smiles stretched from ear to ear and proved there was nothing typical about these girls!
I spoke to a few of the competitors to get their take on the day…
Taya Smart #312
One of the five youngest entrants was six-year-old Taya Smart. She has been travelling to Moto X events her whole life watching her older brother Declan compete. One day she decided it was too boring just watching… she wanted in.
Declan, 11, is a terrific coach and role model for Taya. He’s a national-level rider and winner of State Rounds and has Taya practising and training at home with him.
This was her very first-time racing, she loved it and can’t wait to do it again! This time it was Declan who was following his sister around and supporting her race day. He, along with other big brothers rode the 110 cc peewee bikes, to support their little sisters through their rounds of the day.
I came across her as I was walking to the canteen… sitting under the shade, in her brightly coloured Moto X gear, helmets by her feet, two small motorbikes next to her… she was sucking on a lollipop, colouring in as if riding around a competition Moto X track with hills almost 7 times her height, was an everyday event… one very cool and classy kid!
How exciting that must have been for this and the other young lasses at the start of their Moto X journey, waiting near the start on their 50’s watching the older gals at the starting gate… how inspiring. A National Champ in the making?
Natasha Sky #55
“Such a wicked vibe having so many girls in one spot breaking through that barrier of females racing… amazing!” gushes Natasha.
About to turn 40, mum of a two and four-year-old, Tash tried Moto X racing at the age of 4 and loved it. It wasn’t until a few years ago, she picked it back up again.
Following her second child PND hit her pretty hard and one day her sister said she should get a bike; “Ride, it will be good, you’ll feel so much better with nothing to lose…” her sister said.
In 2020 she bought a bike. Tash remembers “I would ride and feel normal and thought what the hell? Then I would still feel normal a couple of hours after riding, then it was a couple of weeks after riding and I was still feeling great… all of a sudden, the PND was gone.
“If I didn’t have the bike then, I don’t know what would have happened; it saved me… it fully saved me.
“I would ride and the brain would switch off, not thinking about anything happening around me, just ride.”
Riding every chance she got… she then thought about racing Moto X but thought she was too old. Eventually, she said “Stuff it, just do it,” which encouraged others around her… her sister, younger riders she knew and other mums started to race… “As others saw me racing, others wanted it too.
“Most of the girls at the Yeah the Girls wouldn’t have imagined themselves racing. One friend rode only three times prior, never raced though… but she had a go.
“It wasn’t about racing, it was about all the girls getting together, getting out there, doing it and showing everyone that the girls can.”
A 30-year-old dream come true for Tash, she had a go for the first time, swinging sidecar. The thing was, she had not even met the rider before… also another first, for the rider, as she was usually a swinger. Such trust in each other too… sidecar riding is a whole other level of danger.
This girls’ day presented so many first times for so many of the girls to do something they’d not normally do… encouraged by the feeling of being safe amongst their peers and especially getting way outside their comfort zones and loving every minute of it.
Friendships built, that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
Tash’s goal is to continue doing sidecar as well as solo racing and has encouraged her sister to race also. She has the solid support of her husband and mum, as they come along, caring for the kids while she races.
Tash believes the high entrant numbers were due to the girls’ confidence in riding, without fearing the fella’s more aggressive competitive styles taking them over. On the typical club or other event days, when they’re told they’ll be mixed with the veterans, they often pull out.
“The veterans, are more considerate than the young ones, but they still are doing the high jumps as they’ve been racing forever, (just older now.) They’re not as gun-ho as the younger guys as they don’t want to crash either, but still, it’s intimidating for the girls, taking off at the start and getting sprayed with so many rocks and dirt… it doesn’t encourage the girls to do it.
With Yeah the Girls they knew it was just with other females and felt safe,” Natasha explained.
Something very different to the lads racing: There’s a Girl Code!
Tash justifies, “If one of our friends crashed, the girls behind stopped to help; the guys, they’d keep going for the win. The girls were happy to give up their spot to help their friends, a lot are mums, so the mum instinct comes through.”
Tash wears all the proper protective gear… kidney belt, hip padding, gloves, chest/back armour and good boots. Having had her bike flip on her, that armour saved her from getting a foot peg in the body.
Tash’s other goals include the Hattah Desert Race an annual event, which she has tried once before and become hooked, also she’s keen on the 24-hour trials. She hopes to keep up with swinging sidecar as well… adding an extra thrill into her races.
Her take is, “We, (as women) have a different type of determination. When we are told we can’t do something or get shunned, it gives us that next level of determination that says, bullshit… I can do it!”
Elouise and Tianna Dohse #56, #8 & #21
Sisters, Elouise and Tianna Dohse rode both sidecar and solo events the entire day, so were mighty busy… though this is not an unusual day for these girls. As soon as they could sit up, their dad, Justin, popped them on his sidecar outfit whenever he serviced or washed it. They’ve been around bikes for as long as they can remember and racing solo from about 4-6 years old.
Justin built them a peewee sidecar, which they rode for a few years then moved up to a Kawasaki 100 cc, which is what they raced until a crash in 2016, did some serious damage… earning them a helicopter ride to the hospital.
Six years on, I found them at Yeah the Girls day just as they’d finished a sidecar race, riding a beast of a machine, a KTM 525 cc, with an ELM frame.
Elouise, 19 years old and Tianna, 17, had only heard the engine run before race day; hadn’t had a chance to even ride it. They didn’t know how the gearing was, the steering or how it handled… so they used this girls’ day to get to know the bike, just get off the start line and do the first race.
“Lots of other girls came up afterwards asking us how long we’d been doing it, amazed that it was our first ride,” exclaimed Elouise.
Their bodies were not the only thing damaged in the 2016 crash, their confidence was also in need of repair, so they were a bit tender before the first race.
Elouise recalls, “We got a good take off from the line and coming around for round 2 Tianna, was like, just floor it; I knew then I had her trust back and she had her confidence back… it was just like the old days.
“We were getting tired quickly and the track was getting roughed up, but we surprised ourselves and did a little bit better each time. We hadn’t planned to jump, but in the end, with the confidence boost, we did a few jumps.”
They know each other’s moves and communicate so well, Elouise said “Flaggies have told us they’d hear us yelling to each other, asking if each is ok; I’d tell Tianna we’re going out wider for this corner… always let Tianna know if I’m about to overtake.”
Tianna reckons, “It’s amazing that everything is so loud and we’re going so fast, but I can always hear what she’s saying and I can always tell what she’s going to do by the position and how she rides.” Being sisters helps with this intuition.
Not only racing sidecar that day, but each had a solo effort, Tianna, #21, on her Kawasaki KLX 250 cc and Elouise, #8, on her Husqvarna TE 310.
Elouise is more confident riding sidecar, Tianna more so on her solo… they are both hungry to convert their childhood National Titles into adult ones…
In general race day events, they’re not shy to ride with the fellas… as they have grown up racing alongside them, but understand that some of the girls can be shy, with the boys showing off a bit. Yeah the Girls day was the perfect opportunity to escalate the girls’ confidence.
This close-knit family includes younger brother Ruben, 16, who rides, but doesn’t compete and mum Jodie and dad Justin; they were all there to support the sisters.
Jodie was amazed at the site that day, “We drove in and OMG there was so much pink. You can’t be too pritzy, like if you’re worried about dirt; it was for the girls who don’t mind getting their hands dirty.”
Jamie and Amelia Gwiazda #412 & #107
Another couple of lasses were Jamie and Amelia Gwiazda. For them, racing is a whole family affair, but that day was for mum and daughter.
Jamie, 42, has been riding for about 15 years and Amelia, 14, has been racing since she was 5.
Jamie doesn’t ride as much as the kids do, “As it hurts when I fall off,” but she keeps her hand in as a Level 3 Official.
“It was pretty awesome watching Amelia race and push through her mental limits and push that little further, to achieve a certain jump she’s been working on,” said Jamie. “She’s as safe as she can possibly be, she could get just as injured, if not more, playing football or hockey.”
Moto X is part of keeping this family close… “The kids aren’t out, going rogue; for the weekend it’s to bed early to get up to race the next day.”
Amelia, in the Junior Class, enjoyed the all-girl event, giving her a chance to compete against the others… there are some extremely talented girls in South Australia. “It’s a bit of an addiction, once you’re into it you can’t really get out because it’s in your blood.”
Riding out from the event later that arvo, I was overcome with emotion and an enormous amount of admiration for all those riders… many conquering fears and goals. To comprehend how big a deal this was and IS for the future of females in motor sport…
So humbling to witness the support these girls had for each other. Such a difference to the fellas… where the impression is that they’re firstly competitive against each other and get to the green flag however they can.
Most of the girls, although still competitive in their unique ways, genuinely hope they all do well and they all get to the finish line in one piece… if one comes off someone behind them forgoes their chance of the green flag, to assist.
Ninety decisions to wanna go get dirty, rev some engines and have some fun…
This meant a day filled with a rainbow of colours amongst the dirt and dust, lots of big smiles, the fascination of achievements unthought of previously, daunting challenges overcome, lap by lap… many weary bodies and a few dented bikes… Yeah the Girls was a rock-solid, successful AWESOME!!!
Story by Katarina Dálaigh
CREDITS, coz with an event like this, there are lots of helpers:
SCMX Club for hosting this event, all the volunteers and behind-the-scenes working bees. Huge! So many people were involved here to make this day happen and run as smoothly as it did.
Natasha Sky for all her hard work with the organisational details and her commitment to see this day born.
The Sponsors of the day, as without them, days like this can’t be run:
Reducing your Footprint
Coastal Community Support Services
Bridge Batteries & Solar
Hindmarsh Island Cleaning
Rob Stevens Auto
Funky Hair By Tash
Sole Deep Massage