Going 10/10ths: AHRMA Racer Cindy Hill

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Racer Cindy Hill
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Cindy Hill heads for a second place finish in the Novice Historic Production Lightweight class at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Rider: Cindy Hill
Age/years racing: 60/1
Occupation: Internet marketing/design
Race bikes: 1975 Honda CB400F, 2005 Honda RS125
Daily rider: 1988 Honda NX125, 1989 Honda TransAlp

Getting to know Cindy Hill, one thing becomes immediately apparent: When she puts her mind to something, she’s all in. “I always like to go 10/10ths,” Cindy admits, “which is not always a good thing.”

Cindy’s introduction to vintage motorcycle racing came somewhat circuitously, starting with Porches when she belonged to the Porsche Club of America. “My ex-husband had a 944. He wanted me to go out on the track. I didn’t have any interest in racing, but basically said, ‘if you’ll leave me alone, I’ll go.’ I did one session and walked out with this huge grin on my face.” It must have been a really big grin, because two years later, Cindy was instructing other drivers.

Motorcycles came in 2004, when she took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Beginner Rider Course. She almost failed. “I’m thinking, s***, I’m supposed to be this hot dog racer chick, and I barely passed,” Cindy recalls, the memory still tinged with exasperation. Characteristically, Cindy got up to speed quickly: By the end of her third year riding, she was an MSF rider coach.

The shift to racing came after meeting Alex McLean, well known in AHRMA circles for his winning ways aboard the Norton Manxes of Norton Champagne Racing Team, aided by legendary tuner and former wrench to the stars Nobby Clark. That was in 2007. Fast-forward to 2013 and the Bonneville Vintage GP at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, where Alex suggested Cindy “might want to think about racing,” Cindy recalls. “My first race was at Roebling, February 2014. That’s my favorite track, and I rode the RS [Honda], and it’s a handful; I was lucky not to miss a shift. I finished third out of three.”

Not surprisingly, she didn’t stay in back for long. A first place win came at Miller in September, riding the Honda CB400F she’d first raced in June at Road America. She thought she had come in second: “The only reason I got first was because the lead guy broke down. I was so pleased I got second, but then John Miller, who’d been first, came out and said ‘no, you won, I broke down.’”

A “real” first place win was waiting in the wings, however, and it would be a big one. Coming around the last turn at Daytona raceway in the last AHRMA race of the year, Cindy got the jump on Mike Kirby, who had beat her at Barber a week before, to take home the win. “When I went across the finish line, well, you can imagine what my first word was, followed by ‘I just won!! I just won!!’ — all the way back to the garages. Nobby thinks it must be some sort of record; I’m a woman, a novice, it’s my first time at Daytona, and I win,” Cindy says.

“The thing that stands out the most is the evolution from my first racing experience to my last,” Cindy says. “At Roebling, I just couldn’t wait for it to be over. Then at Road America, I’m suddenly on a bike I can have confidence in and I can feel my skills dovetail with the bike’s.”

It was a memorable year, capped off in December when Cindy and Alex tied the knot, forming the new husband and wife racing team of Cindy and Alex McLean. 2015 should be an interesting year. MC

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