By Hannah Faught
Defending WMX National MX Champion Ashley Fiolek has had a very unique season so far. She started the season off strong, but she crashed hard at Thunder Valley and suffered a concussion that forced her to miss both the Mt. Morris round of the WMX Championship, and the Summer X Games. Normally, that would have all but eliminated her from the eight-round WMX Championship series, but when Jessica Patterson broke her hand practicing for Red Bud, Fiolek came back to win both motos at the Red Bud and Washougal Nationals. Now, Fiolek has a very real shot at the title with two only rounds remaining. Fiolek currently sits in third place, 11 points behind Patterson and 9 behind Tarah Gieger. I recently caught up with Ashley after Washougal and this is what the most-popular female motocross rider of all-time had to say.
How do you feel going into this season having the number 1 plate?
It's always awesome to have the number one plate, and when you do have it, you are always hoping to be able to keep it!
Tell us how the 2012 season started for you?
It started off really well and I felt the best I have in a long time. Then, unfortunately, I had a bad crash and got a concussion and I missed the HiPoint race and also X Games. Right now I'm currently sitting in third place in points for championship! I’m having a lot of fun right now!
What happened at Hangtown that forced you to ride with a broken clutch lever?
Yeah, I made a mistake over this big step up and kinda washed out. So my clutch lever bent down so I had a hard time to reach it. Glad I still able to get on the podium and in one piece! Haha.
How did you get hurt?
The accident where I got the concussion was in second moto at Thunder Valley, Colorado. I don’t really remember my crash, but I guess I was told that I scrubbed over this big triple in the back and the wind was so bad that it pushed me sideway. I landed weird on hard packed area and it was slick, I washed out and cartwheeled I guess.
Did you think your title hopes were over once you got the concussion?
Yes, that's for sure since I had to sit out at High Point. It was definitely hard for me! Also, the points gap was insane amount and I was really far away from first place. I didn’t really even think I could get back in the game!
When did you realize that you were back in the title chase?
Actually after Washougal. I guess you could say never say never! Someone told me I was only 11 points off and wow did I feel good! haha…
What will it take for you to win the title again this year?
I just want to make sure I'm having fun and trying my best this year. That's all I can do, and of course, stay safe!
How does it feel to be a role model for so many young girls?
It is really an amazing feeling. When I was younger I looked up to a lot of the racers so I know how it feels to be in their place. I still do look up to a lot of the racers so it is a nice feeling to know I am part of that!
What’s your favorite life experience?
That's' a tough one! Probably when I first learned how to ride a dirt bike
What is your favorite track of all time?
Definitely Red Bud!
What rider has had the most influence on your career?
Probably Ryan Villopoto. He has accomplished so much and is such a great rider. I also think James Stewart because of how good he is to his fans.
What is your favorite obstacle on the track and why?
Probably jumps because I love to hit cool jumps so I can throw some whips.
How much has your Honda Factory ride changed your career?
It was an awesome opportunity for me. I am so stoked to be part of the team. I don’t have to worry about my bike, and Toshi is the best mechanic!
What is your ultimate goal with MX?
Probably to be first girl to qualify in Lites!
Do you think ever you’ll race in a Men’s National?
We will see! Maybe!
Do you ever think you will race SX in the future?
Its possible, but who knows?
Who is your toughest competitor and why?
I would say everyone on the gate, but Jessica Patterson would be my toughest competitor, that's for sure. We’ve been battling with each other for many years now! Its always fun!
If you could be successful in any other sport or career what would it be?
An actress in Switched at Birth or professional snowboarder!
How has your disability impacted your career?
I don’t think being deaf is different really. I just use the vibrations on the bike to feel how to shift and hold my lines.
Who is your favorite Motorsports athlete and why?
Travis Pastrana. He is a badass dude. Always nice to the fans, huge heart, awesome style and skills! We are also pretty good friends and he is fun to hang with!
What kind of impact has your mom had on your career?
My mom helps me so much. She would know when I can do better and always make sure I always try my best! She never let me down. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn't her. She does all of the boring work too like making my flights, setting up interviews and then makes sure I am there!
What kind of impact has your dad had on your career?
My dad helps me so much too! My dad was my coach when I was younger and he has helped me to achieve so much in my career. I know I can always depend on my dad and I know he is always behind me 100 percent.
What is it like to train with 7 time AMA Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath?
It was awesome! He is so amazing, so easy to work with, and I learned so much from him. He always makes sure I'm calm and having fun. Big thanks to him too!
Right before the Hangtown national, you sent out a Tweet that said this will be your last year racing WMX. What are your future racing plans?
Ask me that in November!
Tell us a little bit about the acting you have been doing.
Yeah acting was so fun! I hope I can get some more to do next year. Those people who I worked with are super friendly and so nice. Great experience for sure! Make sure you guys watch Switched At Birth on September 24th!
In your wildest dreams did you ever think you would end up to where you are today?
Yes and no. I guess sometimes I knew this would happen because I always told myself anything is possible to make anything happen and my family always believed in me. Then, sometimes I don’t believe it because I decided when I was so young I wanted to be a pro and I never really knew or understood what it would bring!