Seeling redefines stereotypes drag racing motorcycles
ATLANTA (CNN/SI) -- Ever since
her father put her on a motorbike
at the age of 6, Angelle Seeling has
loved racing. Instead of dresses
and dolls, she grew up with grease
"I don't even remember having any
little girl friends when I was
little," Seeling says. "All I ever
remember is what I used to do with
my cousins which were all guys, my
brother, the guys that lived around
the block. I don't remember doing anything that a typical little girl would
And now, at age 28, Seeling does not have a typical job. In fact, she is the
only woman today to drag race motorcycles on the NHRA circuit. A far cry
from her original line of work.
"I got through nursing school knowing that I had to become a nurse to be
able to afford my hobby of motorcycle drag racing," she said. "I would
bring a binder to school with my notes that had all these motorcross and
motorcycle drag racing stickers all over it and everybody said, 'Whose
binder? Is that your brother's binder or something?' I'm like 'No, it's
mine' and I tried to explain but they never really understood what I was
At first, many people didn't. Not only was she a woman, but Steeling was
considered too small, at 5-1 and 105 pounds, to handle a 500 pound bike.
"I had some friends tell me that I was crazy to even think that I could do
this. That I was too small to handle the bike. They used the word
'manhandle.' 'You have to be able to manhandle it' and 'You're even a small
woman to trying to be womanhandling it' and I just, I never believed that. I
said I think if there's a will there's a way. There's got to be a technique. I
can be taught how to do this, I know I can!"
In 1996, Seeling brought that determination to George Bryce, a former
racer himself, who taught her how to drag motorcycles. Bryce decided to
take a chance on her and is now the owner and crew chief of her Winston
pro stock team.
"We felt like we were always under the microscope. One of the technical
people came to me after the first race and said, 'George, what are you
going to do next, have a spidermonkey ride the motorcycle?'"
For Seeling, it was as if trying to get people on the circuit to accept her as
an equal had become more difficult than winning the high-speed races on
"There were a lot of comments going around like,
'Oh my God, I don't want to be in the other lane
when she's going down the track' and I've even
heard that someone said that I was going to be like
a flag flying in the wind, just holding on for dear
life. People wouldn't say my name, it's 'the girl' and 'You need to go back
to the kitchen.'"
Last year, her second-place finish on the circuit silenced most of the
skeptics with three victories and a national elapsed time record. This
season she is the pro stock bike points leader. Still, she hasn't convinced
"We've had a lot of backlash from other people that don't expect me to do
this," she says. "So when you get out there and you set the world's record,
people think you're cheating. So we've heard a lot of that."
Maybe she hasn't been totally accepted by her peers, but being the only
female on the tour hasn't been all bad. Angelle is one of the most popular
racers with the fans and her sponsor, Winston.
"They [Winston] like the girl part for the marketing aspect of it, Seeling
explains. "They're like, 'We want your hair to be long.' I can't cut my hair.
They want my makeup to be fixed. [For] the guys, it seems so easy for them
to brush their hair and throw some cold water on their face. And for me,
I'm always in my trailer trying to keep my makeup from running and keep my
hair from being knotted."
Aesthetics all aside, Seeling says she knows she can compete.
"We proved that we can set records but we haven't yet proved that we can
win the championship and that's what my goal is."
And, she knows the competition now knows she can compete and win.
"Now they don't see me as some little girl that doesn't know what she's
doing. They see me as someone they have to beat."