To Melissa Paris, racing motorcycles is a genderless activity. The motorcycle doesn’t care if you’re male or female – what matters is beating the person in front of you. She’s carried this mindset throughout her racing career. She hadn’t even ridden a motorcycle until the old (in motorcycle terms) age of 20, but she took to it like a fish to water and rose through the ranks quickly, eventually becoming a regular fixture at AMA, then MotoAmerica competition – beating plenty of men along the way.

She went on to marry four-time AMA/MotoAmerica Superbike champion Josh Hayes, but made a point to build her racing program herself, without relying on her big-name husband. This determination led her to create a team, MP13 Racing, whose rider, 16-year-old Jamie Astudillo, had been impressing on the off-road racing scene. Paris took on the role of team owner and mentor to Jamie while also racing internationally herself, competing in various world-level championships.

What many don’t know is that Paris continued to race motorcycles until she was four months pregnant. To focus on this, however, would be to discredit what she’s done as a racer, a team owner, a mentor, and most importantly, as a woman making her own informed decisions. Of course, she realizes the stigma some may attempt to place on her, but as the video below shows, what matters more to Melissa Paris is empowering the next generation of girl racers.