Ashley Fiolek builds a unique community in Red Bull’s Day in the Dirt Down South

Fiolek Day Dirt
Alyssa Del Valle / Red Bull Content Pool

Some events matter more to certain riders and four-time Women’s Motocross (WMX) rider Ashley Fiolek is finding a home and building her own unique community in events like the Red Bull Day in the Dirt Down South, in Dade City, Florida.

Basically, Fiolek is “just a girl who loves to ride.”

Fiolek already had accomplished so many feats in her 25-year-career as she entered the 2023 edition of the Day in the Dirt Down South, from gold medaling in the 15th X Games, to earning multiple factory rides, to her crowning glory as a four-time WMX champion. And all of this was accomplished at a disadvantage. Fiolek was born deaf, which led her to rely on different senses and physical cues than her competitors. 

MORE: Jordan Javis knows it’s Tough Blazing a New Trail

“Honestly, Red Bull Day in the Dirt Down South is one of my favorite events,” Fiolek told NBC Sports. “It’s all about having fun and sharing a fun experience with families and friends. I can’t miss this opportunity.”

As a result of being deaf, Fiolek is forced to run a different race than the rest of the field. She can’t hear when other riders are gaining on her, so she has to race full throttle the whole time. On the other hand, she can’t hear someone racing behind her, revving their engine and trying to get into her head. 

“I just learned by feeling the vibrations on when to shift and when not to shift,” Ashley said. “I hold my lines very carefully, so I won’t cut anyone off. I do look for other riders when I turn to make sure I’m in a good spot.”

Fiolek Day Dirt
Ashley Fiolek interacts with fans at during the Red Bull Day in the Dirt Motocross Grand Prix in Dade City, Florida (March 11, 2023). – Alyssa Del Valle / Red Bull Content Pool

Events like the Day in the Dirt take riders like Fiolek back to their beginnings. The focus is on competition, but it is also steeped in community and fan engagement. 

“Fans are awesome,” Fiolek said. “This is why I’m doing it. Seeing them cheering me on and that they want to be part of my racing experience. Itʼs also fun to hang out after the races and do autographs and photos.”

Fiolek has the weight and privilege of representing the deaf community in these events. On one occasion, she was cut off by a young girl flying by on a 50cc while cruising in a golf cart after the race. 

“I was at a race,” Fiolek related. “It was the end of the day and I was driving my golf cart around and this little girl on a 50 flew by me and I almost hit her. Later, my dad brought her over to me and said, ‘This little girl wants to meet you, she is Deaf!’ We became friends and she was a racer too so we eventually raced together.”

The Red Bull Day in the Dirt is made up of several events and results in individual races are less important than the overall feeling of success.

This past weekend at the Day in the Dirt Down South helped her get familiar with her new Yamaha 125. After a tough start on Saturday, Fiolek found her groove when the course got rougher on Sunday.

“The track was brutal on Sunday,” Fiolek said. “But I think I did better than [I did on] Saturday on a smoother track. I love rough tracks.”

She’ll take this experience and prepare for a few rounds of GNCC Racing (Grand National Cross Country) and attempt to race in in the Loretta Lynn Nationals, one of the traditional feeders into the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series.

With the disbandment of WMX, standalone events like this are some of the few chances that Fiolek has to race and when asked if WMX could come back, Fiolek was realistic about the chances and obstacles.

That is hard to say,” Fiolek said. “I hope so. That would be amazing. It had some issues when I was racing and hit a lot of rough patches so it would need to be thought out better the next time, if it came back.”

Eli Tomac wins Seattle Supercross, ties Cooper Webb in championship points


In the past two weeks, Eli Tomac lost his momentum and with it the Monster Energy Supercross red plate to Cooper Webb, but a gutsy performance in Seattle gave him a sixth win of the season as he and the series heads into an off week tied. Tomac is currently tied in the points with Webb.

With this win, Tomac also ties James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list at 50 with six rounds remaining in 2023.

“I needed that bounce back,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It was almost like I was in a little bit of a slump in the past couple of weeks; just a little bit off. I’m feeling much better now. That track raced really cool. There were a lot of different lines out there.

“It was obviously very dicey early on. I got passed and then had to make those passes back.”

Tomac suffered with a stiff neck in Indianapolis two weeks ago when he lost the red plate to Webb for the first time in 2023. In that race, he scored his worst finish of the season in eighth. He lost more points in Detroit after finishing a distant third behind Chase Sexton and Webb. This is the fifth time this season that Tomac and Webb finished 1-2 in a race. Tomac has won them all, but Webb has been more consistent.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Seattle

Webb was disappointed to lose the ground to Tomac, but he will enter the Glendale, Arizona race with a red plate and a share of the points’ lead.

“It was overall a great night to get up front and get a second was great,” Webb said after the race. “Those few spots where I would get close to Eli and then make a mistake.

“The track was gnarly. It was no joke. It was cat and mouse as to who could ride the cleanest race and pick the line. I got off to a decent start, but Chase and Eli were ahead of me and I had some catchup to play and got into a good position.”

Early in the race, Sexton was indeed ahead of Webb and the remainder of the field. Another costly mistake sent Sexton to the ground. He battled back to finish fifth but is now 22 points out of the lead and in jeopardy of dropping out of championship contention unless Tomac and Webb have problems.

Rounding out the podium was Justin Barcia, who scored the third-place finish on his birthday

“Awesome ride,” Barcia said. “It was a lot of fun. I’m sure we kept the fans on their feet tonight. The track was gnarly. […] We’re searching; we’re so close to having that speed. We want it so badly. We’ll keep pushing hard and going for that win.”

Sexton’s mistake kept the three top points’ earners of 2023 from sharing the podium for the sixth time in 11 rounds, but the trio finished 1-2-3 in Heat 2 with Webb first, Sexton second and Tomac third.

The 250 West contenders were back in action after giving the last four rounds over to the East riders and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left off in Oakland: In Victory Lane. Lawrence scored his fourth win in five 250 West rounds. Last week his brother Hunter Lawrence tied Jett with 10 wins, but everyone knew it would not take long for Jett to regain the advantage.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but one race each in their respective divisions.

Lawrence rode a patient race in the Main. He settled in behind Stylez Robertson and concentrated on navigating the ruts mistake-free. He could not afford to be patient any longer when Cameron McAdoo caught up to the leaders. Lawrence found a second gear and gapped the battle for second.

An incident in their main made the battle between Lawrence and McAdoo more dramatic. While racing for second, the pair of riders ran out of room in the rhythm section. Both crashed but had a large enough lead over fourth to maintain their positions.

“It was a very eventful day,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’s Daniel Blair, answering a question about the earlier contact. “[…] It’s good to be back racing. It’s been a while. I feel like I’ve had another offseason. Glad to get out in one piece tonight.”

Lawrence now has a 23-point advantage over the field with four rounds remaining.

Click here for full 250 Main Results

RJ Hampshire finished second in his race and is second in the points after a seesaw affair that produced the final pass for position just before the white flag was displayed.

“I felt like I had a pretty good pace going for a little bit,” Hampshire said. “I closed the gap and then had a couple of big mistakes that almost put me on my head. I backed it off a little bit.

“Cam actually gapped me a little more than I would have wanted. I knew I could get a push there at the end. I thought that was the last lap, which is why my pass was a little more aggressive than it should have been, but I’m stoked to be able to close the gap a little bit.”

McAdoo took the final spot on the podium. This is the fourth time in 2023 these three riders have shared the box and if not for a sixth-place finish in Anaheim 2, he would be mounting a much more formidable challenge for the points’ lead.

“The track was really demanding tonight,” McAdoo said. “It did change a lot and the key thing was to get off the rhythms every time. We were swapping back and forth.”

Enzo Lopes in fourth and Max Vohland rounded out the top five.

Robertson had the early lead but when he lost the top spot to Jett he cross rutted on the next lap, crashed hard and failed to finish.

2023 Race Recaps

Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

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