Drag Illustrated Issue 168, May 2021 - Page 80

RACING FOR THE RIGHT REASONS BY JOSH HACHAT /// PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICK BELDEN AND NHRA

WOMEN

OF POWER 2021

ANGELLE SAMPEY

RACING FOR THE RIGHT REASONS BY JOSH HACHAT /// PHOTOGRAPHS BY RICK BELDEN AND NHRA

Before she ever returned to the sport in 2014 , Angelle Sampey ’ s legacy was safe . She had accumulated three world titles , 40-plus victories and a resume that made her not only the winningest female in NHRA history , but also one of the top riders ever in Pro Stock Motorcycle .
While Sampey stopped racing to raise a family in 2010 , she hopes her return has been just as important for her two daughters .
“ The biggest reason I ’ m still out there is because of my two daughters ,” Sampey says . “ They ’ re watching it and enjoying it , and especially with Ava , she ’ s seeing me work . She knows I ’ m in the gym at 4 a . m . and I know it ’ s getting planted in their brain that their mom works her butt off .”
That much has been evident since Sampey returned to the sport and it ’ s been especially apparent during her time with Vance & Hines . She picked up her 43rd career win a year ago in Indy on a Harley-Davidson , and when that company abruptly left the sport , Sampey wondered if that was it . But a new opportunity came up with Vance
& Hines , and Sampey is back on a Suzuki , this time the new four-valve bike that has taken the class by storm in 2021 .
It ’ s been good for Sampey , too , as she made her first career 200-mph pass earlier this year , doing it at Gainesville to join the Denso 200-mph club .
Both daughters received a special 200-mph jacket as well , and it emphasized that Sampey ’ s return to the sport has been for all the right reasons .
“ The passion I have racing the bike , it ’ s stronger than it ’ s ever been ,” Sampey says . “ I get asked , ‘ Why do it still do it ?’ I want to continue to show my kids what they can do . I ’ m proud of what I ’ ve been able to accomplish and it feels really good .”
The last few years have also shown just how talented Sampey is in the class . It ’ s not what she planned for , jumping from one bike to the next , but she ’ s shown to be plenty capable no matter the bike . In fact , Sampey has conquered just about every style of motorcycle in the class , from Harleys to a Buell , Victory , GSXR-1 , Victory , Hayabusa and more .
She ’ s back on a Suzuki and currently fifth in points , chasing more wins , another championship and showing her true skills in the class . Through it all , Sampey says she still battles with her confidence and it ’ s that constant mental fight to improve that drives her .
Despite her impressive accomplishment , it doesn ’ t take much for doubt to creep in . But as Sampey continues to push away those doubts with her success , she ’ s also proving she can ride pretty much anything on two wheels .
“ That Harley was my baby and I was so looking forward to riding that , but I hope to finish my career on this Suzuki ,” Sampey says . “ But I ’ ve also learned to never say never . I ’ m proud of it because I ’ ve had to be very adaptable .
“ It becomes a mental thing and you can completely defeat yourself mentally . It ’ s really easy to beat yourself up and make it harder than it is . I ’ ve had to get out of my own head , and you want it so bad you start overthinking it . I feel like I should be out there winning . I know that ’ s what i ’ m capable of , I know that ’ s what the bike is capable of and I just want to keep doing a better job .” DI
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