Ashley Fiolek | New Chapters
Photos by Christie Oliver
Ashley Fiolek set many record in motocross during her five-year professional racing career. In addition to becoming the first deaf professional racer on the women’s circuit, she also became the first deaf National winner, the first deaf WMX National Champion, and the first woman to earn a full factory ride. Cute and full of personality, Fiolek became the poster girl for women’s motocross during her reign as champion, attracting more attention than ever to the female side of the sport. Fiolek alone is responsible for encouraging many young girls to pick up a helmet and a pair of boots and give dirt bikes a try. Fiolek earned her first of four WMX National Championships as a privateer, but was offered a full factory Honda ride shortly thereafter. She battled tooth-in-nail with her rival Jessica Patterson throughout her career, and after earning her last WMX National Championship in 2012, announced her retirement from the sport.
In the years since, Fiolek has dabbled in just about everything, from off-road racing, to acting, to stunt work and motocross schools. Now a full-time SoCal resident, the native Floridian has been a frequent site at many of our local tracks, and we managed to catch up with her to see what life after racing is like for a former women’s champ.
It's been three years since you retired from professional racing. Can you tell us what you've been up to?
Well, most recently I was doing the Marvel Universe Live tour. It started last April, but I quit in few months ago. Also, I just started doing Women’s MX Schools, and I've been training with few girls. I have also been riding, but just for fun.
The Marvel Universe Live tour is an action show, right? What exactly did you do? Jump a bike through a ring of fire?
[Laughs] Yes, it's a stunt action show with super heroes and villains. I was a Hydra rider – a villain – and a shield fighter for Black Widow. I wish I was able to jump a bike through a ring of fire [laughs], but no, I had to try to chase Captain America and Black Widow down on a motorcycle. I had to do a few crashes in every show.
Did you have to go to stunt school? Or were you already a pro at crashing?
No stunt school, but I had to do this fight audition in Orlando and it was actually fun! It was a different experience, for sure. I mean, you guys know I am already a pro at crashing. [Laughs]
We saw you in a few episodes of Switched At Birth. Any new opportunities with acting at all?
Yeah I did a few different acting gigs. I just did this video to promote the digital Bolex camera and it was really sweet! Also, I was in this movie called “Superdeafy,”
You were pretty tighty-lipped when you walked away from racing. Now that it's been a few years, can you say why you made the decision to retire after winning your fourth championship?
Well, I quit because there was no support for women’s motocross racing anymore. It was great for a few years, but I told myself I wouldn't risk doing something for no money. It's sad because I know all the girls and I worked so hard to be on the top like the guys, but unfortunately we weren't treated as well as the men. I can say that I am happy to have walked away from racing healthy and also that I accomplished all of my goals.
You were racing at the best time for women's mx: racing at the MX Nationals, television coverage, factory rides, etc. Is it sad to see how far women's racing has fallen?
Yeah definitely! Like I said, all girls including myself have work so hard to be on the top and we deserve to be treated like the men. Like racing at the MX Nationals, factory rides, money and TV coverage. Hopefully, one day it will change.
Looking back on your career, is it pretty crazy to think that you were on Team Honda and made a good living racing a dirt bike as a female?
Yes it was unreal! It was absolutely blessed to be part of Team Honda. I was lucky to make a good living racing a dirt bike as a female. It was something that I've always wanted to do since I was little girl.
I know that you bought a home with the money you earned. But what are you doing for a living now?Well, now I am doing Women’s MX Schools, so I train with some girls in Southern California and all over the United Stats. I love to help girls. If anyone is interested, please contact me at AshleyFiolekMxCoach@gmail.com for more information.
The past few times we've seen you riding, you have been on a Husqvarna. How did your association with them come about?
I can't thank Husqvarna enough for letting me ride their TC125! Well, my agent Miki Keller and I were talking to Husqvarna and they were willing to help me out. Husky wanted me to ride for them to help sell the bikes. Also, I thought it would be sweet to be the only girl who rides for Husqvarna besides Sandra Gomez. The bike is amazing! I love it, and I am having fun being back on two-stroke 125. I forgot how much fun it is to ride a 125!
Now that it's not a full-time job anymore, how do you feel about riding? Is it more fun?
It’s so much fun to enjoy riding with no weight on my shoulder anymore! It's really nice to just ride for fun. I love to throw whips and ride with my friends. I missed that.
What do you think about the current state of women's motocross? What needs to be done to bring it back to the glory days?
To be honest it’s just sad to see how they treat women's professional motocross like it’s an amateur class, when they are really a professional. It’s disappointing to see it because I know they deserve so much better and so much more exposure. I am not sure how, but maybe if all women stood up for each other and tried to make a new series, that coudl work. All I believe is that all women in motocross deserve to be treated like the guys.
Last question. You raced against Vicki Golden a bit before you retired. How do you feel about her attempts to race in the men's SX class, her X Games wins, etc.?
It was always fun to race against Vicki! I thought it was absolutely bad ass of her to attempt to race in the men's SX class. She's a very talented rider and its great to see more girls to try something new challenges!