Scout Fletcher

Women Who Ride: New Zealand racer Scout Fletcher (Image courtesy of JDAS Photography)

Name: Scout Tamara Fletcher
Age: 18
Country: New Zealand
Languages: English, Dutch
Years Riding: 5
Height: 5ft 2
Current motorcycles: 1995 Suzuki RMX250, 1989 Suzuki RG250, 1998 Suzuki RG150, 1929 Ariel 500
Past motorcycles: 1971 Yamaha Mini Enduro, Suzuki Mudbug
Riding Gear: Shoei and Arai helmets, Rev-it Leathers and gloves, Sidi boots
(Image courtesy of JDAS Photography)


Please introduce yourself. Kia Ora! I am an 18 year old motorcycle mad chick from Christchurch, New Zealand. I live on a lifestyle block in the outskirts of the city of Christchurch with my Dad, Oma & Opa (grandparents). I have three older siblings, all of whom have left the nest.

I am currently working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Canterbury. At the moment, I’m working full time as a painter and plasterer. I’m taking a gap semester off university after my mother passed away to earn some money and pursue some of my passions. I have jumped around different jobs since finishing school, varying from casual agricultural work right through to customer service work. After spending the first thirteen years of my life studying I decided to take Uni in small bits as a journey and enjoy doing the things I can here and now. You never know what tomorrow is going to bring.

Outside of training, motorcycles and university there isn’t a lot of time left. But when there is some free time I sure do love to spend time with my choice family and friends. I love to be active and travel and explore new and old historic environments and places, particularly on foot or on a pedal pusher.

Describe your path into motorcycling. I dreamed of being on two wheels before being on two legs and I always  knew it was something I would end up doing. Because we lived in the city, I was unable to ride my first motorcycle until I was thirteen when we moved into a country and I purchased an old farm bike. From there I was hooked!

My first track day came about when Dad got into contact with my mentor and a great friend, Peter Jones. He took me through two years of racing a Suzuki RG150, in which time I managed to win a lot of the local championships.

From there, I stepped up to the lightweight, highly tuned Honda RS125 Grand Prix Machine. I was in a team of two, racing for Team Race Supplies. I jumped into the 2013 National Championships early on, with only a few meetings and little experience under my belt and came out with 1st in the New Zealand TT & 2nd overall in the 125GP NZ Road Race Championships. This achievement was beyond my wildest dream for a rookie season.

Racing has given me the opportunity to travel all around New Zealand and abroad and ride an assortment of very special and different machines. Most recently I competed in the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed in Sydney Australia. On two unknown bikes on an unknown track I managed to finish 3rd overall in the 125 GP class. I was absolutely thrilled. After this I was given this amazing opportunity in which I took a 1st on a Pre War 350 Rudge and qualified well on the classic 125, although I did not finish due to some mechanical issues.

Women Who Ride: Scout Fletcher at the Barry Sheene Oceania Challenge at Hampton Downs (Image courtesy of ClmintiePix)

Scout Fletcher at the Barry Sheene Oceania Challenge at Hampton Downs (Image courtesy of ClmintiePix)

In addition to racing, I also do a lot of trail and trials riding around the forest and river beds on my RMX250. I also love to get out and about on any road bikes that people lend me, as I blew my RG250 up recently. My most recent ride was on an immaculate condition 1956 Triumph Bonneville on the International Women’s Ride day!

What class of bikes do you currently race?
Everything and anything that people lend to me or that I am sponsored for!  I have raced 1920s Ariels, Rudgs, AJSs, to 50s Manx Nortons, Indians to 70s GP bikes right through to various modern bikes – 125s, 650s, 750s and so on. I generally race the vintage, pre-war, post-war, classic, post-classic classes. I’m also a huge fan of and I’ve had most of my success on 125GP machines.

Women Who Ride: Scout Fletcher races a 1926 AJS (Photo Credit: Craig Dawson)

Scout Fletcher races a 1926 AJS (Photo Credit: Craig Dawson)

Women Who Ride: Scout Fletcher races a vintage Rudge (Photo Credit: Craig Dawson)

Scout Fletcher races a vintage Rudge (Photo Credit: Craig Dawson)

Can you describe a typical race day? I find it hard to define a typical race day, as there are so many variables which can change the experience. For me, I find the biggest factor in this being the type of motorcycles we are riding – classic or modern. Personally, I find the classic race days the most enjoyable and relaxed. No matter how unfamiliar the tracks or people, they all have a similar laid back atmosphere and environment that you so need when riding a new bike or track!

A typical race day starts days, even weeks before with the bike prep all leading up to the meeting! On the day itself – rock up, sign on, riders briefing and its visors down and all go!

A trip to the race track is more of like a family reunion, even if it’s a new place and new people. They are all family.

How do you train to be in top form for a race? Both mental and physical fitness is a very important part for any high performance sport – particularly motor sports due to increased speed- reactions times- risk etc.

In order to keep physically fit, I spend a lot of time doing cardio training such as biking and running in summer, and skiing in winter. Muscle strength is equally important, so I spend a lot of time focusing on keeping strong and on handling my own body weight and throwing it around.

To keep mentally fit I like to go over races and race tracks in my head. All the things you have to think about when you’re racing – if you think about them enough consciously they become part of the sub-conscious. This allows me to focus on other aspects during the race.

Do you wrench on your own bikes or do you have a mechanic who works on them? As much as I love to get in there and get my hands dirty, it can be quite difficult to focus on riding and spannering- so I find it’s best to just stick to one.

Also, when you’re riding so many different machines owned by different people, it’s impossible to keep up with the relevant knowledge for each of them. It’s easier to leave it to the owners and their mechanics, especially on some of the gorgeous rare classics!

Do you ride anything other than sport bikes?
I have myself a very cool wee (big tall- can hardly get on it!!) 2 stroke 250 motocross beast. It’s fantastic to train in the off season and just have general fun on. I don’t compete in motocross so much but do trail and trials riding at the local forest andriver beds. Its great for keeping you sharp. I also ride some street bikes and am hopefully giving speedway a crack later in the year. Speedway is the clay or dirt oval track where they drift around on the bikes with no brakes or gears!! Only thing to stop you is the concrete wall around the outside. Crazy, but cool!

If you could race your dream bike on any race track in the world, what bike would it be and on which track? Oh now that is a tough one, but I think if I had to choose,  much to many people’s dismay, it would have to be the infamous Isle of Man race circuit. It has been my dream since I was young. As for a bike – it would probably have to be The Britten. The bike is an amazing piece of engineering and New Zealand history and makes me proud to be a Kiwi!

[From WikipediaThe Britten V1000 is a handbuilt race motorcycle designed and built by mechanical engineer John Britten and a group of friends in Christchurch, New Zealand during the early 1990s. The bike went on to win the Battle of the Twins in Daytona, USA and set a number of world speed records.]

Do you follow any professional racing series? Like most fellow motorcyclists, I sure do follow MotoGP and World Superbike. Some absolutely fantastic racing – particularly in the Moto3 class which is my favorite. Though I must admit – my heart belongs to Valentino Rossi. Always will.

Is New Zealand a good place for professional road racing? Yes and No. In my opinion, the road racing community itself is very well established and great at nurturing upcoming talent. We have a huge amount of race tracks over a small distance, which makes a great variety of tracks easily accessible. The clubs and communities are always willing and ready to help anyone out . It’s like one big family.

I have found that the main issue is the lack of interest, support and funding from companies and factories. NZ is a small out of the way country, which is great in some instances but not so flash when it comes to hitting the big scene in a sport that isn’t rugby.

Are you treated the same as a male racer and do you see yourself having the same opportunities and access to advance to the highest level? For sure, I think that there is general equality between the racers here. Me and a lot of the other women racers over here fit in great as “one of the boys” and race hard. There is no slack given because we are women but that is the way we like it.

I think we have the same opportunities as the men to advance and further our racing career. If anything, because of the lack of women in racing and being a minority – we may often get more attention.

Have you had any mentors who helped you get to where you are today?
For sure, there are a lot! To name a few who have been there right through… Peter Jones and Kev Goddard of Race Supplies team. My fitness instructor Jayne Smith of Lincoln University Recreation Centre has been great too. I owe her big time for keeping me physically and mentally on top of my game!

Who are your inspirations? My mum , Maria Costello, Avalon Biddle, Valentino Rossi, Janis Joplin, and Nigella Lawson.

What do you do for fun when you’re not riding or racing? I very much enjoy spending my time outdoors with friends training. I love to explore the great outdoors on two feet or with pedal power. Whether it’s running, mountain biking, skiing or tramping.  New Zealand has such a vast variety of landscape from rolling hills, flat plains, deep forests and alpine mountains through to the ocean, so heaps of variety. Some other passions are animals, science, music and partying up with my friends.

Any favorite foods? Green tea, sushi, tofu, any Japanese food. YUM YUM! Ooh and tequila.

What’s the last inspiring book you read? Maria Costello: Queen of the Bikers.  It is a fantastic and inspirational autobiography about Maria and how she rose to become one of the greatest female motorcyclists in the world in a very male dominated sport.

Any favorite movies or TV shows? The Worlds Fastest Indian, Pulp Fiction and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into road racing? I would say GO FOR IT! …what do you have to lose?

As for specifics, I’m not too sure of the procedures in other countries, but in New Zealand it’s fantastic. There are very supportive clubs which run their clubs series. We have the Winter Series, King of Ruapuna etc. and also a “have a go day”. I would suggest contacting your local club and asking them about how to get into it. They are generally very helpful and knowledgeable with ways to have a go at the sport cheaply.

My advice would be to kit yourself out in some decent safety gear first of all – helmet, gloves, back protector, boots and leathers. Once you’ve got all the safety stuff sorted you can look at what kind of bike you’re going to have a go on. This depends on your experience, what you want to get out of it and what kind of bike you own. But generally, if you have a half decent street bike with good tyres- you should be able to do a few small alterations like taping up lights, lock wiring oil filter and you should be good to go out on track.  If you do not have a street bike – I’m sure if you speak with your club they may know of bikes that are available for use or could point you towards someone. I know in NZ they have training bikes which they lend to people for a very small fee and they’re all yours for the day. Than you pick your track, date, and pay your “day license” fee. It’s really not very difficult to get out there and definitely worth it! Even if you’re not keen on racing, it is a fantastic experience for road riders to learn a lot more skills and test their limits on the track safely rather than on the road!