This is the starting line of the Texas Mile.
Closer to the cars, bikes, and, yes, even trucks, was parked a long, black trailer with a picture of a woman with dirty blond hair sitting on a motorcycle smiling — the title “America’s High Speed Sweetheart” is scrawled above her image.
She isn’t your average pin-up-style hottie. She was more like the girl next door. She had her name blazoned underneath her visage.
Valerie Thompson is a racer.
Thompson holds five land speed records and is the owner of her own racing team, Valerie Thompson Racing.
This past Saturday, she showed up to her first Texas Mile to try and join the 200+ MPH Club and beat her personal best land speed record of 209.5 mph as well as the Texas land speed record in her class by going over 205 mph.
She blew past her goals in one day.
“A couple of people told me I better come to Texas because everybody’s fast in Texas,” Thompson said with a huge grin.
“So here I am.”
Thompson calls Arizona her home and left a successful career in banking in 2006 to begin what ended up being a lucrative motorcycle racing career in the All Harley Drag Racing Association.
Thompson recalled her racing beginning: “I was riding a Harley-Davidson and just being a little out of control on the street, and I was told to take it to the track.
“So, eventually, a bunch of us ended up going to the track, and it’s a much smoother and safer environment than the street.
“And ever since I went to the race track, I was hooked, and I haven’t left.”
In 2007, she finished third in the national points series.
In 2012, the first year as a team owner and driver, she set three new national speed records in her 2012 BMW S 1000 RR, now the fastest production land speed BMW motorcycle in the world.
Being a female in a world of male-dominated racers doesn’t seem to faze Thompson in the least. In fact, she doesn’t even seem to care about the battle of the sexes.
“I have more male friends than female friends in the racing circuit. I don’t go by male or female.
“I don’t play the female role, even though my trailer looks nice and pretty,” Thompson said with a laugh.
And Thompson seemed to enjoy her first trip down the Texas Mile.
“This is my fastest time in a mile course. My top speed on the BMW is 209.5 mph, but that was on a stop standing mile and a half course.
“So I’m a lot more proud of this mile.”
She ended the day roaring past her goal of going over 205 mph by hitting 212 mph – twice.
The speed was a record for Thompson as well as the track in the 1000cc class.
Many are sure Thompson will return to the Texas Mile, but how long will she race before hanging up her helmet and racing gloves?
Thompson is quick to answer the question.
“Not until I go 300 mph.”
But looking into her eyes as she answers, she’ll probably only try and go faster instead of retiring.
She is “America’s High Speed Sweetheart” after all.
You can find out more about Thompson and where she’ll be next by heading to www.valeriethompsonracing.com or www.facebook.com/ValerieFanPage.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.