Angelle Sampey carries one of the most accomplished resumes in Pro Stock Motorcycle drag racing – a three times NHRA champion, 42 times event champion and 73 times finalist.
But it remained a surprise to fans when it was announced Sampey would ride four events for the Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson team, themselves one of the most dominant outfits in the sport.
Despite her record of achievement, Sampey was left questioning her own ability when she first rode one of the Harley-Davidson Street Rods in Phoenix, Arizona.
In an honest video to her fans, Sampey said she was just not ready for the challenge.
“I learned that that Street Rod is a lot more motorcycle than I have ever had beneath me,” she said.
“I came home and did a lot of work in the gym, building up my core strength. I went to Orlando (for more testing) feeling a little bit more confident than I did in Phoenix, but still realising I had some work to do.”
The opening race of the season in Gainesville, Florida beckoned – the 50th anniversary Gatornationals. There Sampey would be aiming to prove herself.
“When I arrived in Gainesville for qualifying, I was a little apprehensive,” she said. “I was still questioning my ability. Fortunately it all came together for me in qualifying. On my first run down the track on Friday everything went smoothly. I got the bike from A to B, got it shut down, and I was so excited – even pumping my fist in the air. It was all about the fact that I finally felt comfortable on my Harley Davidson Street Rod and I firmly believed I could drive this motorcycle now.”
Sampey finished qualifying in sixth and now had confidence in her abilities to ride the motorcycle, but let her guard down at the tree.
“I went into eliminations on Sunday feeling confident with my ability to drive the bike but I think I forgot what kind of ability I have to win races,” she said. “I wasn’t confident in myself and I put too much thought into it. I made a mistake and I had a bad light; I was late on my shifts. I messed it up, that was all my fault.”
Sampey gave up a .120 to .002 holeshot against Joey Gladstone, who ran out a 6.87 to 6.88 winner.
With the champion’s fire still burning, Sampey is making changes to take advantage of the rare opportunity providing by joining the Harley-Davidson team. She has potentially championship winning horsepower underneath – now it’s up her.
“I am going to work hard in the gym, I’m going to practice on the practice tree and when I go to Vegas I am bringing a whole different attitude,” she said.
“It’s not going to be that one I had in Gainesville where I was questioning myself. I know better than that – I am better than that. I’m coming to Vegas with a vengeance.”