She doesn’t have a driver’s license, but she’s already a veteran on a motorbike.
Imagine speeding through narrow twists and turns at 190 mph, perched atop a 200-pound motorbike with thousands of fans cheering you on. That’s life for 15-year-old Alexis Olivera – otherwise known as Superlex. She’s not old enough to get her driver’s license, but she’s already a multi-year motorcycle racer. And it all started with a pocket bike, which is basically a kid-sized motorcycle.
Now Alexis is competing in MotoAmerica‘s Liqui Moly Junior Cup Series as one of the youngest riders and the only female on the track in this class of motorcycle racers aged 14 to 25. She has been home schooling and training nonstop for her first year competing on the national stage, with seven races remaining at tracks across the country through October.
Liqui Moly Junior cup is a development class for MotoAmerica (The Professional Motorcycle Road Racing Series in the USA). Alexis says racing in MotoAmerica means she gets to race with the fastest kids in North America and it’s very challenging and a lot of fun.
“The best part is battling [passing] back and forth. At the club or local level, it has gotten a little boring because there isn’t a whole lot of competition.”
Superlex knows how to pick herself up and keep going
Born in Costa Rica, Alexis moved to Florida when she was very young. That’s where she caught the riding bug.
“My grandpa bought me a Chinese pocket bike when I was about nine years old,” Alexis says. “Once I got on it, I didn’t want to stop riding. Even after I crashed it.”
Despite her enthusiasm for the sport, Alexis says she really didn’t have any place near her to ride. One day, she learned Elena Myers – a former pro motorcycle racer – was hosting a girls-only track day at the Herrin Compound, which is a kart track owned by pro superbike racer Josh Herrin in Dublin, Georgia. Elena made history in 2010 as the first female to win an American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Pro Racing sprint road race.
“My dad called the track and asked if I could come up and watch; Josh asked why I couldn’t ride,” Alexis remembers. “All the photos we had seen online were larger bikes than what I was riding, but Josh encouraged me to bring my bike out.”
Alexis and her dad made the 10-hour drive to the Herrin Compound. She rode all day until her motorbike ran out of gas – twice, in fact. Both times, Josh hopped on his Honda Grom to pick her up, balancing her pocket bike on the tank and Alexis on the back seat.
For two years after that, Alexis and her dad started driving up to Dublin every month. Her first race was May 3, 2015 at the Herrin Compound Scorcher Series; she finished first in the kids’ class aboard an Italian-made Polini minibike.
It’s a grueling schedule, but she loves it
Her schedule before the pandemic hit was fairly typical; Alexis attended regular school Monday through Friday, like most kids her age. Her weekend schedule diverged significantly from the usual, however: at the end of the day Friday, her dad would drive all night to get to the motorbike races in Georgia. After the races on Sunday, they drove all night for the return trip to get her back in time for school on Monday. It’s a grueling schedule, but she says she loves it.
This year, Alexis is planning to do more home schooling to accommodate her accelerating race travel schedule. All of her friends are on the track anyway, she says, and she is one of two girls signed up for the Junior Cup.
“It’s fun because you’re able to go toe to toe with any gender,” Alexis says. “Girls and boys can race together and you can’t do that in football.”
Mental strength has no gender association
Alexis is often the only girl on the track, but she doesn’t let that distract her.
“Unlike a lot of sports, I feel girls can be competitive in motorbike racing because size and strength isn’t really a factor,” Alexis says. “You just have to put your mind to it and you can do it. Motorcycle racing is really a mind game. If you let it get to your head too much it will be the cause of your pain.”
Her personal hero is Ana Carrasco, the first girl to win a world motorcycle road racing championship. Now 23, Ana is a Spanish motorcycle racer who won the 2018 World Supersport 300 Championship as the first woman in history to win a World Championship in solo motorcycle road racing. She was also the first woman to earn pole position in a race. Ana went pro in 2011, a couple of years before she was eligible to get her driver’s license.
“Those bikes are next to each other, crashing into each other,” marvels Alexis. “It amazes and inspires me that someone like her can run with the boys and show us how it’s done.”
On the track, Alexis says, boys treat her as an equal. Off the track, it’s a little different.
“Boys make dumb jokes and flirt. They can be funny but sometimes they’re annoying. When they say dumb things I ignore them.”
Alexis’ advice for parents of young motorcycle fans
Even if many parents just don’t understand (thank you for that, Will Smith), Alexis’ parents are supportive and encouraging. She says she would tell parents to take it easy, because it looks more dangerous than it is.
“Once you crash a lot, you aren’t afraid of it anymore,” Alexis says. “You have to go through the experience of testing your limits and then you learn what the pain feels like. It looks scary because we are going 100mph+ but we wear a lot of expensive protective gear. Most of the time when we crash, we just slide across the asphalt and get right up.”
At Palm Beach International Raceway in 2018, the onboard camera captured a crash and it looks harrowing; I found myself holding my breath as I watched it and probably would have stopped for the day to recover. Instead, Alexis dusted herself off and raced again a couple of hours later.
She won that race.