To celebrate Women’s History Month, we are looking at several women chasing their motorsports dreams. Sure, there are the usual suspects including Shirley Muldowney, Danica Patrick and Valerie Thompson, but, Burns Stainless would like to give some light to lesser known but up and coming champions. Today we feature a young woman in Formula Drift; Amanda Sorensen, “The Fastest Woman on Water,” Shelby Ebert; and a Bagger Racing League competitor, Patricia Fernandez.
Amanda Sorensen – Formula Drift
“I was on the bank; I had just initiated a delicate smokey slide at 95 miles per hour. My visor was cracked, I was right up on the wall, and I realized that it was simply insane. And I loved every moment of it.” Said Amanda Sorensen in an interview with AutoRevolution. From BMX, UTV Racing, Figure Skating, and now Drifting. Amanda comes from a family of racers. Growing up competing with her brother Branden and former Trophy Truck racer father Randy taught them both to be tenacious competitors.
Amanda has moved her way up the drifting ladder as a driver and marketer for the sport. Her racing began when she was go-karting at age 5. At the age of 20, she is vying to be the first woman in Formula Drift Pro Series in her LSX powered BMW e46 M3.
She continues in her interview: “… I was not ready at all to drive a Pro-car. Going from 200hp to 600hp was an eye-opener. That thing was crazy, it gave me such an adrenaline rush.”
In 2022 her parents said if she and her brother Branden wanted to continue in the Drifting series, they would have to secure their own sponsorship. She is brilliant with social media (over 750k followers on Instagram) and is busy securing a spot in the Formula Drift Prospec series. She is well on her way!
Follow Amanda and the Sorensen Racing Team at SorensenMotorsports.com.
Shelby Ebert – Speed Boat Racing KDBA
180 MPH in a quarter mile is super impressive. Especially when you are racing on the top of a shallow lake. That is what it is like to be “The Fastest Woman on Water”. Like Amanda, Shelby’s dad was a racer. He has been racing boats for more than 30 years. At age 14, Shelby started racing jet skis and made her way through the classes getting faster and faster as she has gotten older. From Jet Skis she moved to open sportsman class boats, and now she races a pro-modified drag boat.
Imagine for a second you pull on a helmet equipped with oxygen, get strapped into a capsule with a roll-cage just inches in front of an 8000-horsepower nitro-powered big block of a hydro-style hull and v-drive on the water. Idling towards the start you reach up to grab a rope and when commanded, you drop the canopy and hit the gas. In just a hair over 7 seconds, you let off the go-juice at just over 180 miles per hour!
That is exactly what Shelby Ebert from Wamego, Kansas does after work. Her day job is the digital marketing and sales coordinator at Heartland Motorsports Park just south of Topeka Kansas. She is also studying accounting and marketing at Kansas State University.
“It was kind of funny. I would come back from races winning a World Championship and pretty much no one knew it. I didn’t do the sorority thing or go to football games on the weekends. I was working on boats with my dad and racing in the summer and fall.” Said Shelby in an interview with home-town paper The Topeka Capital-Journal.
Her parents Todd and Janet Ebert, moved with her racing life, first as traditional parents, to teammates and eventually the support staff.
At 21, she became a professional drag boat racer, created the brand, looking for sponsors and since partnered with her parents to run the business-side of her career. She is now a 6X World Champion and still the Fastest Woman on Water. Learn more at @WorldChamp326
Patricia Fernandez-West – Bagger Racing League
Unlike our previous daredevils, err Professional Racers, Patricia wasn’t influenced by a racing father. In-fact, both her parents were against racing and against motorcycles. She would have to move out of the house if she was to throw a leg over a bike. And that she did.
She bought her first house and started racing in 2010. She stared with club racing and by the end of 2012, she qualified for the last three Pro rounds of the racing season. Since 2014 she has been running pro class AMA Superbikes! She has raced all around the world and now throwing a leg over a bagger.
"That ain't easy at 5’3",” she admits in a recent interview with Jalopnik. She has never been able to flat-foot anything she’s raced except mini-dirt bikes. At the start of a bagger race she was leaned all the way over to have her left foot on the ground. It was like turning left to go straight. The seats are higher than her belly button and at first, she was a little scared to get up on it.
Her bagger is 635 pounds, that’s nearly double the 370 pounds of her Superbike. Although not quite as fast as the Superbikes, these much heavier and wider baggers are a lot of work on the track. They must be "lifted-up" to turn. Everyone in the Bagger Grand Prix is sore and need to stretch after a race. The wheelbase is longer, and the engines have a lot of low-end torque. They wiggle a bit on the throttle, but the long wheelbase keeps them settled.
Riding with the Indian team she notices the difference in the powerband. A superbike can rev to 17K, going to 5K on the Indian, the bike was pop-popping. Shifting is much faster. She says even if you miss-shift and end up in a higher gear, there is still so much torque, it isn’t as bad as a Superbike.
Patricia loves the faster tracks like Laguna Seca. As a smaller person "it’s a lot harder to muscle the big bikes flip-flopping on the turns." The long straights are more about who has the guts to hold the throttle longer. And that fits her to a tee!
Motorcycle racing is one of the only sports in the world that isn’t sex divided. She is equally qualified and skilled to be on the grid as anyone else and has found the Bagger classes to be more inclusive than Superbikes. Being one of the only women in the Bagger Racing League is a benefit as she receives more attention in media and TV time to promote the sport. Follow Patricia here: @lady_racer926
We hope you are inspired as much as we are. Each woman featured has said that if they can do it, then so can you. Are you ready?