By Kirra Grimes
AFTER a stellar year of achievements in motocross racing, two local teenagers are on a mission to encourage more women and girls to get into the sport.
Relative newcomers to motocross, Kardella’s Macie McNaughton, 16, and Jumbunna’s Abby Grabham, 15, competed in dozens of motocross races across Victoria throughout 2018, regularly crossing the finish line at the top of the junior girls’ field.
Macie, who gave away horse riding to join the Korumburra Motorcycle Club (KMCC) two and half years ago, took out no less than 14 trophies in 2018, including first place in the junior girls’ class in both the KMCC’s Club Championships and the Gippsland Motocross Championships, and third place in the Victorian Junior Motocross Championships.
Abby, in only her first year of racing, was hot on her friend’s heels, claiming second place in the KMCC’s Club Championships and the Gippsland Championships and seventh place in the Victorian Championships.
The successes have spurred the girls on not only to train harder – at home on their families’ farms and on the KMCC’s track at Outtrim – but to share their love of the sport and, hopefully, attract more female competitors.
Both agree nothing compares to the adrenalin rush of being on a bike and say there should be nothing to stop girls giving it a go.
“Our club really includes girls. We’re probably one of the first clubs to open up a girls’ only class and we’ve had a really good group of juniors this past year. We all help each other out and stick together,” said Macie.
“Most of the guys are really supportive to us as well. They’ll congratulate us at the end of a race and say ‘good job’. They accept that we’re doing motocross now and it’s not just a boy’s sport,” she said.
Even the fear of injuries, said Macie and her mum Nicole, is something that can be overcome.
Macie was hospitalised after a serious accident at the very beginning of her racing career in 2016, when her bike’s throttle got stuck as she was going over a jump.
“It was very frightening,” said Nicole.
“She was only 14 at the time and it was her very first practice day at Outtrim and she was knocked out and had to be flown to the Royal Children’s Hospital.
“Luckily, she was wearing body armour we’d bought two days before it happened and that probably saved her lung from being punctured.”
It took Macie eight months to recover from her injuries and it was watching other young female riders such as Shepparton’s Madison Healey that inspired her to get back on the track, even if she had to hide it from her mum in the beginning.
“I had to get Dad to help me sneak down to the track a few times without Mum knowing. And I had a fear of going over jumps for about a year, but I had to push past that, because I just wasn’t getting anywhere. You’ve just got to not think of that, that it’s dangerous, you’ve just got to do it,” Macie said.
“The first ever race back, I literally felt like I could’ve been sick,” said Nicole.
“And I still struggle now but I have to let her do it. It’s like falling off a horse, you get back on. And they have a lot of safety gear these days: body armour, knee braces… there’s a lot.”
Having conquered her fear, Macie’s excited to push herself even further in 2019 as she turns 17 and moves up to the women’s class.
Abby’s set to star in her final year in the juniors, and both girls are hoping to see some new faces in the crowd at Outtrim on race days, such as when the Korumburra Motorcycle Club hosts a round of the Victorian Senior Motocross Championships on April 6 and 7.
“Anyone can come and watch racing at Outtrim for free, and we really want people to come and see what we actually do and get motocross out there more because it’s such an amazing sport,” said Macie.
“It’s exciting and different and it’s definitely not as easy as people think it is, and hopefully if other girls see us doing it, then they’ll want to try it.
“Just don’t expect to be dry and warm. You’re covered in mud a lot. But that’s the fun of it. Mud is our makeup!”
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Korumburra Motorcycle Club, visit www.kmcc.com.au.