Rider: Sarah Lahalih
Age/years racing: 38/9
Occupation: Motorcycle safety training
Race bikes: Suzuki SV650/Aprilia RS250/Honda RS125
Daily rider: 2011 Triumph Tiger XC
To hear Sarah Lahalih tell it, racing just came naturally. “I don’t know that I ever really had any plans for any of this,” Lahalih says, “it was just the natural evolution of riding.” That “natural evolution” has followed a somewhat unlikely path, beginning with her first bike some 20 years ago, purchased without her parents’ knowledge and hidden from view. That sounds in character when you learn that Lahalih started boxing about the same time — also without her parents’ knowledge. Her boxing activities turned out to be a little harder to hide than a motorcycle, especially after winning a lightweight title in 1994.
Yet it was riding that became her consuming passion, and in 2001 Lahalih went very public when she opened Motorcycle Riding’s Cool, the first private riding program in Illinois. Her profile as an instructor rose to the point that in 2007 she connected with the U.S. military, training military personnel and certifying instructors on bases across the U.S. Along the way, she started to race.
“I raced on and off with CCS (Championship Cup Series) in the Midwest. I was pretty active, doing more track days than racing,” Lahalih says. A friend encouraged her first track day experience, and Lahalih loved every minute of it. “I thought I was going so fast and leaned over so far that I was about to drag a knee any moment, but when I came in my friend said, ‘If you go any slower, you’re going to fall over!’”
Somehow, it’s not surprising to learn she was the first female ever to compete in the Thruxton Cup, and she’s loving the vintage race scene. “I found the culture just really refreshing,” Lahalih says. “I love these guys. They’ve taken me under their wing and they really are out there for the love of racing. There’s no ego and they have some serious race craft,” she says of AHRMA racers, adding, “and they tell the best stories.” MC