Life on the Farm. Click here to find out how a new mower turned a chore into a pleasure.

Rural Missouri Magazine

Hot pink persona
Bailey Shea Williams isn't afraid to race with the boys

Bookmark and Share  
by Jason Jenkins

Whether she’s racing women or men, 20-year-old Bailey Shea Williams has established herself as one of the nation’s top ATV racers, garnering sponsorships from companies including Dixie Chopper and Hoosier Tire.

With her long blonde hair, movie star looks and a million-dollar smile, it’s hard to believe anyone would mistake Bailey Shea Williams for a man.
But tuck Bailey’s golden locks inside a helmet, cover those painted and manicured fingernails with gloves and let her loose on a dirt track with other ATV racers, and you’ll soon forget that Bailey could be walking a fashion runway instead of turning laps and winning races at a speedway.

“I don’t ride like a girl. I don’t just sit on top of my four-wheeler and ride,” she says. “I race like a guy. I’m hanging off my quad.”

Bailey was so frustrated with having her gender assumed when she raced that she did the most drastic thing she could do to let the world know that she was no tomboy, but a girl’s girl. Now, all her ATVs and racing gear practically glow in the dark with her hot pink persona.

“You would think the guys wouldn’t want to get on it because it’s pink, but there’s a lot of people that want to ride my bikes because they’re fast,” she boasts.

Now in her sixth season, Bailey hopes to become the first female professional ATV racer on the national circuit. Photo courtesy of Rinda Williams.

Though Bailey is just beginning her sixth season of ATV racing, she’s already made her mark on the sport. In 2008, she became the first female to race in the Extreme Dirt Track National Series’ top-tier men’s amateur class. Later that season, she also became the first female to win a race in that class. To date, she’s amassed 16 championships.

“My goal is to become the first professional female ATV racer,” says the 20-year-old from Lock Springs. “I’m one step below that right now, and I’m going to work my butt off to get there.”

Bailey grew up around ATVs, tooling around on the family’s utility four-wheelers. Like most young girls, though, she enjoyed activities including dance, cheerleading and gymnastics. But all that changed when she saw her first ATV race at the age of 12. After begging her parents, Troy and Rinda, for nearly three years to let her race, she finally got her chance at 15. It wasn’t long before she found the winner’s podium.

Today, Bailey races both the Extreme Dirt Track National Series, which tours the U.S., as well as the Midwest ATV Extreme Dirt Track Racing Series, which holds many races in Missouri. Depending on the series, she will race in two to three different classes competing against men and women alike.

Racing has led to even more opportunities for Bailey, including modeling.

Success on the national level has attracted sponsorship from companies such as lawnmower manufacturer Dixie Chopper and Hoosier Tire. This year, Bailey also secured a factory-sponsored ride from Honda. Dasa Racing in California will supply both her 450cc single-cylinder four-stroke engines and exhaust pipes this season.

With speeds often exceeding 80 mph, ATV racing is both thrilling and dangerous. Over the years, Bailey has experienced her share of wrecks, including one last year that took her out of competition for most of the season. The crash sent her and her four-wheeler flipping end over end eight times, leaving Bailey with a shattered right shoulder, two broken bones and two torn ligaments in her left knee.

Despite the risks, Bailey says quitting has never crossed her mind, even after such a horrific crash. In fact, she says her biggest thrill is one of the most dangerous parts of the race — making the “holeshot” at the start.

“I love the adrenaline rush of it. All the riders line up, and when they wave the green flag, everyone races to be the first one through the first turn,” Bailey explains. “If you’re lucky, you make it and you’re the one out front. If you’re not out front, you’re going to get banged around and probably wreck. My mom hates it.”

Bailey’s on-track success has led to other opportunities. She has started modeling and making appearances at various sports and trade shows. There’s even talk of a potential reality TV series chronicling her adventures on and off the track.

Bailey does her best to let the racing world know she's a girl, including adorning her racing gear with flowers and "bedazzling" her racing googles with faux jewels.

While many young people let early success go to their heads, Bailey’s family and ties in the community keep her grounded. When not traveling to races, she takes classes at North Central Missouri College in Trenton and works at the YMCA in Chillicothe teaching gymnastics to little girls who look up to her as a role model.

“You’ve got to teach them what you know is right,” explains Bailey, who says she tries to teach her girls the lessons she’s learned from competition. She tells them that it’s often how you act when you lose that’s more important than how you act when you win.

“You’re going to have your good races and you’re going to have your bad races. Some people lose a race, and they’re throwing a fit and throwing their helmet. You have people watching you — potential sponsors — that you don’t even know are watching you. It’s not even worth it.”

Such maturity at a young age is likely to produce more opportunities in the future. Bailey says she’d like to perhaps race motocross someday, maybe even crawl into a car and try her hand at becoming the next female racing sensation like Indy car racer Danica Patrick.

“I look up to all women that are out there, proving a point that women can do anything a man can do.”

Want to watch Bailey Shea race? The Extreme Dirt Track National Championship Series visits the Ozark Mountain ATV Raceway near Ava on May 29. For more details, visit www.ozarksatvraceway.com. The Midwest ATV Extreme Dirt Track Racing Series will host four more events in Missouri during 2010. For a complete schedule, visit www.mwedt-racing.com.

Rural Missouri magazine - April 2014 issue
 
 
Rural Missouri Merchandise Out of the Way Eats Subscribe to Rural Missouri Rural Missouri Prints Store

Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102
573-659-3423

Real People. Stihl People.

Rural Missouri's Facebook Page Rural Missouri's YouTube Channel Subscribe to Rural Missouri's RSS Feed Rural Missouri | Pinterest