Building, Training, Racing

Story by Holly Varey// Photos by Royal Enfield
May 28 2024

Royal Enfield has developed a winning combination when it began the all-woman initiative to build and race their own Continental GTs.

It’s the first race of the Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. 2023 Championship with MotoAmerica. Our team is less than two minutes from being on-track. As per Freddie’s guidance, I’ve given myself a pep talk and now sit on my bike, visor cracked, focused amidst the chaos. Hundreds of people swarm around our paddock, pointing, cheering, taking photos and video. Our mechanics and team facilitators keep them at bay and, in the centre of the clearing, stands our team lead, Scott Rybarik, walkie-talkie against his left ear and right hand raised with two fingers displayed. Peace. Two minutes to lift-off.

As we rev our engines and make final adjustments to our gloves, Scott’s hand displays one finger. “Focus,” I repeat to myself. “It’s just like any race.” Except, really, it’s not. This is the biggest track I’ve ever been to, with the biggest crowds, and I have an intense desire to perform planted heavily on my shoulders.

One finger pointed up, then lowers to direct us out of the paddock. Butterflies and the real world are blown away as our engines ignite the Road America grounds. We head to the track. Getting up to speed and reminding myself of all the points to perfect, we’re soon through our sighting lap and positioned on the grid, waiting for the lights to signal the start of the race. Mid-pack amongst my teammates, I’m over the tank, revs high and steady, ready to launch. My eyes are fixed on the lights and, as they spark, I fly off the line, nearly smashing into the rider in front of me. WHAT?! It’s go when the lights turn OFF, not when they turn ON! But there’s no time to feel my bruised ego; the lights are now off and it’s time to race, botched start and all.

Different From What I’m Used To

When I applied to the Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race. team last year I didn’t have much of a clue what I was in for. My racing career, up to that point, had been focused exclusively on vintage motorcycles and I’d enjoyed half a dozen seasons riding at the Vintage Road Racing Association’s events within Ontario. With life-long racer Gary McCaw, as my crew chief, I’d been competing in some of the oldest classes the club offers on rather unique machinery.

In the Period 1-250 cc class I ride a 1966 Mach 1 Ducati 250 cc single, race-refined with dry clutch, 38 mm carb, dual-plug head, oversize cam, and a front brake off a 500 BSA. The bike is light, nimble, packs nearly 29 horsepower at the rear wheel, and will shatter your eardrums, even with the SuperTrapp-equipped exhaust.

In the Pre-1965-500 cc class, I race a true work of art: a bespoke 500 cc Velocette single based on a highly modified Venom engine in a Colin Lyster frame. Combining components from various British bikes of the day, the Alan Taylor Special, named after its builder, came together in the early 1980s and went on to be one of Gary’s primary racers for decades. Reviving…

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