The further back you look through time, the more you realize how far we’ve come. That’s the lesson taught by the career of pioneering female motocross racer Sue Fish, the 1976 and 1977 Women’s National Motocross Champion.
Fish’s career has inspired thousands of women to race motocross and ride off-road. Today, not only do women participate in national-caliber series, but in many disciplines they compete head-to-head against male competitors. Fish helped break those boundaries for women racers.
In addition to dominating the female ranks, Fish was one of the first women motocross racers to hold a professional racing license from the AMA and compete regularly against men. Known by the nickname, “The Flying Fish,” she raced in the AMA 125cc National Motocross Championship. Fish’s talents extended beyond motocross when she competed in the 1978 Subaru International Motorcycle Olympiad, a two-day event encompassing all types of off-road racing. Fish also competed on asphalt, racing in the men’s expert ranks in 600cc roadracing classes.
Fish put her talents to work on the big screen as well, working as a Hollywood stuntwoman. Her credits include “Terminator” and “Footloose.” She also traveled as part of Evel Knievel’s stunt show in Australia.
“I was just a young gal doing what I love to do: riding motorcycles,” Fish says. “Motocross is a sport that I love with every cell in my body, and I just feel incredibly honored to be recognized for the sport I so loved. Motorcycling was my way of life. It gave me a way of looking at things that taught me so many wonderful lessons about life.”
Even though she inspired so many women racers to chase their dreams on the motocross track, Fish said that as a young woman racer she never viewed that as her purpose.
“I don’t really consider myself a pioneer,” she says. “I was just riding motorcycles. I never had an agenda. Yes, there was a lot of press, but for me it was never about proving a point. I just loved riding. Ever since my father put me on the tank of his motorcycle when I was 3 years old, I’ve had to be on a motorcycle, and it was that love of riding that drove me.”
Fish was born in November 1958. Her father, who competed in dirt track and hare scrambles, taught her how to ride when she was 11. By 14, she started racing, winning her first race that year. At age 19, she advanced to the AMA Pro Racing national circuit. Her final professional race was the 1985 Women’s National Championship in Palmdale, Calif., where she ultimately finished third after running out of fuel in the final moto.
Following her retirement from racing, Fish focused on personal fitness training and mountain bike racing, where she raced for the Factory Yeti team and was a consistent top finisher in National Off-Road Bicycle Association competition.
Sue Fish was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2012.