William Shakespeare said, “And though she be little, she is fierce.” Abi Armstrong of Chehalis is as fierce as they come. The 17-year-old senior at W.F. West High School is a cheerleader, likes to get manicures, drink coffee, and hang out with her friends — just like most teenage girls. What sets Abi apart is that she has taken on the male-dominated, flat track motorcycle racing with a vengeance.
On an oval clay track, flat track motorcycle racing differs from other motorcycle racing types as the track has no barriers or walls. It allows riders to slide around corners and race the complete track. Competitors ride in close proximity and often knock into each other. It is more dangerous than other motorcycle sports and exciting to watch. The bikes used in flat track races are also different from those used in other motorcycle sports with a longer wheelbase and a smaller engine.
The first recorded flat track race was in Springfield, Illinois, in 1904. The sport became extremely popular in the 1920s and lost prominence in the 1930s due to the Great Depression. However, in the 1950s, it was included in the television show “The Munster’s” and regained its fame.
Abi’s Dad, T.J. Armstrong, took her and her sisters Ali and Aubri to their first race when she was nine years old. She immediately fell in love with the sport and wanted to learn how to ride. T.J. got her a bike, and her older sister Ali taught her how to ride it. Abi took on her first race at ten years old in Rainier. Abi was the same age as pro rider Shayna Texter-Bauman when she ran her first race, and in 2011 Shayna became the first woman ever to win an American Flat Track Main Event.
Racing is now a family sport at the Armstrong house. T.J. is a single dad that has raised his girls to be fearless. All three daughters ride. Everyone in the household is expected to help maintain the bikes, wash them, and prepare for race day. “Our dad makes us actually work on our bikes,” Abi shares. “He will always help us and teach us, but we have to get in there and get our hands dirty too.”
Her dad puts the saying “Don’t Settle” on the right throttle hand of every set of leathers. “She never settles,” says T.J. “She just keeps moving forward.”
Abi rides as much as she can and always tries to push herself to do better. She had to earn her fellow racers’ respect as she was often the only woman in a race. “I was doubted a lot,” says Abi. “But that just made me work harder and prove myself.” One of her favorite memories is winning a race against fellow racer Owen Kissler. “He is really good,” she says. “And when I finally beat him, I was so happy. My dad and I were screaming and hugging each other.”
Today, she’s managed to earn the respect of the guys. Nowadays, after a race, they come and tell her good job. She really adores being a part of the flat track race family. “We help each other,” says Abi. “If my dad is busy and I need help, there is always someone who will jump in, and we do the same.”
Abi is close to getting her pro card with the American Flat Track Association. Her goal is to eventually be able to ride with a professional team. After she graduates high school, she plans to attend Centralia College and earn her degree in welding
She wants to inspire other young women not to give up and to know that when they see her slaying in a male-dominated sport, they can also do whatever they put their mind to. If people doubt you, use that as the inspiration to give it all you have and succeed — just as Abi has. While it won’t be easy, it will be worth it.
Abi would like to extend a special thanks to her sponsors, Hojem Logging and Carl Shank, for always supporting her in achieving her dreams. Abi is always looking for more sponsorships. If you are interested in sponsoring her, contact the Armstrong family at 360.880.4199 for more information.